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« February 2011 | Main | April 2011 »

March 31, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

1. CIA Officers Working With Libya Rebels.

Why does this strike me as good news for Khadafy?

*

See also: Farrakhan, Khadafy and Obama.

2. Middle-Class Not Wanted.

3. Middle-Class Urine Not Wanted.

4. Isn't revealed carry preferable to concealed carry?

After all, don't we want to know who's packing?

I mean, we basically have concealed carry right now.

5. "Boeing Co. received at least $5.3 billion in illegal U.S. subsidies that gave it an unfair advantage over rival Airbus SAS, World Trade Organization judges ruled, backing a European Union complaint," Bloomberg reports.

"Judges in Geneva today confirmed previously confidential findings that the U.S. provided aid to Chicago-based Boeing through federal research grants and state support in developing aircraft including the 787 Dreamliner."

6. "It appears evident that the spot cheese buying on Monday was inspired by a psychological desire to 'not miss the boat' on another move to $1.90 or $2.00 courtesy of last week's spot activity," FCStowne/Downes-O'Neill writes for the Dairy Herd Network.

"Since then, the market has told us that the current fundamentals do not support that kind of rally on cheese at present. While we don't think buyers will back down entirely, we expect more cheese to come to the exchange to keep a lid on cheese prices today."

7. Chicago strangely missing from ballpark hot dog sales.

Suggestion: The Loser Dog at Wrigley (half the size, twice the price) and The Hawk Dog (made entirely of corn) on the South Side.

8. "Chicago is the nation's third-largest market when it comes to local online advertising, and the Tribune Co.'s Web outlets dominate, but sports giant ESPN is muscling in and stealing some of the Trib's home court advantage with its own local play," NetNewsCheck reports.

*

My favorite part, which kind of says it all about our local papers:

"The Tribune declined to comment for this story, and the Sun-Times couldn't be reached for comment."

9. Derrick Rose's Poor Shooting Has Been Saved By Free Throws.

10. The Second Life of Chicago's Fallen Birds.

11. We're still accepting submissions for There Are At Least 50 Things Wrong With This Morning Show Visit By Benny The Bull.

12. "Frank C. Calabrese, the dominant horse owner at Arlington Park for the past decade, has decided not to run at Arlington this summer, opting instead to run his string of 60 horses at Calder Racecourse in Florida," the Daily Herald reports.

Calabrese told the Daily Racing Form three days ago that "I just can't make any money in Chicago the way the purses are structured now,"

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Horse sense.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: A Jockey's Life

Hot on the announcement by Major League Baseball that it will institute a seven-day disabled list option for players suffering concussions, the movement of sports in general to recognize this most serious of injuries can only be greeted with 21st-century relief.

It runs counter to the old unwritten rule of "playing hurt," but attention to this injury is warranted and sensible. Now, if coaches from Pop Warner on up can start teaching players not to tackle with their heads.

It also gives us a chance to contemplate the efforts of jockeys, perhaps the greatest athletes of them all.

It's timely because of a heartwarming video released this week showing veteran jockey Eibar Coa actually taking some steps just weeks after a spill in February at Gulfstream Park paralyzed him.

Running out after the wire, Coa's horse stumbled and threw the jockey. He suffered a fracture of his C-4 vertebra and underwent six hours of surgery that night. There was apparently some cause for optimism as Coa had feeling in his body and was able to move his hands slightly the next morning.

Jockey Paco Lopez suffered a chipped elbow when his horse came upon Coa's fallen mount. Both horses escaped injury.

Coa, 40, is one of those veteran jockeys who gives you an honest ride every time out. Although yet to be named to the Hall of Fame, Coa won his 4,000th race last July. While he's never won a Triple Crown race, his resume includes two Breeders' Cup Sprint wins (2004, 2010) and victory in prestigious races including the Brooklyn Handicap, Tampa Bay Derby, Illinois Derby, Test Stakes, Donn Handicap and January's Spectacular Bid Stakes on the 14-1 Determinato.

Confining his tack to primarily the eastern seaboard from Florida to Saratoga, Coa in 2006 became one of only four jockeys to win 300 races in one year on the New York circuit.

On the eve of my annual visit to beautiful Oaklawn Park, Coa's progress report seems a good opportunity to appreciate what jockeys do.

A jockey's work includes all the psychological nuances of getting a half-ton or more animal to trust you, listen to you and run like hell for you. With five or ten other like-minded horses and jockeys trying to do the same thing while going 35 or 40 miles per hour on a surface that might be slippery at worst and tiring at best. All while you balance on your toes and "speak" to the horse through virtuosic control of two leather reins.

And they don't have guaranteed contracts, like the Silvas or Sorianos of this world. The best riders get the best horses get the most wins get the best horses. Hot new jockeys come along every year. There are no laurels to rest on, always another meet to run.

These guys are tough as nails, as tough as any athlete, probably more. And though he cannot be out of the woods, his conditioning had to help Coa make so much progress.

But we cannot forget others who have not been as fortunate.

Veteran Rene Douglas, the author of so many great rides at Arlington, Hawthorne and beyond still recovers from the horrific spill he took at Arlington Park in May, 2009, in the most dreaded of accidents: his horse fell on top of him.

Young rider Michael Straight also recovers from his accident later that same summer at Arlington. He's even been aboard a horse and vows that if he can't race-ride again, he'll stay around the thoroughbreds one way or another.

So I'll be seeing guys at Oaklawn like Berry, Thompson, Compton, Shino, Saez, Borel, Baze and Gonzalez and Rene's best friend Eusibio "Eddie" Razo and be amazed by these guys ten more times on the Friday card.

Our Giant
Illinois-bred Giant Oak showed his new brand of determination in a tough loss Saturday in the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Unable to catch a streaking Mission Impazible, Oak also could not best Apart, even after Giant Oak took a lead going into the final furlong. Going six wide around the turn did not help Oak's chances.

After finishing fifth in the Handicap last year and third Saturday, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan had a theory.

"I think he just doesn't like the track," Bridgmohan said. "He never grabbed a hold of the bit. He just doesn't get a hold of this track."

We'll look for Giant Oak sometime during Kentucky Derby weekend.

Foal Goal
Super mare Zenyatta is now "out of foal" after it was announced in early March that she had successfully gone into foal by Bernardini.

Lane's End Farm said it's nothing unusual for a maiden mare and that she'd be getting another date with Bernardini soon.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Farrakhan, Khadafy and Obama

Louis Farrakhan is scheduled to hold a press conference today about U.S. involvement in Libya. Should we care what he has to say? While not endorsing his views, I found his take as expressed on WVON with (an obsequious) Cliff Kelley to at least be thought-provoking. Be not afraid - but be aware.

First, here's the video from his WVON appearance.

-

Now, some housekeeping. What is Farrakhan talking about when he references "the wheel?"

From Wikipedia:

Elijah Muhammad taught his followers about a Mother Plane or Wheel, a UFO that was seen and described in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel in the Book of Ezekiel, in the Hebrew Bible.

Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. Book of Ezekiel Chapter 1:15-18, Bible, English Standard Version

Louis Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description, said the following:

"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects. Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the Original scientists. It took $15 billion in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by a half mile (800 m by 800 m). This Mother Wheel is like a small human-built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.

"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said these planes were used to set up mountains on the earth. The Qur'an says it like this: We have raised mountains on the earth lest it convulse with you. How do you raise a mountain, and what is the purpose of a mountain? Have you ever tried to balance a tire? You use weights to keep the tire balanced. That's how the earth is balanced, with mountain ranges. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we have a type of bomb that, when it strikes the earth a drill on it is timed to go into the earth and explode at the height that you wish the mountain to be. If you wish to take the mountain up a mile (1.6 km), you time the drill to go a mile (1.6 km) in and then explode. The bombs these planes have are timed to go one mile (1.6 km) down and bring up a mountain one mile (1.6 km) high, but it will destroy everything within a 50-square-mile (130 km²) radius. The white man writes in his above top secret memos of the UFOs. He sees them around his military installations like they are spying.

"That Mother Wheel is a dreadful-looking thing. White folks are making movies now to make these planes look like fiction, but it is based on something real. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Mother Plane is so powerful that with sound reverberating in the atmosphere, just with a sound, she can crumble buildings."

Yes, it sounds crazy, but any crazier than some of the major tenets of, say, Christianity? I could name some (transubstantiation, the trinity) but you get the point.

In his WVON interview, Farrakhan also references Khadafy's "Green Book."

That would be this.

*

Farrakhan, of course, is no longer thrilled with Barack Obama. But before America's military involvement in Libya, the right-wing saw the continuation of an untoward triangle between Farrakhan, Obama and Jeremiah Wright. See: Anti-Obama Meme Of The Day: He Pals Around With Qaddafi. (Beachwood style is "Khadafy.")

While that's not so true, it is true that Wright once traveled to Libya as part of a delegation that met with Khadafy, and it wouldn't be surprising if Wright ever spoke favorably of Khadafy to his former congregation, including Obama. So what.

But confusing the issue is the stance such as this one taken by Mary Mitchell in the Sun-Times in 2008 when she explained that blacks understood Obama's wink and nod about Farrakhan:

When Sen. Barack Obama "rejected" and "denounced" the support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during the MSNBC debate last week, it wasn't his finest hour.

Fortunately for Obama, most black people understand the game.

No matter how many times Farrakhan explains, defends or refutes anti-Semitic comments that have been attributed to him, his kiss is still the kiss of death.

Hours after Farrakhan praised Obama during his annual Saviours' Day speech last Sunday, the Obama campaign moved to distance the candidate from Farrakhan, telling the Associated Press that it did not solicit Farrakhan's support.

In responding to questions during the debate, Obama took a much stronger approach.

"I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments," Obama told Tim Russert, NBC Washington Bureau chief.

"I did not solicit his support. . . . I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you formally or informally, with Minister Farrakhan."

That wasn't good enough for Russert.

He then dragged the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the debate. Wright , who is retiring after 36 years as the head pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, accompanied Farrakhan to Libya in 1984 and once said the Nation of Islam leader epitomizes "greatness," Russert pointed out.

Stakes are too high

The point here, of course, is that these men - one the pastor of an 8,000-member congregation where the church roll reads like a Who's Who of the Chicago black elite, and the other the leader of an organization that has historically saved young men from crime and drugs - are unfit to even speak of Obama.

After Sen. Hillary Clinton challenged Obama, saying "denounce" wasn't strong enough, Obama told Russert he would "reject and denounce" Farrakhan's support. The whole exchange made me ill.

Although Obama scored points for defusing a political bomb, his answer was insulting.

Yet the stakes are too high for African Americans to lose faith.

That's why on Thursday, Farrakhan issued the following statement:

"Those who have been supporting Sen. Barack Obama should not allow what was said during the Feb. 26 presidential debate to lessen their support for his campaign. This is simply mischief making intended to hurt Mr. Obama politically."

As one of Farrakhan's closest advisers put it, "At this point in the campaign, a 'pebble' can become a 'boulder.' "

"We are trying to focus on the motive," said Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff for the Nation of Islam.

"We know the motive is to have some negative effect on Obama's campaign, and we know the minister is not all those things that they have accused him of being for the last 20 years."

'It is just unfortunate'

Other longtime supporters of the Nation of Islam are willing to forgive Obama for playing into the hands of his staunchest critics.

"There is a new level of political maturity that one can observe going on in the black movement," said Conrad Worrill, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University Jacob Carruther's Center, and a co-founder of the National Black United Front.

"Right now, people are exercising political discipline as it centers around the goals of the black electoral empowerment movement. In the '60s, '70s or '80s, if this kind of condemnation had taken place by one of our revered leaders, there would have been a verbal bloodbath," he said.

"But the more we engaged in verbal rhetoric, the more our enemies used it against us. It is just unfortunate that at this moment in history we don't have the kind of power as a people to keep us from capitulating to forces that have their own agenda."

At 74 years old, Farrakhan has paid his dues in the battle against racial oppression and hatred. Over the years, a lot of black people have disagreed with Farrakhan on his stance regarding Israel, and many of us have regretted his ongoing controversy with powerful Jewish leaders.

Yet Farrakhan's appeal to masses of African Americans is that he is not a politician. And he is free to speak his mind because his organization does not depend on outside support.

Obama should have found a way to escape Russert's trap without denigrating Farrakhan's legacy.

But, like I said, we understand.

What's interesting is that Obama apparently wasn't winking - and that Hillary Clinton's views have prevailed.

As I wrote during the campaign, I really never had a problem with anything Wright said from the pulpit as exhibited by the videos we all saw. He's said some things since that I haven't been thrilled with, but my problem with the whole episode was Obama's dishonesty about Wright's preaching and his failure to stand by a man who was such an influence on him that he named his presidential campaign book after one of his sermons.

But I do find it interesting how events have played out. After all, in 2008 the Los Angeles Times was reporting this: "Over Dinner In Tent, Kadafi And 'Darling' Condi Rice Put U.S.-Libyan Relations On Normal Footing."

And just two months ago Khadafy's youngest son was in the United States on an internship.

Khadafy apparently never learned from the experience of Saddam Hussein and other world leaders that America doesn't have friends, just interests. And those interests are purely opportunistic.

Farrakhan and Wright apparently never learned the same about Obama.

*

But, as Ben Smith reports in Politico, Khadafy was never much on Obama's mind until recently - not that he should've been. Unforeseen events have transpired.

More interesting from Smith, though, is this:

"John McCain also didn't see Qadhafi as a particularly problematic figure either, tweeting in 2009:

@SenJohnMcCain: Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man. 3:42 PM Aug 15th, 2009 via web

"Last week McCain said Qadhafi should be tried for war crimes."

*

Maybe there's a lesson in all of this for an Obama Doctrine that has yet to be articulated and would be different than Obama's (faux) stance during the campaign that he'd meet with any dictator any time at the White House in his first year as president:

Once a brutal dictator, always a brutal dictator. America should always stand with freedom fighters, even when it's politically inconvenient, and regardless of economic interests.

History shows this is not only "ideal," but "pragmatic."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

The Second Life of Chicago's Fallen Birds

Millions of birds fly through Chicago during spring migration; thousands meet an untimely death after colliding with the city buildings.

The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors bring the fallen birds to the Field Museum. Meet the volunteers who prepare them for the scientific afterlife.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

March 30, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is talking to his own candidates for Chicago police superintendent while he awaits the results of a formal search committee," the Tribune reports.

I don't care if the mayor names his own police chief but then let's dispense with the charade of the police board. One of the many ways that Richard M. Daley set up Jody Weis to fail was to go outside the process to secretly interview and hire Weis - without any explanation of why he thought Weis was the best person for the job.

Weis came into the job as the mayor's secret guy, which only created suspicion and skepticism among cops and the portion of the public who was paying attention.

*

I talked about this and other issues on an Off 6rd panel last week.

*

"Emanuel said will not circumvent the Police Board search, which is required by city ordinance, but he also won't 'stand passively waiting' for it to recommend three candidates because he wants the superintendent lined up when he takes office."

How is that not circumventing the search?

*

"Emanuel declined to name names Tuesday, but sources said his list includes at least two top officials inside the Chicago Police Department as well as a few chiefs from outside. He plans to encourage them to submit applications to the Police Board by its April 11 deadline."

So some candidates will be able to name Rahm as a reference?

*

It's deja Daley all over again.

*

See also the item Carney Blarney in this column.

Rahm's Wrigley
Emanuel: Amusement Tax To Fund Wrigley Field Repairs A 'Non-Starter'.

Good for Rahm. Like Daley, he's not gonna be wrong all the time.

*

But look at how Fran Spielman frames her story:

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he wants to find a way to save 97-year-old Wrigley Field, but the taxpayer-financed plan being floated anew by Cubs' chairman Tom Ricketts is a 'non-starter.'"

There is no evidence that Wrigley Field has to be "saved." Even if that's the word Rahm used - and I don't know if it is - that accepts as fact that Wrigley is endangered and requires drastic and even urgent action lest it collapse or face demolition.

That may be what the Ricketts' want you to believe, but it simply isn't true. For the 20 years I've lived here, and before that I'm sure, Wrigley has been in a constant state of disrepair requiring immediate public financing, and yet, it's still there!

The Tribune Company invested in its property and so should the Ricketts'. They bought Wrigley with their eyes open - and they can certainly afford it.

*

"[T]he mayor-elect said it's not his job to suggest financing alternatives to Ricketts.

"'That's their responsibility. They'll come up with ideas There's work that needs to be done. They know that, and they have to come up with a proposal that works both for them as well as for the public. Their job is as owners of the team. My job is representing the taxpayers, and I was clear about that,' he said."

Quinn vs. Quinn
Quinn Says Budget-Cutting Governors Have It Wrong

vs.

Illinois Human Services Receive $211 Million Less Than Last Year In Gov. Quinn's New Budget.

Too Big And Rich To Fail
God forbid a big contributor like Alexi Giannoulias go without a public job.

Libya Leadership
If Obama really wanted to be clear about Libya and rebut those pointing out the inconsistencies in his actions there versus other areas of humanitarian disasters at the hands of tyrants, he would just say that Libya presents a unique opportunity for American military involvement because of the momentum created by recent events in the Middle East as well as the rare consensus among Western allies, the Arab League, and even nations such as China and Russia, which abstained in a United Nations Security Council vote instead of objecting.

I agree with many of the points raised by critics of Obama's policy on Libya, but I also ever-so-slightly tend to lean toward thinking he's doing the right thing. Obama's lack of clarity, more than anything, is the biggest problem here in my view, and that creates room for doubt because it means we're engaged in an operation that even potential supporters don't understand.

Architecture Killer
That would be Richard M. Daley.

Snow Job
"The $142,464-a-year deputy commissioner of Streets and Sanitation who presides over Chicago's Snow Command should be fired for using city employees to perform his personal errands on city time, Inspector General Joe Ferguson has concluded," the Sun-Times reports.

Send Us Yours
There Are At Least 50 Things Wrong With This Morning Show Visit By Benny The Bull.

iPads in Chicago Classrooms
Absolutely. More, please.

Chicago My Town
Is it yours?

West Side Legend
Catching up with Rick Pettis, who played with the Temptations, Four Tops and Rufus.

Year of the Rookie
Here comes Darwin Barney!

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Scared crooked.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Catching Up With Rick Pettis

Caught up with legendary '70s guitarist Rick Pettis at home on the West Side of Chicago. He's played for big name groups like The Temptations, Four Tops, Rufus and many more. These days he shuns the limelight, preferring to teach and inspiring young artist, along with occasional surprise sit-in's at local jazz clubs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Chicago My Town

My short film about the chi.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

iPads In Chicago Classrooms

Is this the way of the future? Government Technology magazine visited three Chicago schools to find out.

-

The article.

-

See also:
* iPad Apps That Government Workers Use On The Job

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

There Are At Least 50 Things Wrong With This Morning Show Visit By Benny The Bull

Can you name all 50?

-

Send us yours.

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1. From Bruce Wolf:

* The blonde is cheating on Southpaw.

* When they opened the oven they spoiled the rubber chicken Svengoolie was making.

* Benny is no cameraman. He should stick to what he does best: taking the SAT for Derrick Rose.

2. From Krystian Bigosinski:

* At 1:06, brunette reveals her inter-species food fetish.

* At 2:28, blond gets way too excited about "hot dog color."

* At 3:15, Benny does some Whip-its and then proceeds to raid the fridge and oven for munchies.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Year of the Rookie

There is little left to be said about the fantasy basketball season, now in playoff mode, other than this: If you need a last-minute pick-up, and JaVale McGee, PF/C, Washington, is available in your league, grab him immediately.

Why? Thirty-five rebounds in two games going into Tuesday is why. A 28-point, 18-rebound, 5-block Monday night is why. McGee has been one of the nicest surprises of the NBA season, a guy who barely registered in the top 100 players back in November, but should skirt the top 50 at the end of it. His 9.8 PP, 8.2 RPG and 2.4 BPG suggests he'll make a nice fourth-round pick next year with the potential to average a double-double.

Now, fantasy basketball has never been my strong suit. Fantasy baseball, on the other hand, represents renewal for me. It's time for our annual recitation of the rites of spring, and for me to have another six months to try to get things right.

This year, that means paying more attention to rookies. Last year was the Year of the Pitcher, but this year will be the Year of the Youth. There are a number of rookies - some who received extended tryouts late last season - who should make an impact this season. Some, like Jeremy Hellickson, SP/RP, Tampa, are well-known and probably already spoken for in preseason fantasy drafts. Others weren't necessarily draft fodder but should still be on your radar as possible pickups during the season:

1. J.P. Arencibia, C, Toronto.

In a brief stint last year, he only had five hits in 35 at-bats, but two of those hits were home runs. He's got great power, and though he was drafted as a back-up in some leagues, he is still available in 78% of Yahoo! leagues.

2. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City.

Huge home run and RBI numbers in the minors had everyone salivating heading into spring training, but he was a bust at camp. Still, like Pedro Alvarez last year, Moustakas could be a third-baseman who has a very productive second half.

3. Kyle Drabek, SP, Toronto.

Another much-hyped rookie, probably taken in only the deepest leagues. He should be good for a strikeout per inning, and double-digit wins if he sticks.

4. Jake McGee, RP, Tampa.

He'll be more of a set-up man at first, but some think he's the closer of the future in Tampa.

5. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Cleveland.

Like Moustakas, he was sent down rather than making the club. Unlike Moustakas, he was hugely productive this spring, hitting .500. He'll be back.

Sleeper Rookie: Darwin Barney, 2B/SS, Cubs.

I kid you not, the kid has the right kind of position eligibility to be of value in deep fantasy leagues (he may even earn 3B rights when Aramis Ramirez inevitably strains something). If he hits better than Jeff Baker, he could find himself starting full-time at 2B, delivering modest, but regular hitting and speed value in the mode of a Ryan Theriot or Elvis Andrus. Not a draft pick, but one to watch.

Expert Wire
* SportingNews.com rightly says Starlin Castro's draft value has been rising as spring has sprung.

* RotoWorld reports on how "Salty" - Boston catcher Jared Saltalamacchia - is busting out, no doubt before his annual fizzle.

* Bleacher Report likes Seattle pitcher Michael Pineda as a big-time sleeper candidate.

* Bleacher Report also has a guide to avoid foolish fantasy draft picks. No. 10 says it all: Don't pick Brad Lidge.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

March 29, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Amazon Launches Cloud Music Service.

Pat Quinn announces Cloud Tax.

2. Gov. Walker Announces Plan To Upgrade Amtrak Line Between Milwaukee, Chicago.

An olive branch to Democratic legislators to make future trips here more comfortable.

3. Anheuser-Busch Buys Goose Island: Will rename its 312 beer 314.

*

Is that funnier than renaming it 847? That's how I tweeted it yesterday but Beachwood veteran Tim Willette came up with the 314 joke instead. I guess it's suburban Budweiser douchebaggery vs. location.

*

See also: What Beer Nerds Are Saying About Goose Island and Anheuser-Busch.

And/Or: Check out the wall posts on Goose Island's Facebook page.

4. "Shaka Smart's press conference opened on a sad note today," HamptonRoads.com reports. "Prior to it starting, VCU sports information director Scott Day announced that Smart's grandfather, Walter King, died this morning.

"King served as Smart's father figure while he was growing up in Wisconsin, he said.

"'He was definitely the second biggest influence in my life,' he said.

"Smart was raised by his mother. King, who lived in Chicago, was a major presence in his life as well, he said.

"'He taught me humility, appreciation, and how to interact with people,' Smart said.

"King also fed Smart's passion for basketball, clipping stories from the Chicago newspapers and mailing them to his grandson."

*

"The Chicago Cubs plan to reach out to VCU coach Shaka Smart and Butler coach Brad Stevens after the NCAA tournament to invite them to sing 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field," ESPNChicago.com reports.

"For Smart, the experience likely will tug at his heartstrings as he remembers the times his grandfather, Walter King, took him to Wrigley as a child."

5. House Money and Valium: Our Final Four Report.

6. "If you're wondering why there are multiple trailers near the new Skokie police station, it's because the CW is shooting a new pilot," Skokie Patch reports.

"The new pilot, titled Cooper and Stone, is about two young female detectives on Chicago's North Side. According to deadline.com, they're 'best friends, equally adept at discussing fashion, music, pop culture as they are solving homicide murders.'"

7. Free Refills At Chicago-O'Hare Thanks To Fancy-Pants Water Fountains.

8. Ald. Carrie Austin, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

*

And not for the first time. From the Beachwood last May:

A Chicago alderman gave her grandson a job in her ward office four months after he was charged with helping to bilk a retiree out of thousands of dollars, in another example of City Council members rewarding friends and relatives with their taxpayer-funded expense accounts," the Tribune reports.

"Kenneth Austin Jr., 21, was paid about $18,500 last year as a legislative aide for his grandmother, Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, chairwoman of the Budget Committee."

And by Austin's logic, we should make it a priority to hire relatives of public officials.

"In the past, Austin defended the employment of her grandson, who first surfaced on her expense-account payroll in December 2008, by saying she holds him to 'a higher standard . . . I can ask of him what I can't ask of other people as well.'"

Like what, pick up her dry cleaning?

*

"Austin, who is currently ill, was unavailable to answer questions about her grandson's arrest, and staff members said they could not address the issue for her."

Perhaps because they've never seen Kenneth Austin actually perform any work.

*

"In August 2008, Kenneth Austin was charged with felony theft for allegedly teaming up with an in-home nurse to steal more than $2,000 from an elderly woman the nurse was caring for, court records show. The case is pending. He declined to comment."

Commenting isn't in his job description.

From the Beachwood last March:

"The City Council will move quickly to empower Chicago's inspector general to investigate alleged hiring abuses by aldermen to bolster the city's case to get out from under the Shakman decree, an influential alderman said today," the Sun-Times reports.

"But, Rules Committee Chairman Richard Mell (33rd) said aldermen are so divided about Mayor Daley's plan to give the inspector general more sweeping investigative authority over the City Council, a seven-member subcommittee has been appointed to sort it out . . .

"Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) is in the 'do-nothing' camp.

"'Why the hell do we need an inspector general breathing down our necks? To do what? We're already cautious as hell. And we have nothing to do with hiring,' Austin said."

Really?

"A stealth payroll loaded with friends, relatives and political operatives of Chicago aldermen appears to violate a ban on political hiring and was not revealed to the federal court overseeing city hiring, the court-appointed monitor concluded Monday," the Tribune reports.

Talk to the hand, Carrie.

*

I know that phrase is really old by now, but that's what came to me.

From the Beachwood in September 2009:

"I know that we will receive the bid. I feel that in my spirit already," said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th).

Too bad her spirit was on vacation during the parking meter debacle.

9. Fact Check: How Obama's Libya Claims Fit Facts.

10. The Portage Chicago Look Book.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Looking factual.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

The Portage Chicago Winter/Spring Look Book

Song by Lil Wayne.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:32 AM | Permalink

Fact Check: How Obama's Libya Claims Fit Facts

There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama's statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under attack there by Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

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AP further reports:

OBAMA: Seeking to justify military intervention, the president said the U.S. has "an important strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful - yet fragile - transitions in Egypt and Tunisia." He added: "I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America."

THE FACTS: Obama did not wait to make that case to Congress, despite his past statements that presidents should get congressional authorization before taking the country to war, absent a threat to the nation that cannot wait.

"The president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," he told The Boston Globe in 2007 in his presidential campaign. "History has shown us time and again . . . that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch."

Obama's defense secretary, Robert Gates, said Sunday that the crisis in Libya "was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest."

And:

OBAMA: "Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

THE FACTS: Mass violence against civilians has also been escalating elsewhere, without any U.S. military intervention anticipated.

More than 1 million people have fled the Ivory Coast, where the U.N. says forces loyal to the incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, have used heavy weapons against the population and more than 460 killings have been confirmed of supporters of the internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara.

The Obama administration says Gbagbo and Gadhafi have both lost their legitimacy to rule. But only one is under attack from the U.S.

Presidents typically pick their fights according to the crisis and circumstances at hand, not any consistent doctrine about when to use force in one place and not another. They have been criticized for doing so - by Obama himself.

In his pre-presidential book The Audacity of Hope, Obama said the U.S. will lack international legitimacy if it intervenes militarily "without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands."

He questioned: "Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

Now, such questions are coming at him.

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Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post reports:

"The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes," [candidate] Obama declared. "When you see a genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us, a stain on our souls . . . We can't say 'never again' and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter."

Stirring rhetoric, yes. But once Obama became president, the Darfur crisis appeared to fade in importance. Rather than confront the Sudanese government, as candidate Obama suggested he would do, the administration's special envoy for Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, attempted to win Khartoum's cooperation by offering incentives. As he memorably put it: "We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries - they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."

And:

No one can expect a presidential candidate to stick to every campaign promise. Circumstances and priorities change. The tragedy in Darfur has been a slow-motion conflict, unlike the rapidly developing civil war in Libya, potentially requiring a different set of tools. But the conflict in Darfur has not gone away, despite Obama's campaign rhetoric that "I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter."

Some day, those words may come back to haunt him.

Maybe today.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 AM | Permalink

House Money and Valium: Our Final Four Report

Let us review. And then preview.

* Since 1985, when the tournament field expanded to 64 teams, there never has been a Final Four with all one and two seeds eliminated. This is the first time since 1979 that on the last weekend of tournament play the best 8 teams, seed-wise, have been eliminated.

* Kentucky made its 14th Final Four appearance; the first in 13 seasons.

* UConn made its second Final Four appearance in three years.

* VCU is the first 11 seed to reach the Final Four since 2006 (George Mason) and 1986 before that (LSU).

* Butler is the first mid-major program to reach the Final Four in consecutive years since Jerry Tarkanian had the finest collection of players that money could buy at UNLV in 1990 and 1991.

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East

Kentucky (4) defeated Ohio State (1) after a last second shot by Brandon Knight, his second game-winner of the tournament. North Carolina (2) defeated Marquette (11) in a game that was never in question; UNC was up 40-15 at the half.

Brandon Knight carried Kentucky over North Carolina to get to the Final Four. UK shot a staggering 54% from the three-point line and 48% from the field, both of which bested UNC and ultimately decided this game, though they were out-rebounded by five. It doesn't matter if you're giving up a negligible amount of boards if you are making half of your shots, including 12 three-pointers.

Alot of those angry UK fans are now vindicated. They scoffed at getting thrown into the East regional bracket at a lowly four seed with not only OSU and UNC, but also Syracuse ahead of them.

Most people outside of the states of Ohio and Kentucky had OSU moving on here, as did I.

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West

Derrick Williams scores 25 first-half points for Arizona (5) against Duke (1) to keep them down by six at the half. The rest of the team decides to help out and dominate the second half, giving Arizona the victory here.

UConn (3) defeated SDSU (2), then won a hard-fought battle against Arizona to get to the Final Four; up by two points, they watched Arizona miss a last second three-point shot. Kemba Walker had 20 points and Jeremy Lamb had 19 for UConn. More importantly was Arizona's abysmal free-throw and three-point shooting. UA made just 4 of 21 from the three-point line and shot just 68% from the charity stripe. And they only lost by two points. It should be noted that UConn did only slightly better in those categories but were pretty awful as well. As I've previously written, look out for Arizona next year. They are on their way back to the top of college basketball with the other elites.

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Southwest

VCU (11) defeats Florida St (10) in a one-point overtime finish. FSU out-rebounded VCU by a wide margin: 45 - 28. However, their assist-turnover ratio was horrible - 7:16 compared to VCU's 18:16. Anytime you more than double your turnovers to your assists, as well as only shooting 36% you are probably going to lose.

Kansas (1) easily took care of Richmond (12) and then the unthinkable happened. VCU dominated Kansas to get to the Final Four. Kansas made just 2 three-pointers, shooting just 9%. VCU made 12. KU got to within a two-point deficit after being down 41-27 at the half but poor free-throw shooting and the inability to stop Jamie Skeen was their demise.

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Southeast

Butler (8) defeated Wisconsin (4) in a typical Big 10 final score: 61-54. I wasn't able to watch this one on TV but it looked like a snoozefest. As most games involving a Big 10 team.

Florida (2) defeated BYU (3) in overtime. Jimmer Fredette scored 32 points, but the rest of the team didn't do too much. The overall field-goal percentage wasn't good enough. Live by the three or die by three. Making 10 three-pointers collectively as a team in a game is impressive. Missing 27 other attempts and getting out-rebounded by your opponent is not.

Butler outlasted Florida in overtime in one of the more statistically even games I have seen in a while.

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Final Four

VCU (11) vs Butler (8), Sat April 2nd 5:09 pm CDT (CBS)
UConn (3) vs Kentucky (4), Sat April 2nd 7:49 pm CDT (CBS)

Some are saying the Kentucky vs UConn match-up is the real championship as the winner will most likely crush whomever comes out of the end side of the bracket. I'm going to have to take UConn over UK. We will likely see Walker and Knight both explode for 20-plus points here and the game looks to be a close one.

Kentucky may have the depth and Knight is playing as well as anyone lately, but in the end I think Jim Calhoun will outcoach John Calipari to make up the difference.

VCU has caught lightning in a bottle. They have slayed Goliath and face an easier opponent in Butler. If they can continue to their lights-out shooting they will be playing for a national title on Monday, April 4th. Both teams have young, upstart coaches with bright futures ahead of them.

Butler has proved they are no fluke by making a back-to-back Final Four appearance and having played in the national championship game last year; Shelvin Mack is a player and their upperclassmen have the experience. However, VCU is playing with house money and has nothing to lose. If VCU starts draining threes early and often, it will be a long game for Butler.

I'm taking VCU over Butler, and then UConn over VCU to win it all on Monday night. I'm also taking a lot of Valium but that's another story.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

The geniuses at the Sun-Times wonder why so many folks have left Chicago over the last decade - you know, given our beach volleyball and great theater.

Well, let's turn to the Chicago Reporter's Megan Cottrell for some help:

"Okay, so we're not the Big Apple, and we don't have the sun-tanned allure of L.A., but Chicago's pretty great, right? Most of us, whether we were born here or have made it our home, would agree.

"How justified is our city pride? Beyond the skyscrapers and sparkling store windows of Michigan Avenue, Chicago has a pretty seedy underbelly. We may not like to admit it. Heck, we may not even know. But when we look at the Second City in comparison to its rivals - the top 10 largest cities around the U.S. - we might be a little astounded."

Cottrell's findings:

* "In Chicago, the unemployment rate for African Americans is almost three times higher than it is for whites. The city's 21.4 percent black unemployment rate is the highest rate of any race or ethnic group examined for the nation's 10 largest cities."

* "Black people living in Chicago make 45 cents for every dollar that a white Chicagoan makes."

* "In Chicago, nearly one third of African Americans live in poverty - more than three times the rate for white Chicagoans. Only Latinos in Philadelphia and Phoenix are experiencing poverty at higher rates than black Chicagoans among any race or ethnic group examined among the nation's 10 largest cities."

* "Chicago is the only city among the nation's 10 largest cities where a higher percentage of white residents have a graduate degree or higher than the percentage of black residents with a college degree of any kind. Also in Chicago, the percentage of Latinos with at least a high school diploma is about the same as the percentage of whites with at least a bachelor's degree."

* "In Chicago, nearly 56 percent of African Americans at least 16 years old are without a job (either unemployed or not in the labor force) - the highest percentage of any race or ethnic group examined among the nation's 10 largest cities."

Of course, folks working for a newspaper couldn't be expected to know all of this. They're too busy selling a book about Daley's legacy. (link unavailable)

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"Chicago's central core grew increasingly vibrant during the past decade, as young professionals filled new condominiums in the Loop and surrounding neighborhoods, taking advantage of trendy restaurants and nightspots," the Tribune reported last month.

"But vast swaths of the city didn't fare as well. Fifty-seven of Chicago's 77 community areas lost population during the decade, according to 2010 U.S. census data released last week.

"Hardest hit were the South and West sides, where thousands of African-Americans abandoned neighborhoods beset by crime, foreclosures, bad schools and economic squalor."

I guess the lure of great theater wasn't enough for those folks.

But He Wants One Of His Own
Tapes Show Ex-Gov. George Ryan 'Didn't Understand' Pardon.

Industry Captive
Prudential Building HQ for Obama 2012.

What, JP Morgan Chase HQ wasn't available?

Programming Note
Man Arrested In Connection With Grant Park Attack.

In real life or the one on The Chicago Code?

You can learn all about the Code version tonight because I think Fox is re-airing the pilot. So maybe we'll watch it at the Beachwood tonight or maybe not - customers' choice.

Either way, I'm on duty behind the bar from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Cooked Goose
"Beer company Goose Island said Monday that it had agreed to be acquired by industry giant Anheuser Busch, the Chicago brewer's current distributor," Crain's reports.

*

Meanwhile:

"Coors Light is close to dethroning Budweiser as the nation's best-selling brew behind Bud Light," Ad Age reports.

Snail Mail
Letter from Chicagoan arrives 66 years late.

Remembering When Obama Called Ferraro A Racist
Then appointed her our ambassador to the United Nation's Human Rights Commission.

Even The Losers
One team wins; the rest go home in ruins.

Chicago Dog Fighting
How a Humboldt Park native got to know the dog game.

The Chicago Wolves' Baby Derby
Five infants competed.

AT&T Is Back For More
And Obama's FCC is likely to give it to them.

The Weekend in Rock
You shoulda been there.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Demographic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

Chicago Wolves Baby Derby

Five infants compete in the Chicago Wolves' 13th annual Baby Derby on Sunday, March 27, in Rosemont.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Dog Fighting In Chicago

Chicago Humboldt Park native tells you his life story and struggle on how he came to know the dog game.

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Comments welcome.

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See also:
* Out of the Pit: Dog Fighting in Chicago

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Remembering When Barack Obama Called Geraldine Ferraro A Racist

Geraldine Ferraro died over the weekend, sending the Beachwood news desk into the archives for its coverage of the time when the Obama campaign called her - among many others - a racist. Curiously, Obama later named this so-called racist as America's ambassador to the United Nation's Human Rights Commission, a move less boggling, however, than naming his biggest alleged racist Secretary of State. Maybe Sean Wilentz was right.

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March 19, 2008:

"It was a great speech." writes Lynn Sweet. "And it would have been greater if it were not delivered because Obama was in a jam. But the enduring truths of Obama's words are important to acknowledge even if they may not provide him with the political cover he desperately needs at this time. His speech, magnificent as it is, offered moral guidance that may influence one's conscience but not one's vote . . .

"Obama was forced to give this defining speech because selections of Wright's sermons - the poisonous parts - burst out in the open a few days ago, and the videos don't lie.

"Obama is lucky they did not surface earlier. He decided now is not the time to run from Wright, a man he considers family. As charitable as he was toward Wright, he had found no mercy for Geraldine Ferraro, the Clinton supporter and former vice presidential candidate whose ill-chosen racial references were seized on by Obama's campaign and whipped up into a frenzy until she was forced to exit Clinton's campaign, her own legacy ruined.

"Obama also raised more doubts. He admitted in his speech that he heard some of Wright's fiery rhetoric. 'Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes.'

"Obama said something different on Friday, when he met with the Chicago Sun-Times. 'I'll be honest with you. I wasn't in church when any of those sermons were issued.' He went on to say, referring to Wright, 'I had not heard him make such, what I consider to be objectionable remarks from the pulpit.'"

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"[A]s powerful as his words were, there was more he could have said but didn't," writes Carol Marin. "It was about Geraldine Ferraro. Just as Sen. Obama spoke about the decency and complexity of his incendiary pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in the wake of the firestorm Wright has provoked, surely he knows the same is true of Ms. Ferraro, whom Obama coolly acknowledged but only in very spare terms . . .

"At the Sun-Times last Friday, at the height of the Wright controversy, the senator said he was not in the pews of Chicago's Trinity Church when his pastor issued some of his more vitriolic sermons. Obama flatly stated, 'I'll be honest with you. I wasn't in church when any of those sermons were issued.'

"But Tuesday, the senator in his speech said something different. 'Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes.'

"OK, which is it?"

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Jan 12, 2010:

Mary Mitchell now: "Reid is under attack for saying privately in 2008 that then-Sen. Barack Obama would be a successful black presidential candidate because of his 'light-skinned' appearance and because he doesn't speak with a 'Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.' Frankly, a lot of African Americans must have yawned."

Mary Mitchell then: "Geraldine Ferraro still doesn't get it. On Wednesday, Ferraro was forced to resign from Sen. Hillary Clinton's finance committee after remarks she made about Sen. Barack Obama were widely interpreted as being racist. Here's what Ferraro said:

"'If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman [of any color] he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.'"

Mitchell is right when she says that talking about race is not the same as racist talk. It's just too bad she and her fellow Obamaphiles conveniently forgot that during the 2008 primaries. Crocodile tears are being cried on both sides of the political aisle.

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Present Day:

"President Barack Obama also described Ferraro as 'a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life.'

"'Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, member of Congress or candidate for vice president, Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all,' Obama said in a statement.

"'And as our ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live,' Obama added, referring to his two daughters."

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And let's not forget these links also found in previous Beachwood coverage:

* From Ferraro to Palin: Sexism in Media Coverage of Vice Presidential Candidates By Caroline Heldman, Occidental College.

"We find persistent gender differences in mention of dress/appearance, mention of candidate family, gendered policy coverage, and negative tone that disadvantage female candidates. Additionally, female candidates are four times more likely to receive sexist media coverage, and the intensity and volume of sexist coverage increased dramatically from Ferraro's run in 1984 to Palin's run in 2008. We also compared Palin's coverage in Old Media (print) and New Media (blogs) and found that sexist coverage and negative coverage are more pronounced in this new medium."

* Geraldine Ferraro Accuses Media Over 'Sexist' Scrutiny of Sarah Palin

"Ms Ferraro remains angry at the 'sexist treatment' of Mrs Clinton by the media. 'In New Hampshire, someone put up a sign saying Iron My Shirt. Nobody spoke out. Imagine if Hillary's supporters had said [to Obama] Shine my shoes. Everybody would quite rightly have been jumping on it. Women in politics should not be treated better than men, just fairly.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

AT&T Is Back For More

The New York Times last week explored the high cost and risk of AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile, quoting one of Wall Street's "most thoughtful telecommunications analysts" as saying, "We've never seen a deal with more regulatory risk be attempted in the U.S."

But just how much scrutiny will there be?

The merger hinges in part on approval by the Federal Communications Commission, whose historic mission has been to safeguard the interest of the public.

But when it comes to AT&T, the FCC's track record isn't encouraging.

Some years ago, with much fanfare, AT&T rolled out its U-verse system, which it touted as a high-end, high-quality competitor to cable, replete with cutting edge bells and whistles. But AT&T abandoned its promises when it came to handling public, educational and government (PEG) channels.

Consumers seeking public access programs on U-Verse are deprived of some of the most basic functions cable viewers have come to expect:

Channel surfing? No can do.

Record a program while out for the day? Sorry.

Find your child's school event in the program guide? Not possible.

Discriminatory? You bet.

Independent survey results show that more than 85% of Chicago cable subscribers say it's important that community channels are easy to find and record. Subscribers also want community channels to have technical advancements equal to commercial channels.

So what's the FCC doing about this? It's been more than two years since the Petition, ACM et al., was filed by cities and public advocates from around the country challenging discriminatory treatment of PEG. But the FCC has yet to grant the Petition.

In the meantime, the same principle at stake with AT&T cropped up in relation to the Comcast/NBCU merger. The FCC made it a condition of approval that Comcast cannot discriminate against PEG with respect to functionality, signal quality and features from those of the broadcast stations that it carries. But the FCC's failure for the past 26 months to stop AT&T from discriminating against the public's channels makes the Comcast prohibition porous at best.

Almost a year ago, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, testified before a U.S. House subcommittee that the FCC plans to "honor the statute here and take this very seriously and make sure PEG isn't left behind."

In light of AT&T's bid to get even bigger, it's high time Chairman Genachowski take care of unfinished business and turn those words into action.

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Keep Us Connected (KUC) is committed to protecting the public's interest in Illinois state video franchise law. KUC calls for the enforcement of Illinois' Cable and Video Competition law of 2007 to assure companies with state video franchises deliver public, education and government (PEG) channels with equivalent signal quality and functionality to that of commercial channels.

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Comments welcome.

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See also:
* Stop Comcast!

* Opposing Comcast

* Regarding Comcast

* Comcast Sucks

* Thank You, Comcast, May I Have Another?

* NBC Now Only Available On Tuesdays Between 1 and 4

* Obama's Comcast

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Volbeat at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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2. Unit 91 at Reggie's on Saturday night.

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3. The Residents at the MCArt on Saturday night.

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4. Boyce Avenue at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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5. 7 Walkers at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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6. Lupe Fiasco at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. Teedra Moses at The Shrine on Saturday night.

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8. Savagery at The Hell Hole on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Even The Losers

I assistant coached my older daughter's fourth-grade basketball team during the winter and the season ended with a single-elimination tournament a week ago. We played a team we thought we would beat in the semifinals but lost instead and afterward she was inconsolable for a while.

I thought about reiterating all the usual stuff; that she had played hard and well and that we were proud of her and her team (I tried airing some of those sentiments to the team right after the game but a little while later on she was still very sad). There was also the fact that sometimes the other team is just better and there is nothing you can do. Sometimes the bounces just don't go your way.

But I didn't think that stuff was going to help. And I didn't think I was going to be able to say it with conviction.

When I was younger, I remember thinking I was so clever when I saw a different scene involving someone else's daughter who had lost a big game and was crying and I told her "If losing didn't feel so bad, winning wouldn't feel so good." But as many coaches have pointed out indirectly, that's just bunk. Most of the time, losing hurts more than winning feels good. And it obviously happens far more frequently at season's end to all but the tremendously lucky few.

So I stayed quiet and she stayed sad for a little while longer. Fortunately though, there is always the post-game snack. When we parked and walked into a little independent convenience store just south of the gyms at Loyola Park (which are very nice and far better administered than the vast majority of gyms in the Chicago Park District) and I told her she could have whatever she wanted, her mood brightened.

A pint of chocolate milk and a big package of Twix (with four candy-covered cookies instead of the usual two) later, she was a happy girl again. And she saved a small portion of the fourth cookie/candy for her little sister, meaning the snack was only 9,500 calories instead of 10,000. So I'm not that permissive.

When I was covering sports for the Pioneer Press papers in Glenview, Northbrook and Skokie, I used to be jealous of the guys from the dailies at state meets or tournaments. In the end those guys wrote about the Chicago-area winners (unless they lost to a team from downstate), whoever they were. I ended up writing about the local guys - usually the ones from Glenbrook South or Glenbrook North or Niles North - and those guys just about always lost (except for GBN in 2005, when junior Jon Scheyer led the Spartans to the state title). It would have been the same no matter what schools I covered. You start tournaments with all the boys basketball teams in the state and a couple hundred will end their seasons with losses no matter how many classes of competition you foolishly create.

When Hoosiers really happened in the '50s, Indiana had one state high school boys basketball championship and when little Milan High won it all, everyone cared. When Illinois went to two classes (big schools and little schools) in the early '70s and when it crowned two state champs for 35-plus years, lots of people cared. The Illinois High School Association instituted four-class completion in 2008. Now no one cares. The big positive is that 200-and-some schools finish with losses - as opposed to 200-and-some-minus-two. It obviously isn't worth it, people! Bring back two classes for gosh sakes! If not one!

As big tournaments proceed, a special few teams earn massive amounts of kudos and certain individual competitors excel and are celebrated. But when you look back on it all the by-far biggest thing that happens is that everybody loses except one.

I am becoming a huge Brad Stevens fan and not because he is taking his Butler team to its second straight Final Four, although that is an epic achievement. The coach impressed again in the aftermath of his team's absolutely unbelievable ninth win in its last 10 tournament games on Saturday. He did so when he made it clear that his joy was tempered by the fact that he knows the other team has seniors and he knows how painful it is to experience the loss that isn't only a setback, it is the end of a college playing career. ("Career" is probably not the right word - for it to be a career there should be some payment involved shouldn't there? - but I don't have a better term).

Perhaps Stevens was full of it, but it sure didn't seem like it at the end of the regional final, when he walked over to shake Florida coach Billy Donovan's hand and earnestly inquired about something. He then calmly walked to the locker room. There was no grandstanding whatsoever and there never has been with this guy. When Stevens celebrates with his team, he does so in the privacy of their locker room.

One thing I wasn't going to say to my daughter at the end of our last basketball game this season was that it was just a game and that she shouldn't be upset about something so minor. Of course, to her sports-obsessed dad, that sort of statement is blasphemy. But more importantly, we had just spent several months going to practices and games and pulling a team together and having a great time while we won some, lost some and always found ways to celebrate improvement in whatever portion of the game we could find it on a given night. Basketball was a big deal for too long to just dismiss it as "not a big deal."

I don't think I have any big conclusion at the end of these trains of thought. I refuse to bust out some sort of sappy "the most important thing is the journey" bromide. Heck, I have severe reservations about college sports in general in this country (I have been quoted in the past - by myself - as pointing out that college sports are great except for the fact that they are fundamentally corrupt). The guys who run these ridiculous universities where coaches are paid more than presidents deserve to lose and lose again again a thousand times.

The Sweet 16 are celebrated but 52 teams bowed out that first week of the tournament. The Final Four triumph but a dirty dozen hit the road on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The national champion is crowned but three last teams go home in ruins.

I just hope they stop for some candy on the way.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:32 AM | Permalink

March 26, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

We're back from our vacation to the Forest Preserve. Now it's time to work.

Market Update
All financial markets disintegrated late Friday evening as we learned the shocking truth that Eight is Bigger than Ten, invalidating basic arithmetic.

Meltdown Meter
Officials painted a grim picture this week as signs emerged that Japan's nuclear crisis is worsening. Meanwhile the United States scrambled to help even as our own radioactive mess grows.

Devil in the Details
It's a subtle difference, but it's worth noting: the people are agitating for leadership change, not leadership consolidation. You know, just so we're clear.

Retrial and Error
Meanwhile, a federal judge this week confirmed our deepest fears: the retread of a sordid tale of excess and corruption is coming, whether we want it or not.

Gird Thy Loins
Finally this week, we're not the slightest bit upset that Tim Tebow will be running around in his underwear. We're just wondering where he's going to stick the Bible verse.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Biblical.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Myths and Realities: A Public Forum on Chicago School Reform
31038-Myths-and-Realities-MarthaAguila.jpg
College student Martha Aguila joins dozens of education researchers as they gather to weigh-in on the subject of school reform.

Sunday, March 27 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 56 min

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Intersections Lecture: Grieving and the Politics of Immigration
31040-Grieving-and-Immigration.jpg
Dr. Robert E. Watkins, assistant professor at Columbia College Chicago, expands on the immigration debate through analysis of the 2006 film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a somber story about grieving the death of an undocumented Mexican cowboy.

Sunday, March 27 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 16 min

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Friends of Downtown: Lincoln and Chicago
31041-Friends-of-Downtown-Lincoln.jpg
To mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's inauguration, DePaul University assistant professor Mark Pohlad illustrates the president's special relationship to Chicago.

Sunday, March 27 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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The Renaissance Society: Minimalism Now
31037-Minimalist.jpg
Sculptor Rachel Harrison joins a panel of art history professors to discuss the state of minimalism today. Panel includes Miwon Kwon, UCLA; James Meyer, Emory University; and David Raskin, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sunday, March 27 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 46 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:25 AM | Permalink

March 25, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

"In 2009 the Whitney Young boys varsity basketball team had one of its best seasons, winning the Class 4A state title with a squad that included seven players who joined college programs," the Tribune reports.

"But the team wasn't even supposed to be in the playoffs, the Tribune has found. After its coach, Tyrone Slaughter, was found to have violated Chicago Public Schools recruiting rules, district regulations called for the team to be banned from the postseason, but officials failed to enforce that penalty.

"Slaughter received a six-game suspension and then went on to break recruiting rules again. In February he was suspended for 10 days by the Illinois High School Association after he held a team practice at a suburban middle school 23 miles from Young."

And he still has his job?

Yup, sports sure teaches character.

*

But this is my favorite part:

"In addition, the Tribune has learned that Joyce Kenner, the principal at Young, was found to have violated CPS policy when she admitted two basketball players in 2008 even though they did not go through the required process for selective enrollment at the magnet school. The students were on the championship team roster."

Joyce Kenner!

Let us go to the Beachwood vault to review:

February 25, 2008: "The youngest son of NBA legend Michael Jordan entered Whitney Young Magnet High last fall under a little-known loophole that gives principals of Chicago's elite-eight college prep schools wide-ranging discretion - on top of new powers they could get this week," the Sun-Times reports.

"Marcus Jordan was a junior-year transfer.

"That means he never had to sit through the freshman admission test that eighth-graders take for Chicago's college prep high schools. He was exempt from being judged by a mathematical formula involving tests, attendance and grades that is used by Young and seven other CPS college preps to decide freshmen admission.

"Instead, as a transfer, Marcus' fate was left up to the principal of Young, an academic and basketball powerhouse.

"'Transfers into selective-enrollment high schools are entirely principal discretion,' said CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn."

Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner put it this way: "[The Jordan family] has done a great deal for this city."

And this city has done a great deal for the Jordans. We made him rich and famous; rich and famous enough, in fact, to clout his kid into a magnet school.

August 25, 2009: Anthony Beale is now the second alderman to admit he made a phone call to the principal of Whitney Young to get his daughter into the school, the Sun-Times reports.

"You're talking about an A-minus student," Beale said.

Yes. But was this straight-A student left out of Walter Payton Prep because of a similar call?

*

It gets better.

"[Whitney Young Principal Joyce] Kenner said she had a 'personal relationship' with Beale, whom she knew as a baseball coach when her son was playing baseball. 'When he called me, it wasn't about him being a political figure,' Kenner said."

It was about her personal relationship with Beale.

I don't know which is worse.

*

Similarly, Kenner didn't know Ald. Ricardo Munoz as an alderman when he called her to get his daughter into her school. "She knew Munoz as the father of a boy her son played basketball with."


*

It gets better.

"I try not to be political at all,'' Kenner said. "If you ask me how many aldermen there are, I don't even know."

The principal of Whitney Young doesn't know how many aldermen there are?

March 23, 2010: "In 2008, former U.S. Sen. Braun sought help for two students, though she said Monday she does not recall placing a call to Duncan's office. Pickens said she called him, seeking help getting a student into Whitney Young Magnet High School, and he asked Principal Joyce Kenner to call the former senator back.

"Braun said she called Kenner to inquire after one child's mother told her the student's application had been 'lost in a computer glitch.' Braun said Kenner told her: 'I'll take care of it.'"

Personally.

"The child got into Whitney Young, despite a below-average admission score."

Also the result of a "computer glitch."

"This process is not pure, and everyone knows it," Braun said. "The process is a disaster, and quite frankly, I don't have a problem making a call. If the process were not as convoluted as it is, parents wouldn't be asking for help."

The Chicago Way: Game the process instead of fixing it.

"Kenner, who has testified under subpoena in the federal investigation, said the admissions problems are 'old news.'"

Old news to her, she knew about the [clout] list!

"'There is a new framework in place for principal discretion,' she said in her e-mail response. 'I think we have an opportunity to move on from this issue.'"

Her e-mail account refused to answer further questions.

"Burnett requested consideration of a student in 2008 whose test score did not get him into Whitney Young. The log suggests the principal offered the student future enrollment as a consolation and notes that Burnett 'was OK with that offer.'"

And now back to present day: "Kenner said she has not disciplined Slaughter following the recruiting violations. In her first public comments since the recent suspension, she said Slaughter and other coaches now need her permission to practice off of school premises.

"She defended him against what she said was unfair criticism.

"'Mr. Slaughter, in my opinion, is an upstanding coach who is trying to protect our program, and he does right by our children,' she told the Tribune last week."

And she still has her job?

Maybe it's time to teach Whitney Young's students a real lesson in accountability.

Postscript: "Kenner was not made available by CPS to address questions about selective enrollment."

If the principal of Whitney Young is incapable of answering questions about her enrollment practices, then she has no business being the principal of Whitney Young.

Then again, I think we've already figured that out.

This, CPS, is a teaching moment.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Two TV Show Shoots In Chicago
Antique cars and a classic Chicago neighborhood.

The Week in WTF
Terrorizing the news.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Self-selecting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Two TV Show Shoots In Chicago

Antique cars and a classic Chicago neighborhood.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. A Day To Remember at the Congress on Thursday night.

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2. Cult of Youth at the Abbey on Tuesday night.

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3. Tim Koda at the Irish American Heritage Center on Sunday night.

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4. Ringworm at the Beat Kitchen on Monday night.

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5. Stryper at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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6. Star Fucking Hipsters at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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7. Lolita No. 18 at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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8. Fighting For Scraps at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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9. Sunday Church Riot at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. al-Qaeda Accounting Department, WTF?

Al-Qaeda might be well-organized, but it wants to blow up people as cheaply as possible. You can admire thriftiness, even when it comes to murderous plots. That might seem a small matter but they appear to manage money better than Lehman Brothers and AIG did.

But sometimes you get what you pay for. A maroon who puts a bomb in his underwear has some cognitive dissonance issues.

His handlers decided a ticket to Chicago was too expensive; so they settled for Detroit apparently not aware that any havoc created by blowing up Detroit might not have been noticed.

But what, we ask, is the matter with blowing up Pittsburgh?

The flight to Pittsburgh could have worked out much better. And cheaper, too. A British Airways flight from Amsterdam is only $1,658. Sure it's economy class, and a bomb in your shorts will make it a tad uncomfortable.

But this "however" note in the Associated Press story caught WTF's eye: "Abdulmutallab left Yemen in December 2009 and made his way to Ghana, where he paid $2,831 in cash for a round-trip ticket from Nigeria to Amsterdam to Detroit and back."

Buying one-way tickets is a profile tipoff for terrorists, though a bomb in your shorts apparently isn't.

Nonetheless, Islamokamikazes who carry round-trip tickets don't seem as committed to jihad as you'd expect.

2. Gurnee Bombers, WTF?

If the Fourth of July (and Iraq and Afghanistan) doesn't prove we are a nation that loves to blow up things, this should. These junior jihadists didn't hide trampoline-destroying bombs in their knickers, (a wise choice) but they were demonstrating our national devotion to explosives. What's more American?

It might have seemed utilitarian had they just stolen the trampoline instead of doing a Hurt Locker. That would have shown a lack of vision and patriotic spirit. For that, they deserve a WTF attaboys salute.

3. Lottery Numbskull, WTF?

Aren't some people just too stupid to deserve good luck? That's a rhetorical question. But the answer is Yes.

WTF is particularly aggrieved with this aspect of the addled lottery winner from the Trib's account: "The 61-year-old retired truck driver said that he hasn't decided what he's going to do with the money. (Ed's note - 9 million freakin' dollars!) Though he said he definitely would have been upset had he missed the deadline, he was doing okay before and the prize is hardly life-changing."

A retired trucker whose life is unchallenged by 9 very large should be put in a WTF home.

4. Ald. Bernard Stone, WTF?

And speaking of being put in a home, consider Berny's recent aldermanic misfeasance.

Some crimes are evil. Others are merely pathetic. Maybe we need a new word for violations like this.

Evithetic?

Peevil?

Felonious Monk?

Alderman Stone has never looked so old, pitiable and fossilized. Baffled by the concepts of good sportsmanship and ethics, he appears to be running as the standard bearer in the "Elect Me Or I'll Have To Go Into Assisted Living Party."

Okay, so Berny is clearly running scared (or maybe it's ossified?) because his explanation of this event could only be true if . . . well, actually there is no way his explanation could be true.

5. Michael Jordan, WTF?

Aren't we tired of him yet? Maybe Michael Jordan is a swell guy and we just don't know the full breadth and depth of his devotion to human causes, but what he seems most intent on contributing to Chicago these days is lousy, overpriced food which he does routinely when the aftertaste of his previous restaurant venture subsides.

True, he is only selling his name to cover someone else's grubby grub, but as moral high grounds goes, that's a very short porch.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

March 24, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"When an admitted al-Qaeda operative planned his itinerary for a Christmas 2009 airline bombing, he considered launching the strike in the skies above Houston or Chicago, The Associated Press has learned. But tickets were too expensive, so he refocused the mission on a cheaper destination: Detroit."

Poor Detroit. (No pun intended.)

See also:
* Detroit Loses A Staggering 25% Of Its Population In A Decade

* Lower Census Numbers Means Detroit Could Lose Millions Of Dollars

* Recipe For A Detroit Comeback: Be Weird

* In Detroit, Artists Look For Renewal In Foreclosures

* Inaugural Art X Detroit Festival To Combine Music, Art, Writers

* Detroit Needs Robocop

* detroitblog: stories from the motor city

Bag Boy
"Jewel-Osco baggers are being trained to stop double-bagging, refrain from bagging an item with a handle, and never ask, 'Paper or plastic?'" the Sun-Times reports.

"The rules are aimed at saving money - to the tune of $4 million to $6 million yearly - with each 2-cent plastic and 5-cent paper bag left unused at the checkout counter."

*

"When I became assistant manager at a Jewel store in Joliet, Ill., at age 21, I came to understand that leadership is about listening, knowing your customer, understanding your business and being accountable in the decision process," CEO Craig Herkert recently told Supermarket News. "Keeping this in mind has served me well throughout my career."

Let me tell you something, Craig: Your customers don't want you skimping on bags.

Especially when you're making $10 mil a year and you're on the Forbes 500.

Lick It, Ricketts
The Cubs franchise increased in value by 6 percent to $773 million in the last year, according to Forbes.

Which makes the Cubs something of a toy for the Ricketts family, which has an estimated worth of $1 billion

And yet:

"Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts says he's going to to keep pitching his proposal to rebuild that aging jewel known as Wrigley Field with a combination of private and public funds," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's

To that end, Ricketts has already met - albeit briefly - with the mayor-elect.

*

"Any unbiased mayor would look at the situation between the Sox and the Cubs and conclude the great burden on the Cubs has not been placed on the Sox,'' consultant Marc Ganis told the Tribune's approving David Haugh.

Maybe an unbiased mayor would look at the situation and conclude we shouldn't get fooled again.

Or quite simply that taxpayers shouldn't subsidize the private ventures of the country's wealthiest individuals.

*

Plus, hello?

*

And don't get started on the economic benefits argument; sports economists debunked that long ago.

("[E]conomists who study the sports industry say the only way to underestimate the economic value of subsidizing stadium construction is to use negative numbers," the New York Times reports. "Experience suggests that subsidies for stadiums yield negligible economic benefits and expand the gap between the superrich and everyone else.")

No Class
"Ill. Legislators To U of I: 'Prepare Yourself For Cuts.'"

I think they have.

*

Does anyone else notice a pattern here?

*

By the way, U of I president Michael Hogan makes $620,000 a year - $170,000 more than his predecessor.

Temp Agencies
Methinks interim agency heads wouldn't be making such drastic moves if they weren't pre-approved by the mayor-elect.

But what a repudiation of the last mayor, whose approval was needed by the previous agency heads.

Parallel Lines
The value of the Cubs is roughly the same as the deficit faced by the Chicago Public Schools.

So Cub
Announcer finalist couldn't come to terms with the team.

"Frequent Churchgoers Frequently Fatter"
"'There's certainly a church culture around eating,' said Erik Christensen, a pastor at St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square."

Weinglass Dies
"Leonard Weinglass, a lawyer who gained notoriety representing US left-wing activists including the Chicago Seven and Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg, has died at 78, his law associate said Thursday."

Great Fire
The only king of my grief is me.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Pattern bargaining.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Great Fire

Great Fire

Eyes: bring water.
Great fire burning through.
Apollo, sun-god, king
Of shadows,

Let me burn.
He commanded the shadows
To flee
And there was me,

Animal and panicking.
Self-immolation,
Silent as shadow,
Now shrieking

Like a Valkyrie.
Another blood-red star
On my tattered standard.
No round of drinks

Can extinguish this.
Corrupt, excoriating bliss.
Apollo commanded the shadows
To flee

And there was me,
Animal and panicking.
Blame Apollo, blame Romulus,
Blame Tribune.

Yet they do not father
This flame.
The only king
Of my grief

Is me. The fire bell
Tolls for me. Not thee.
I must change
My life.

-

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

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

The Papers won't be appearing today, but will return tomorrow.

But you can busy yourself for at least a little while with these two new offerings:

* In Praise Of Pinetop Perkins. In light of Pinetop's passing this week, we're reposting this piece from 2008.

* Fantasy Fix: What's So Special About Carlos Zambrano? The answer: He goes both ways.

The [Tuesday] Papers
1. Now we've gone and done it. (It's not us - at least I know it's not me - but we can take credit for inspiring it.)

2. New York to Chicago: Football to golf.

3. Chicago To St. Louis High-Speed Rail Line To Get Funding Boost.

Question: Why would I want to get to St. Louis faster?

4. Boeing CEO Pay Flat At $13.8 Million.

Flat when compared to Billy Daley's pay, that is.

*

Bill Daley: AT&T's Best Friend.

*

Bill Daley Sidesteps Question About Jail Time For Wall Street Execs.

*

But, you know, keep fighting!

You know, for AT&T and Wall Street. Because that's what it means to be a Democrat.

5. "I worked locally in Chicago," Brent Musburger tells Yahoo! Sports, "first as a writer for the Chicago Daily News and then as a broadcaster. First time I saw the term 'March Madness,' it was print, in an ad for a car dealer. It was referring to the Illinois high school basketball tournament. [Ed. Note: the term originally comes from a magazine writer describing the high school tournament in 1939: 'A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.'] When we got the rights to the NCAA tournament in 1982, it was something that seemed appropriate to say."

But . . .

"The Illinois High School Association tried to trademark 'March Madness' in 1989. Then, in 1996, the IHSA sued in the NCAA in an effort to stop one of its corporate partners from using the term on a CD-ROM game. Eventually, the two sides reached a compromise: the IHSA can use the phrase on the high school level, and the NCAA gets the college tournament."

6. "The first time hipster was published in the Tribune was in 1946, in reference to the fascinating character who claims to have coined the word: Harry 'The Hipster' Gibson, aka Harry Raab, a Jewish kid from the Bronx who cut his teeth in playing pianos in Harlem speakeasies, eventually working as Fats Waller's fill-in . . . and, his proponents claim, pioneered the style associated with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard years before anyone had figured out how to rock," Whet Moser writes.

7. Screeching Weasel.

8. "Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago recently discovered what banks had probably already figured out: When cardholders are offered cash back, they tend to spend more, and rack up more debt," NASDAQ.com reports.

"With an added 1% cash-back reward, the Fed found that cardholders earn an average of $25 in cash back per month. But they spend $68 more per month, and pay off less of it, increasing their overall debt level.

9. Berwyn to pay bills with American Express card.

10. "More than 900 people who were arrested by Chicago police during a 2003 protest of the Iraq War can sue the city, the 7th Circuit ruled," Courthouse News Service reports.

11. Chicago band shills for flashlights.

12. Jennifer Beals shills for Beyoncé, Chicago.

13. Panel of average Americans trapped in cage.

14. Our Brackets Are Busted Too: The Inside Story.

15. The Wait Is Over: Leinenkugel's Refreshing Summer Shandy Makes A Much-Anticipated Return For Parched Fans.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tell 'em Mayor McGuinness sent you.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

In Praise of Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins, 97, a blues pianist who worked with such legendary musicians as Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and B.B. King, died March 21 at his home in Austin from cardiac arrest," the Washington Post reports.

-

The piece below appeared in the Beachwood on June 5, 2008.

-

It's Pinetop Perkins Week here in Chicago: the legendary blues pianist - about to turn 95 - played during lunch at the Chicago Cultural Center on Tuesday, performed on Chicago Tonight last night, and is on the bill at the Chicago Blues Festival today and at the House of Blues tonight. He also has a new record out this month on Telarc. And he's got a cool-ass name.

Here's to you, Pinetop Perkins.

*

PinetopPerkins.com:"Pinetop Perkins is one of the last great Mississippi bluesmen still performing. He began playing blues around 1927 and is widely regarded as one of the best blues pianists. He's created a style of playing that has influenced three generations of piano players and will continue to be the yardstick by which great blues pianists are measured."

*

Down In Mississippi:

*

"Pinetop is perhaps best known for his work with Muddy Waters. In 1969, Muddy designated Pinetop to replace the great Otis Spann in his legendary band. Pinetop helped shape the Waters sound and anchored Muddy's memorable combo throughout the 1970's with his brilliant ivory work."

*

"The last job I had I learned how to drive tractor, and after the landlord killed my dog in Clarksdale, I was thinkin', "I might be next!" I loved that dog. So I took off."

*

From Wikipedia:

"Perkins was born in Belzoni, Mississippi. He began his career as a guitarist, but then injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a choirgirl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Perkins switched to the piano."

*

At Pinetop's MySpace page:

- Chicken Shack
- Got My Mojo Workin'
- Grindin' Man

*

From Reuters:

Pinetop Perkins Accepts Grammy Award for Traditional Blues: Bluesmen finally get their due at the Grammys

Two bluesmen in their 90s won the first Grammys of their colorful careers on Sunday, a reminder that there's more to the music industry than fresh-faced youngsters.

Pianist Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, 94, and guitarist David "Honeyboy" Edwards, 92, won the traditional blues Grammy for their appropriately titled album Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas.

*

New Release (From PinetopPerkins.com):

"Pinetop Perkins celebrates his 95th birthday with his friends and Telarc Recordings with a new release Pinetop Perkins and Friends, slated for June 3rd. There are very few direct ties left to the golden age of post-World War II American blues - that seminal period in the 1940s and '50s when the acoustic sounds of the Mississippi delta migrated northward and gave way to the more electric groove of northern locales like Chicago and St. Louis. With the passing of John Lee Hooker and Robert Lockwood Jr. in recent years, almost no one can claim any first-hand connection to seminal figures like Muddy Waters or harpist Sonny Boy Williamson.

"Pinetop Perkins is among the few. Perkins, now in his 90s, has been playing blues and boogie piano for more than six decades. In that time, he's had numerous encounters and collaborations with the aforementioned legends, as well as titans like Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker, B.B. King, Willie Dixon and Howlin' Wolf.

"Pinetop is joined by a dozen high-caliber musicians, many of them legendary in their own right, all of whom hold him in the highest regard. Included on the star-studded guest list are Eric Clapton, Willie Kent, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan and many more."

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: What's So Special About Carlos Zambrano

The SP/RP designation is a favorite among fantasy baseball veterans.

Dip into the pool of pitchers who qualify both as starter and reliever, and you never know what you'll find.

Maybe a top-tier reliever who has been stretched out to be used as a starter; perhaps a young fifth (or even sixth these days) starter making a name for himself; even the occasional veteran starter who earned his "RP" during a brief visit to the bullpen.

The flexibility of these player can give your fantasy pitching staff an extra start or two each week - more innings, more strikeouts, more chance for wins - if you pick the right SP/RPs.

I didn't want to include SP/RPs in my previous draft guide posts because really they're starters you'll use in the RP slot, but they also wouldn't necessarily make anyone's list of top 20 starters.

With that in mind, I have made a list of SP/RPs worth drafting this year, as well as RPs who likely will earn the accompanying SP designation early in the season.

SP/RPs

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs: An example of an SP who spent a brief time as an RP, the ticking Zambomb is always a risk, but looked great at the end of 2010 and is having a solid spring. Could be among league's strikeout leaders again if he behaves.

Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa: Got a brief tryout last season and a ton of hype has built around him as Tampa's next young pitching star after David Price. Has a definite shot at 12 wins or more.

Brian Duensing, Minnesota: Another guy who got a peek at the action for the Twins late last year, he didn't just catch on at the end of the rotation, but will actually be the fourth starter, meaning he won't lose a starts during short weeks.

Tim Stauffer, San Diego: Much-hyped youth spent some time in the bullpen last year. He has had some injury concerns this spring, but still has had several good outings and could deliver a great ERA starting some games at Petco Park.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland: Started 29 games last year and relieved in a handful. His 6-13 record masks some quality starts, He did have a complete game shutout last year, and could provide 150 strikeouts.

Chris Capuano, Milwaukee: Former starter spent a couple seasons in the bullpen and is coming back from a serious injury, but he has had a great spring and will pitch for a very promising team.

Sleeper: Bruce Chen, Kansas City: These guys in a way are all sleepers, but Chen could make an interesting waiver pick-up during the season. He doesn't strike out very many, but he did have 12 wins last year, and the Royals supposedly are about to break from the legacy of awfulness.

RPs likely to go SP

Neftali Feliz, Texas: The top-tier closer is getting closer to starting (though the Rangers are treating the decision like it has national security implications). He's lights-out and could deliver 200 strikeouts if he starts all season.

Andrew Cashner, Cubs: Appears destined to start the season as the fifth starter, though not confirmed yet. Could struggle for wins, but he's got the desirable almost 1-to-1 strikeouts to innings ratio.

Kyle McClellan, St. Louis: Confirmed to start, and he's in great coaching hands. If the Cardinals are any good, he should get double-digit wins and many quality starts.

Phil Coke, Detroit: Looks likely that this lefty, a formerly much-hyped Yankee draft pick, will start the season as a starter. As with Stauffer, performing in a pitcher's park should really help him.

Phil Humber, White Sox: I'm reaching here, but I'm intrigued by this former first-round draft pick's comeback track with the Sox. Pitching coach Don Cooper is just the man to guide him, and with Jake Peavy now out to start the season, Humber should get at least a few starts.

Sleeper: Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati: The Cuban Cannon (I think I just made that up) looked like a starter in spring training 2010, but the Reds sent him down, and we didn't see him again until late in the year, when he did make some noise as a reliever. Really more of a long-term projection if the Reds lose a starter or two.

Expert WIre
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has a review of the Tout Wars fantasy draft from the defending champ of the famous elite league.

* Bleacher Report asks what is becoming an annual question: Can Russell Martin be a fantasy stud again?

* USA Today touts a "Core Four" strategy for drafting your fantasy baseball team.

* The Modesto Bee says you should just listen to your gut.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:44 AM | Permalink

March 22, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Now we've gone and done it. (It's not us - at least I know it's not me - but we can take credit for inspiring it.)

2. New York to Chicago: Football to golf.

3. Chicago To St. Louis High-Speed Rail Line To Get Funding Boost.

Question: Why would I want to get to St. Louis faster?

4. Boeing CEO Pay Flat At $13.8 Million.

Flat when compared to Billy Daley's pay, that is.

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Bill Daley: AT&T's Best Friend.

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Bill Daley Sidesteps Question About Jail Time For Wall Street Execs.

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But, you know, keep fighting!

You know, for AT&T and Wall Street. Because that's what it means to be a Democrat.

5. "I worked locally in Chicago," Brent Musburger tells Yahoo! Sports, "first as a writer for the Chicago Daily News and then as a broadcaster. First time I saw the term 'March Madness,' it was print, in an ad for a car dealer. It was referring to the Illinois high school basketball tournament. [Ed. Note: the term originally comes from a magazine writer describing the high school tournament in 1939: 'A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.'] When we got the rights to the NCAA tournament in 1982, it was something that seemed appropriate to say."

But . . .

"The Illinois High School Association tried to trademark 'March Madness' in 1989. Then, in 1996, the IHSA sued in the NCAA in an effort to stop one of its corporate partners from using the term on a CD-ROM game. Eventually, the two sides reached a compromise: the IHSA can use the phrase on the high school level, and the NCAA gets the college tournament."

6. "The first time hipster was published in the Tribune was in 1946, in reference to the fascinating character who claims to have coined the word: Harry 'The Hipster' Gibson, aka Harry Raab, a Jewish kid from the Bronx who cut his teeth in playing pianos in Harlem speakeasies, eventually working as Fats Waller's fill-in . . . and, his proponents claim, pioneered the style associated with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard years before anyone had figured out how to rock," Whet Moser writes.

7. Screeching Weasel.

8. "Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago recently discovered what banks had probably already figured out: When cardholders are offered cash back, they tend to spend more, and rack up more debt," NASDAQ.com reports.

"With an added 1% cash-back reward, the Fed found that cardholders earn an average of $25 in cash back per month. But they spend $68 more per month, and pay off less of it, increasing their overall debt level.

9. Berwyn to pay bills with American Express card.

10. "More than 900 people who were arrested by Chicago police during a 2003 protest of the Iraq War can sue the city, the 7th Circuit ruled," Courthouse News Service reports.

11. Chicago band shills for flashlights.

12. Jennifer Beals shills for Beyoncé, Chicago.

13. Panel of average Americans trapped in cage.

14. Our Brackets Are Busted Too: The Inside Story.

15. The Wait Is Over: Leinenkugel's Refreshing Summer Shandy Makes A Much-Anticipated Return For Parched Fans.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tell 'em Mayor McGuinness sent you.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:02 PM | Permalink

Panel Of Caged Average Americans Weigh In On Economy

The most reliable caged Americans in cable news give their trenchant, homespun insight into current events.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 PM | Permalink

Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé

Just wants to save her city.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously:
* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 PM | Permalink

Mr. Blotto For Rayovac Flashlights

We hit the road and met Paul Bolger, a founding member and lead singer of Mr. Blotto a band spun out of many genres of music which started in 1991. They are a Chicago institution and one of our favorite bands on the local/regional scene. Paul was nice enough to let us come by their rehearsal space and talk about Mr. Blotto's story.

Paul showed us his tambura, an instrument that looks like a sitar; although if you were to say that to anyone who plays a tambura they would say you were crazy. This beautiful instrument was used by the Beatles in the the song, "Within You Without You."

A lot of people ask Paul about the longevity of this band. He explains that it's not about having an attitude or posing but it's about the music. We like that answer.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 PM | Permalink

The Wait Is Over: Leinenkugel's Refreshing Summer Shandy Makes A Much-Anticipated Return For Parched Fans

Leinenkugel's best-selling lemonade-flavored seasonal brew returns for the summer.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. - For those who could use a slice of summer after a brutal winter, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, Wis., announces the nationwide return of warm weather refresher, Summer Shandy.

Leinenkugel's was the first brewer to bottle a shandy-style brew in the U.S. and now offers Summer Shandy, available April through August, in cans, bottles and on draft.

When Summer Shandy - an adventurous blend of select malted wheat and barley, lemonade flavor and a hint of Wisconsin honey - went into hibernation last September fans raced to grab the last case. Since then, thousands of fans anxiously awaiting its return have inquired about making Summer Shandy, the 144-year-old brewer's best-selling seasonal of all time, a year-round offering.

Initially introduced in the Upper Midwest in 2007, summertime adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts and beachgoers rejoiced when Leinenkugel's introduced Summer Shandy in 12-ounce cans in April 2010, offering more ways to satisfy summertime thirst.

"There's nothing like a cold Leinie's Summer Shandy on a warm summer day. When we bottled our combination of high quality craft beer with tangy lemonade, we never imagined fans would respond so passionately," says Jake Leinenkugel, fifth-generation brewer and president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, who noted that fans can share a virtual Shandy and count down the seconds until the brew returns to shelves on April 1, thanks to a live Summer Shandy countdown clock at www.leinie.com.

The "shandy" (which is short for "shandygaff"), as it's called in England and Germany, is typically a mixture of beer and soda or lemonade which has been enjoyed across Europe since the 17th century. Another variation of a shandy is the "radler," which is a German term for cyclist. In September 1922, Franz Xaver Kugler developed the radler, when approximately 13,000 cyclists visited his tavern in Munich. His beer supply started to run out, so he cleverly mixed the remaining beer with lemonade and claimed to have created the blend especially for the cyclists.

Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy features a tangy character with malty undertones of hops. Its tart lemon flavoring complements spicy and robust grilling dishes, and its subtle hoppiness creates the perfect balance for summertime salads. See food recipe featuring Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy below.

Summer Shandy contains 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). It will be available where Leinenkugel's is sold in 12-pack 12-oz. cans, 6- and 12-pack bottles and on draft. Summer Shandy retails for approximately $6.99 to $7.99 a 6-pack.

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Put a fresh twist on Leinenkugel's summer brew this year with Leinenkugel's Grilled Shrimp Tacos. Ideal for ramped up baseball tailgates and summertime barbeques, this dish packs Summer Shandy's zest into every bite!

ShrimpTacoscrop043305.jpgLeinenkugel's Grilled Shrimp Tacos, Charred Jalapeno Lime Slaw and Cilantro Cream
Serves 4

36 shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 corn tortillas

Shrimp Seasoning
1/4 cup Old Bay
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon cayenne

Cilantro Cream
8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. chopped cilantro
4 oz. mayo
2 oz. honey

Charred Jalapeno Lime Slaw
1/2 head cabbage, sliced as thin as possible
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup corn, frozen, defrosted
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro
3 jalapenos, grilled or roasted, sliced with seeds
2 oz. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy

Mix the Old Bay, chili powder, celery salt and cayenne in a large metal bowl. Add the shrimp, coat well, and put in refrigerator.

For the cilantro cream, mix all ingredients with a whisk, put in small bowl and refrigerate.

For the slaw, mix cabbage, sugar, tomatoes, corn, lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos and Summer Shandy, let sit out and marinate (can be made up to a day in advance).

For the assembly, place shrimp on a hot grill and cook evenly on both sides. When all shrimp are cooked, place in a bowl, and quickly grill tortillas to soften. In the softened tortillas, place cabbage, then shrimp and finish by drizzling cilantro cream.

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"Trip to the Chip" Sweepstakes
Just in time for Summer 2011, Leinenkugel's is introducing an adventurous sweepstakes, "Trip to the Chip," offering craft beer fans the chance to win a trip to Chippewa Falls, the legendary spot where Leinenkugel's began 144 years ago. The grand prize will include a five-night stay for two at a Northwoods resort, a Leinenkugel's Northwoods dinner, a Leinie-branded canoe and $500 in Leinenkugel's gear. Running nationally, May through early September, the interactive "Trip to the Chip" sweepstakes invites craft beer fans to enter the official entry code found on neck labels from specially-marked packages of Leinenkugel's Classic Amber, Summer Shandy, Sunset Wheat and Honey Weiss via text or online at www.leinie.com.

About Leinenkugel's
Leinenkugel's, brewed in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is the leading craft brewer in the upper Midwest. Year-round offerings include Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, Honey Weiss, Berry Weiss, Leinie's Red, Creamy Dark, Original, Light and Classic Amber Lager. In addition to Summer Shandy, Leinenkugel's offers three other limited-release seasonal beers including Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest, Fireside Nut Brown and 1888 Bock. Leinenkguel's has a dedicated fan base of more than 200,000 Leinie loyalists living throughout the U.S. Leinie loyalists are a group of devoted fans of the specialty brewer who stay in touch virtually throughout the year via Leinenkugel's newsletters and gather for the Leinie Lodge Family Reunion in Chippewa Falls, Wis. every June. For more information on the rich history of Leinenkugel's, visit www.leinie.com or join virtual Leinie loyalists at www.facebook.com/leinenkugels.

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Comments welcome.

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Previously:
* Leinie's Listens!
* A Legendary Favorite Returns: Leinie Limited
* Leinenkugel's Prepares Football Fans For An Unforgettable Wisconsin-Style Big Game Party

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

Our Brackets Are Busted Too: The Inside Story

We have seen a lot of close ones in the opening rounds. We have seen some controversial calls, good upsets, and really stupid, game-changing fouls. The Southwest Region is a train wreck. The other three regionals nearly went chalk.

* The round of 64 had 10 games of the 32 total decided by four points or less; five of those by two.

* The round of 32 had 5 games of the 16 total decided by one or two points.

* VCU proved everybody wrong by winning 3 games easily to make it to the Sweet 16.

* Only two teams remain from the 11 in the Big East.

* My girlfriend's bracket is faring much better than mine. (Note: I take full credit for her bracket.)

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East

I previously wrote that George Mason (8) could give Villanova (9) some problems here and they did. West Virgina (5) kept it close, but Kentucky (4) pulled it out at the end. I had WVU advancing here and felt the chances were good as Kentucky nearly lost to Princeton (13) in the round of 64; Brandon Knight who missed his first seven shots of the game, made a layup with two seconds to go to seal that one.

I also wrote Marquette (11) could go deep, and they did. Darius Johnson-Odom made a 3-pointer to break a tie with 27 seconds left and they went on to beat Syracuse by four in the round of 32. In my bracket I have Marquette over North Carolina (2) to advance to the Elite Eight. Vegas currently has UNC as a five-point favorite and I agree; it will be hard for Marquette to pull this one off.

North Carolina barely made it past Washington (7) in a controversial finish.

Teams remaining: Ohio St. (1) vs Kentucky (4), Friday 8:45 pm (CBS). North Carolina (2) vs Marquette (11) , Friday 6:15 pm (CBS). Friday's winners play Sunday at a yet to be determined time.

Outlook: I'm taking OSU and Marquette in the Elite Eight, with OSU advancing to the Final Four. North Carolina is still an X-factor. I think Marquette has a very good shot at upsetting UNC although most will disagree with me here. I still don't see OSU losing in this region.

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West

I previously wrote that Missouri (11) could beat Cincinnati (6) and that Memphis (12) could beat Arizona (5), neither of which happened. Michigan (8) was down by 15 points at one point against Duke (1) in the round of 32 and got it back to within one point twice late in the game. They had a chance to put it into overtime or win on the last possession but missed.

Texas (4) lost a controversial one to Arizona. A controversial five-second violation amidst an attempted timeout call, followed by a foul that UT player Jordan Hamilton says he never felt. UT got hosed here - but in scenarios like these it's still the team's fault for getting themselves into a situation that allows for a potentially stupid call to be missed. Play a little bit better and you control your own destiny.

I had Texas over Duke in a Sweet 16 match-up that we will not be able to see. I previously wrote SDSU (2) shouldn't have problems making it to at least the Sweet 16 and they did. Unfortunately in my bracket I had Temple (7) advancing here instead.

Teams remaining: Duke (1) vs Arizona (5), Thursday 8:45 pm (CBS). SDSU (2) vs Connecticut (3), Thursday 6:15 pm (CBS). Thursday's winners play on Saturday with tipoff times TBD.

Outlook: I didn't expect Duke to make it to the Elite Eight as I initially thought Texas would be in the Sweet 16. Also we did not know that Kyrie Irving was going to be back from injury and available. Given Irving's status and that they play Arizona, I'm taking Duke in this match-up.

I'm taking Connecticut over SDSU, and then over Duke to get into the Final Four, regardless of Irving's status.

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Southwest

Did I say train wreck? This region was a catastrophe for most brackets. Kansas (1) is the only team remaining that is not a double-digit seed. Louisville (4) lost to Morehead St (13) by one point. Kenneth Faried, whom many are declaring a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft, grabbed 17 rebounds. Terrance Hill had 23 points on 5 of 6 from three-point range.

I didn't think Illinois (9) would win a game. They took one over UNLV (8) and then attended their own funeral against Bill Self and Kansas.

Richmond (12) defeated Vanderbilt (5), which I didn't see coming. This is your 12/5 upset for the tournament; the Spiders then defeated Morehead State.

I had Texas A&M (7) going to the Elite Eight as long as they could get past Florida St (10), which I previously warned about as a possible upset alert. FSU beat A&M and is now in the Sweet 16.

Purdue (3) lost to VCU (11) and Notre Dame (2) lost to FSU on the same night, along with Illinois, to take all our local schools out of contention. VCU proved they deserve their tournament bid with a Sweet 16 appearance. I was wrong about VCU and Georgetown, as VCU advances.

Richmond and VCU are both located in Richmond, VA. This would be an interesting Elite Eight match-up for the locals there; winner takes a Final Four bid. I don't see either one advancing though.

Teams remaining: Kansas (1) vs Richmond (12), Friday 6:27pm (TBS). Florida State (10) vs VCU (11), Friday 8:57pm (TBS). Friday's winners play on Sunday with tipoff times TBD.

Outlook: Kansas will even up their all-time record against Richmond to 1-1 with an easy victory here. The Morri' are just too much to handle. FSU has a special player in Michael Snaer. I'm taking FSU over VCU, which by the way is the first 10 vs. 11 match-up in NCAA history, according to STATS. Kansas over FSU to get their 14th Final Four bid.

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Southeast

Pitt (1) loses to Butler (8) in probably the most bizarre ending to a college basketball game I have ever seen. Butler was already dead and buried by some coming into the tournament; a repeat of last year's success would not happen nor would it be close. Butler squeaks by a tough Old Dominion (9) team in the round of 64, to meet Pitt. The game ended with both teams committing arguably the most stupid fouls in tournament history. Putting your opponent on the line with the clock stopped at 1.4 seconds to go and giving them two shots when they are down by one is dumb. Making the first free throw to tie and then fouling on the rebound of the second free throw nearly 90 feet away from their basket is dumber. Butler made the first to break the tie, missed the second on purpose and time expired. Wow.

I thought Utah State (12) was going to be to much for Kansas State (5) but that was not the case. Jacob Pullen willed the team into the round of 32 and nearly carried the entire team past Wisconsin (4) with lights out shooting right up until the end, but it wasn't enough.

St. John's (6) laid an egg and hosed this regional part of my bracket; I had them in the Elite Eight. Watch this team closely over the next couple years, they will continue to improve.

BYU (3) defeated Gonzaga (11) to get to the Sweet 16. Michigan State (10) nearly came back but lost to UCLA (7). I had MSU in the Sweet 16 and was wrong about that one. Florida (2) defeated UCLA and will face BYU. I still think Florida is overrated.

Teams remaining: Wisconsin (4) vs Butler (8), Thursday 8:57pm (TBS). Florida (2) vs BYU (3), Thursday 6:27pm (TBS). Thursday's winners play on Saturday with tipoff times TBD.

Outlook: They say the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long and I believe Butler's time is up, thanks to a more consistent back court for Wisconsin. Wisconsin over BYU to get into the Final Four. Gone are the days where one really talented player can pull an entire team to the FF and beyond.

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Nick's preview, when things still made sense:
* The Ball Is Round: Your Beachwood Bracket Packet.

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Also by Nick Shreders:
* Beachwood Inn Review: The Women's Bathroom

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

March 21, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"An Illinois-based Air National Guard unit that specializes in refueling aircraft in mid-air is being deployed to help establish a no-fly zone over Libya, state military officials said Sunday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The 126th Air Refueling Wing, which is based at Scott Air Force Base in southwest Illinois, and its subordinate unit, the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, will be part of United Nations-backed effort to establish a no-fly zone."

Links courtesy of The Beachwood Linking The News Project.

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The 126th is also on Facebook, as is Scott. Scott is also on Twitter.

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Flyin' DPOD Presents . . . the venerable KC-135:

"Indispensable airborne gas station to all aircraft in the U.S. inventory and many allied ones since 1956, from B-52s to F-22s. What General Patton said of tanks is equally applicable to airplanes: They gotta have gas!"

Taking On Their Own Lobbyists?
Exelon Funds $250,000 Anti-Bullying Initiative.

Will Be Merged With Anorexia For Dummies Brand
Fortune Brands Buys Skinnygirl Spirits Brand.

Downward Slide
Quinn heading into Blago territory.

Blago Territory
"A federal judge in Chicago said Monday he doesn't think a motion by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to cancel his upcoming retrial is serious and declined to formally rule on the request," AP reports.

"Judge James Zagel told attorneys at a status hearing that he doesn't have the authority to call off a trial. He added that he expects the motion 'to go away by itself' and 'vanish into thin air.'"

If only Blago would do the same.

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Everyone's gonna make that joke, but maybe I got there first?

ConPflegeration
With the Rev. Michael Pfleger once again facing reassignment from his beloved St. Sabina, now is an opportune time to dip into Robert McClory's Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice.

And that's just what I did.

Favorite part: Cardinal George's racial remark.

About That Bailout
More Obama bullshit exposed.

Buh-Bye, Illini
Don't let the gym doors hit you in the ass on your way out, guys.

NerdFest Chicago
Um, wow.

Repo Chicago
The pilot that didn't make it.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Memo From Mayor McGuinness
Join us tonight for another new episode of The Chicago Code, shown exclusively at the Beachwood Inn! You can't see it anywhere else! FCC regulations apply!

Show starts at 8. Jukebox starts right back up at 9. Free pizza will be served, along with witty banter and observational humor. The beer and liquor will cost you - but not much.

Doors open at 5, close at 2.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Refuel.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

Behind Administration Spin: Bailout Still $123 Billion In The Red

The administration has been on a PR offensive in recent months to tell the good news about the TARP. As the Treasury Department official in charge of the TARP is saying at a congressional hearing last week, the bailout won't cost anywhere near the full $700 billion Congress authorized. In fact, many of its investments have turned a profit, and some of its most infamous bailouts - such as the rescue of AIG - won't end up being the tax dollar black holes they once seemed sure to be.

But the true picture isn't so rosy.

At ProPublica, we've provided a comprehensive bailout database since TARP's launch. It shows not only how much money has gone to each recipient, but how much each has paid in interest and dividend payments. With all this data, we're able to clearly show how deep in the hole the program remains. And the answer as of today is $123 billion.

Add that to the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - which our site also tracks and is separate from the TARP - and taxpayers are $257 billion in the hole.

Although the bailout has extended to nearly a thousand institutions, just a few are primarily responsible for the continued deficit: Fannie and Freddie, of course, AIG, and the auto companies (GM, Chrysler, GMAC).

As for Fannie and Freddie, no solution seems imminent. They're currently $134 billion in the red (counting their dividend payments) - more than the entire TARP. Congress and the administration are in the initial stages of discussing how the companies should be wound down and how much of the investment could be recouped.

AIG is a different story. It has started repaying the taxpayers' investments. So far, about $9 billion has come back, leaving the amount outstanding at $58.7 billion. The government holds a 92.1 percent stake in the company, which will be sold off over time. The process could take anywhere between six months and two years, Treasury officials told the Congressional Oversight Panel, and there's a strong possibility that the government could recoup its entire investment.

The country's largest banks (Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo) have also all paid back their TARP investments with a profit for the government.

But the government's rescue of the auto industry (specifically, GM, Chrysler, and GMAC) almost certainly won't ever make its way out of the red. As of today, the hole is $47 billion.

How much will the TARP end up costing when everything's said and done? The short answer is that it's anyone's guess. The Congressional Budget Office put the toll at about $25 billion in November. Part of the reason the projected cost is so low is actually the poor performance of the administration's foreclosure prevention programs, which seem likely to spend far less than the $50 billion initially set aside for them.

Hundreds of smaller banks also haven't paid the money back, and many are struggling. According to SNL Financial, 154 banks that received TARP money are delinquent on dividend payments to the government. That's about 22 percent of the 707 banks that received money through the TARP, but because the banks are generally quite small, the government's total investment in all these struggling banks only amounts to about $3.9 billion. So far, six banks that received TARP funds have failed, and one more, CIT, went bankrupt, according to research from Keefe, Bruyette and Woods.

We update our bailout database regularly - so check back to see the progress.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

Scenes From NerdFest Chicago: C2E2

That would be the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

1. Cosplay.

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2. Buffy & Faith.

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3. Quidditch.

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4. Mattell booth.

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5. Walking the floor.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Father Pfleger: Radical Disciple

With the Rev. Michael Pfleger once again facing reassignment from his beloved St. Sabina, now is an opportune time to dip into Robert McClory's Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice

The Billboards

"At the end of one unproductive meeting he asked a billboard official if he would ever consider saturating the Chicago Gold Coast or the affluent North Shore with the kind of concentrated advertising accorded the minority communities.

"'No,' said the official, 'they wouldn't allow us to do that.'

"'Then neither will we!' said Pfleger as he left the meeting."

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See also: City Balks As Billboards Overrun Poor Areas

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"Standing Up, Taking Back organized a two-day sit-in at the Midwest office of the Lorillard Tobacco Company, the manufacturer of Newports, in the upscale Chicago suburb of Naperville. More than one hundred protesters milled around the company grounds for the better part of two days, demanding that Lorillard cease inundating the minority community with ads and stop distributing caps and T-shirts that linked Newports with good times. 'Bouncing balls, skates, happy people - that's the image they give of cigarettes,' said Pfleger. 'They should be showing coffins instead.'"

The Liquor Stores Sting

"Standing Up, Taking Back also sponsored projects at the local level, one of which eventually created citywide reverberations. It was well known to Auburn Gresham parents that children as young as twelve were able to buy beer at local liquor and convenience stores - no identification required and no questions asked by clerks or owners.

"Pfleger decided it was time to determine how widespread the practice was, and he devised a carefully choreographed sting operation to provide answers. Three fourteen- and fifteen-year-old boys who had summer jobs at St. Sabina were recruited and trained. One or more would enter a store and attempt to buy a six-pack or a quart of beer. Several adults from a parish team would wait outside in a car. If the purchase was successful, the youths would get in the car and turn over the beer, the receipt, a description of the clerk, and any other relevant information, which was dutifully recorded.

"Over a two-month period the team visited thirty-four South Side stores along a three-mile stretch fof 79th Street and a mile and a half of Halsted Street. The receipts and the alcohol the youths provided established that they had been successful in purchasing beer in twenty-two of the thirty-four stores.

"Pfleger held a press conference in a vacant lot on 79th, providing all present with the names of the stores, copies of the receipts, and information about the whole operation. 'A young person who looks fourteen or fifteen years old can walk in and ask for a quart of Old English or a quart of Colt 45,' he said. 'These people [store owners] do not give a damn about our kids. They care about one thing: how much money can they make before they close their doors and drive off to another community.' He then turned all the evidence over to the district police commander.

"That evening Pfleger got a personal call from Mayor Daley, who asked that Pfleger present himself in the mayor's office in city hall the next morning. Pfleger was immediately concerned about what this meant. Hiring underage youth to commit unlawful activity was clearly illegal. He could be arrested and prosecuted for his audacity. Besides, this sting operation showed up and embarrassed Daley's police force, which should have been cracking down on establishments so openly selling liquor to children.

"When Pfleger walked into the mayor's office, his fears seemed justified. Sitting with Daley were Superintendent Philip Cline, the city corporation counsel, and the head of the zoning board. Daley immediately asked Pfleger to explain what he had been doing regarding liquor sales to young people. Pfleger described at length the details of the sting, emphasizing his motives and his abiding concern about the easy access children have to liquor and cigarettes, 'the gateway drugs' to narcotics.

"When he finished there was a moment of silence. Then, according to Pfleger, Daley turned toward his police superintendent and demanded, 'Why haven't you been doing this? Why does it take the reverend here to expose this criminal activity?' Cline and his corporation counsel tried to explain that the law does not permit police to involve underage youth in deceptive practices. 'I don't care,' thundered Daley. 'I want this stopped, and you find a way to do it!' Daley then politely thanked Pfleger for his work and wished him well."

The Reunion

"When [athletic director Christopher Mallette] told the pastor of his interest in [having the parish's teams play in] the Southwest Conference, Pfleger reacted with uncharacteristic hesitancy and caution. He was aware that the parishes of the SCC were the very ones to which many white families had fled from St. Sabina in the racial transition of the 1960s. And he knew from his own experience as a native South Sider (and from what Monsignor McMahon had shared with him in his early days at Sabina) about the hard feelings many of these 'refugees' harbored toward black people, which had been passed on in many cases to their children and grandchildren.

"Also fresh in his memory was the Grand Sabina Reunion in 1998 three years before, when all the graduates from the parish school from 1916 to 1966 were invited to a picnic, mass, and celebration of great memories. It was titled 'Goin' to Sabina's one more time.'

"But no one was going to Sabina's. A planning committee scheduled the event to be held on the grounds of St. Xavier University, some seven miles from the church, a convenient location for far South Siders and south suburbanites.

"Pfleger was not invited, nor were any graduates after 1966, a period of some thirty-two years, during which the school had continued to produce crops of grad every year. The cutoff, explained the promoters, was set at 1966 because that was 'the year the music died' - that is, the year the mammorth Sabina Sunday night dances were cancelled. That made no sense to Pfleger, since the event was billed as a school reunion and had no connection with the dance.

"A more likely, and sinister, explanation was racial discrimination. The class of 1966 had 17 black students out of a total of 111, while by the next year (and every year after that) the graduating class was predominantly black.

"Pfleger demanded to meet with the planning committee and did so at a South Side pancake house. When the tense conversation quieted, a leading member of the committee approached Pfleger and said bluntly, 'We have nothing in common with them,' referring to the post-1966 grads.

"Pfleger blew his stack, saying, 'It's what I thought - pure racism! You cannot do this, and unless all are invited I will fight you!' The committee refused to reconsider the invitation list, so Pfleger called the president of Xavier and Cardinal Bernardin, expressing his anger. Xavier then cancelled the use of its facilities, and the cardinal revoked permission for an outdoor mass on the university grounds. Pfleger, in turn, shared his views on the matter far and wide but with little effect.

"The Grand Sabina Reunion was held at a suburban forest preserve on August 20, 1998, with an estimated four thousand guests and a mass celebrated by eleven priests."

The SCC

"When the basketball season began, everything seemed to be going surprisingly well - at first. Security at the games was adequate to assuage fears; there were no forfeits at Sabina; and some parishes went out of their way to welcome the newcomers to the league. One even threw a pizza party for the team. But as the Sabina team (nicknamed 'the Saints') dominated opponents in many games, the mood shifted.

"Cardinal George did not help when he attended a game and good-naturedly told the Sabina team, 'Don't beat my boys too bad.' If the white kids were the cardinal's boys, the team wondered, then who were they?

"By mid-December, complaints about refereeing became more common, as were charges of rough play, especially throwing of elbows. Mallette told the Saints, 'Keep moving. They can't hurt you if they can't catch you.'

"There was little chatting or fraternization between parents and supporters from rival schools. Black parents clustered on one side of the gym cheering for their kids whle white parents huddled on the other side rooting on theirs. An angry woman approached Pfleger during a game at St. Germaine and accused him of being an anti-white racist. Later a group of adults accosted him in the parking lot, asking why he was bringing trouble into their peaceful community.

"With teams jockeying for play-off positions after the Christmas break, the tension increased. At St. Bede the Venerable, after a game which was called 'especially dirty' by Mallette, a Sabine player was confronted by a member of the St. Bede team who reportedly said in a loud voice, 'Time to leave, nigger!'

"Mallette regarded it as a clear-cut case of racial harassment and filed a grievance with the SCC. The executive committee acknowledged that the charge was valid but said Sabina failed to positively identify the offender. The incident, in fact, had been videotaped, and Mallette claimed the culprit could be positively identified.

"After considerable argument, the SCC finally agreed that the ideal remedy would be a mandatory mediation session at a neutral site with the two boys involved and their parents present. Failure by the accused to show up, said the executive committee, would result in St. Bede being barred from the playoffs.

"On the appointed evening, the Sabina youth and parents appeared; the St. Bede boy and his parents did not, sending instead a letter denying built.

"As a result, St. Bede was ruled ineligible for the playoffs. (The St. Sabina student later suded the SCC and the archdiocese, seeking more than one hundred thousand dollars for alleged racial taunts and for being compelled to dress for games in cafeterias and kitchens. The suit was resolved in 2007 with an unspecified amount paid to the youth.)

"Meanwhile, matters only got worse. The Sabina Saints, who were compiling the best records in the league, had been using an especially talented seventh-grader on both the seventh- and eighth-grade teams, as was considered acceptable in Chicago grammar and high schhol competition. The rules allowed for a youth at a lower level to compete also on an upper level team but not vice versa.

"Mallette was informed by the SCC that this procedure would not be permitted in the playoffs. The seventh-grader could only play on the seventh-grade team. Mallette vigorously pursued an appeal, asking how and when this new rule had been hatched and where he could find a copy. As it turned out, there was no rule; it was 'an unwritten rule.' But it was going to be enforced anyway.

"That decision soon became moot when Mallette was presented with a playoff schedule that had the two Sabina teams playing at the same time in two different gyms. In addition, Sabina was scheduled for no home playoff games at all despite having the top season records at both grade levels.

"Then came the final blow: Mallette learned in March on the eve of the playoffs that the SCC, without informing him, had reversed the penalty on St. Bede, and they would indeed be participating. Phelan, the conference chairman, explained that the executive board had 'changed its mind' and decided banning the team would be 'too steep' a penalty.

"It was, Mallette said, 'too much.' On March 7, 2002, Pfleger, Mallette, and Blakey met with the team members' parents and leaders of the Sabina community. They reviewed the events of the season, discussed the endless controversies, and asked for the will of the people. 'It was a difficult and painful decision,' said Pfleger. 'Do we win a trophy or teach a lesson in self-respect? Which is greater?'

"The gathering opted for self-respect. In a five-page letter to the SCC listing their grievances, including the failure to adequately address a racial insult, they wrote, 'We have unanimously decided that due to this issue and a myriad of other issues, which demonstrate a lack of equity and integrity, effective immediately we will no longer participate in South Side Conference activities and events."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

Repo Chicago: The Pilot

The first of four episodes.

The pilot for the TV series Repo Chicago, a show which is better than Operation Repo but was never picked up by the networks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Yes at House of Blues on Friday night.

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2. The Tossers at the Metro on Friday night.

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3. Cam'ron at the Congress on Thursday night.

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4. Phaded at the Kinetic Playground on Friday night.

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5. Steve Aoki at the Congress on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Buh-Bye, Illini

Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale and Demetri McCamey wrapped up their Illini careers on Sunday with yet more long stretches of incompetent basketball, especially in the clutch. They won't be missed.

The final nine minutes of their 73-59 loss to Kansas was a perfect illustration of why that is the case. It started with a Kansas miss after which Davis and Tisdale not only failed to secure the rebound, they failed to even contest it, giving one of Kansas' Morris twins the chance to grab an offensive rebound and put in an easy layup for a six-point lead.

A few minutes later, there was the seven-foot Tisdale taking a ridiculous 10-foot hook shot that Kareem wouldn't have even considered and missing badly. Davis had no chance for the offensive rebound but still tried to reach over someone's back and was called for the foul. During this stretch, McCamey was nowhere to be seen - except for two measly points with two minutes left and his team down by 15.

Tisdale soon had a chance for a tip-in, tried to dunk it instead of just tapping it over the rim and through the hoop, and missed. He took another hook and shockingly, missed again. Davis grabbed the offensive rebound and . . . threw it right to a Kansas defender.

Don't let the gym doors hit you in the ass on the way out, guys.

*

Tribune: Illinois Unable To Keep Up With Top-Seeded Kansas

Sun-Times: Illini Done Fighting After 73-59 Loss To Top-Seeded Kansas

New York Times: Kansas Dominates Inside to Beat Illinois

Daily Herald: Belief Here Is That Illini Should Strive For More

Kerrific
What a pleasure to have Steve Kerr providing the analysis on the Turner broadcast of the Illini game Sunday evening after doing the same for the earlier thrilling and controversial Arizona victory over Texas.

Kerr obviously has never taken the blood brother oath required for membership in the cult of the college coach and never will. All of the standard college basketball announcers work so hard in every game they cover to protect the coaches involved and if a viewer isn't careful, he or she gets used to it.

After you are continually assaulted with assurances such as timeouts that aren't merely good timeouts but "such a good timeout," or that a coach had just brought his squad all the back from a big deficit or done some other amazing thing for his team, it becomes awfully easy to believe the hype. But of course the coach doesn't ever do anything on the court. The good ones make sure their guys are well-drilled in skills and schemes in practice. Then a ref tosses the ball up and the players play.

There was nothing from Kerr (at least while I was watching) about what amazing schemes Sean Sutton (Arizona) or Rick Barnes (Texas) had implemented to make victory possible. There was plenty about the players, though. As there should be.

Hawk Chalk Talk
What a gritty, gutty - or should we say icy - Hawk win over the Phoenix Coyotes last night.

It would have been very, very easy to let this game get away or to have at least retreated into a defensive shell after Phoenix scored a fluky goal to tie it at 1 late in the second period. That would have put the visitors on track for a tie at the end of regulation and at least a point in the standings.

Of course, it would have also given the Coyotes at least a point, and a big boost in their efforts to clinch the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference and home ice advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs.

Late last month and early this one, the Hawks had that great eight-game win streak in which six of the games were with Western Conference foes and six were won in regulation. That meant that not only did the Hawks secure two points, but they also almost always prevented prominent rivals from getting even one point for a regulation tie. Then the Hawks went on the road against three Eastern Conference teams and struggled and then they faced the Dallas Stars late last week and suffered one of their most embarrassing losses of the season (a 5-0 shellacking).

So they really, really needed this win. And they got it despite the fact that leading goal-scorer Patrick Sharp suffered a leg injury late in the first period and was unable to return. That meant the Hawks were not only down a player, they were down their best sniper and one of the most handsome men in Chicago for goodness sake.

The primary, victorious ingredients were efficiency on the power play (the Hawks had two and scored on both), stingy defense (Phoenix mustered only 23 shots on goal), and a couple critical Corey Crawford saves. In the final minutes, he faced a breakaway and a three-on-one and both times he was able to turn away shots that seemed headed for an upper corner of the goal by flicking his blocker up and out in split seconds.

And finally there was Chris Campoli picking an awesome time for his first goal as a Blackhawk.

During his standard interview with Pat Foley and Steve Konroyd just before the start of the third period, assistant coach Mike Haviland said the Hawks would probably need another offensive contribution from a defenseman. Duncan Keith had scored the Hawks' first goal in the last minute of the first period.

Sure enough, after the Hawks lucked out when the Coyotes' Shane Doan was whistled for a shaky holding penalty, Campoli snuck in from the point to the back side of the net just as Patrick Kane was passing the puck down low to Jonathon Toews on the other side. Toews slid a perfect pass across the slot and Campoli one-timed it into the net.

*

The Hawks have 10 games left in the regular season. The good news is they are only three points behind fourth-place Phoenix and they have two games in-hand. The bad news is they are only one point ahead of eighth-place Anaheim and ninth-place Dallas. Hell, they're only two points ahead of 10th-place Calgary.

TV Land
Finally, how bizarre was it that the Hawks game was on free TV and the tournament games were not? Times have changed.

Has CBS seen the ratings for Sunday night football from last fall? It was the highest rated prime-time program of the fall/winter season, higher than CSI: Wherever or Dancing with the American Idol or anything else.

I could understand CBS taking a break from Sunday sports programming for 60 Minutes but then The Amazing Place (The Amazing Space? Chase? Race!) came on and I realized the evening's men's basketball games would not be broadcast over the free TV airwaves.

All that money you paid to televise the tournament, CBS, and you pass on Sunday evening? It's a head-scratcher.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

March 19, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

While our very own Natasha Julius is out on a secret mission we can't totally swear doesn't involve Libya, we'll keep an eye on the news so you don't have to.

Anita's Angle
"Seven years ago, Cook County prosecutors decided not to charge anyone in the violent death of David Koschman, saying it was because the Chicago Police Department didn't know for sure who had pushed or punched the 21-year-old from Mount Prospect during a drunken confrontation after a night of bar-hopping on Rush Street," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now that the police say they know who did it - Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, a nephew of Mayor Daley and White House Chief of Staff William Daley - Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez says there still isn't enough evidence to file criminal charges."

Keep your eye on the ball now.

"A written statement from her office said the case would be tough to prove because five of the nine witnesses - including four Koschman friends - now contradict what they told the police seven years ago."

Or did the police contradict them?

"In the original police reports, detectives say the witnesses told them Koschman had run or lunged at Vanecko and three of his friends and got punched.

"But in recent interviews, three of Koschman's four friends who were with him, along with a bystander the state's attorney's office described as one of two 'unbiased witnesses,' say they never told police the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman was running or lunging at the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko and his group when he got punched. They say he wasn't being physically aggressive, as police and prosecutors maintain. And, when detectives re-interviewed them in January, all four of Koschman's friends agreed to take lie-detector tests to prove they're telling the truth."

Either the witnesses are lying now or the police were lying then. Which do you suppose is most likely?

Aldermen Sent To War?
Kirk Defends Use Of Drone Attacks In Pakistan.

Tribune Co. Bankruptcy Deadlocked
Just give the company to Groupon and get it over with.

*

Seriously. Groupon's ownership would reunite the newspaper with the modern version of one of its old advertising staples. It's almost perfect - as long as an adult who understands journalism is put in charge.

*

The other legacy paper is also available. Be a hero, Groupon.

Lawsuit Pending?
"Sun-Times Chairman James Tyree was suffering from cancer and pneumonia, but his death was the accidental result of a routine medical procedure, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office," the Tribune reports.

Zzzzz
Someone's idea of a rollicking good time.

Test Rig Gig
"An insolvent medical testing company cut a deal with federal prosecutors Friday, agreeing to plead guilty to fraud charges for rigging physical exams that were given to more than 10,000 applicants to the Chicago Police and Fire departments," the Sun-Times reports.

Which explains how this guy got on the force.

*

No, seriously, this guy.

Must Have Been From Out Of Town
Hello? When you're gonna rig exams, you're supposed to do it for the favored not the fat.

Duty-Free?
Japanese Radiation Arrives at U.S. Airports.

Living The Dream
Sheen Adds 12 More Dates To His Live Tour.

*

Or his death tour. Farewell tour. Whatever, the jokes have all been made.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Dreamy.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

March 10th Mobilization for Justice
31042-March10thRally.jpg
Immigrants' rights groups rally and take it to the streets for the March 10th anniversary mobilization for immigrant justice.

Sunday, March 20 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 6 min

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Hip Hop, Honky Tonk, and the American Dream
31035-HonkyTonk-HipHop.jpg
Ethnomusicologist Stephanie Shonekan discusses the connections of two distinctive musical genres that can both trace their roots to the segregated South.

Sunday, March 20 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
48 min

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Sustainable Planning: Curitiba, Brazil and Chicago's Edgewater
31036-SustainableEdgewater.jpg
Spanish-Brazilian architect and urban planner Carmen Vidal-Hallett discusses her research project on the green mecca of Curitiba, Brazil, and how it inspired her to help create the award-winning Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project.

Sunday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
50 min

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Winning LGBTQ Equality in Russia
31034-LGBT-Equality-Russia.jpg
Noted Russian LGBT leader and founder of Moscow Pride Nikolai Alekseev speaks about the challenges and goals of organizing for LGBT equality in Russia.

Sunday, March 20 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 11 min

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. Banned in Illinois: These license plates.

2. Top 10 Airlines in the World: None of them are American.

3. "Charlie Sheen's unusual phrases are spurring a race to the U.S. Trademark office by entrepreneurs hoping to cash in," the ABA Journal notes.

For example, one nutritional supplement maker is apparently planning to market Adonis DNA.

4. "The indoor basketball court isn't the only thing Scottie Pippen left behind when he sold his 21-room Highland Park mansion in 1996," Highland Park Patch reports.

"The retired Chicago Bulls forward left rooms filled with furniture and art for the 13,000-square-foot home's new owners, in addition to t-shirts, basketballs and other Bulls memorabilia signed by players like Michael Jordan and Pippen himself.

"This weekend, Sheryl Rue-Borden hopes to sell all of it.

"'It's a big job, this is the biggest one I've ever done,' said Sheryl Rue-Borden, a Prudential Rubloff real estate agent who's organizing the estate sale at the 2320 Shady Lane property. 'I'm thinking of doing a map.'"

5. "54 Years Ago, the Chicago Code was 2-1-2."

6. How un-Shark-like of Joe Lopez. Or is it?

7. "The proposed sale of the Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer suffered another setback this week when the Goldwater Institute, a conservative watchdog, said it would file a suit to block the city of Glendale's plan to give Hulsizer $100 million to complete his $175million purchase," the Montreal Gazette reports.

8. "I resent the fact that people have to ask their government in writing for public information," Phil Kadner writes.

"Almost every document these days is stored in a computer.

"But if you want a copy of a school superintendent's contract, for example, you'll be asked to file a request in writing with school officials that includes your name and home address.

"That's not the law in Illinois. It doesn't require a written form to be filed unless the government entity is going to turn you down and you're going to have to file an appeal.

"The only real purpose for making people file in writing, in person or via e-mail is, as far as I can tell, intimidation."

9. "The coterie of officials at America's biggest racing event pulled a collective choke," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes.

10. The Week in WTF: From Pat Quinn to Harry Teinowitz's pot.

11. Newz From Da Hood: The Wild, Wild West Side of Chicago.

12. The Week in Chicago Rock: They played at a venue near you.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Wet, wild and woolly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Diplomats at the Congress on Thursday night.

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2. The Dirty Heads at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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3. The Coronas at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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4. Social Focus at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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5. Bright Eyes at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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6. This Century at House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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7. Elephant 6 at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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8. Void Pedal at the Abbey on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Hood Newz: The Wild, Wild West Side of Chicago

It was almost like I was one of them reporters in a hostile war zone, so I guess this kinda like a war report . . .

Shots fired, man down. Hood on fire!!! Police, ambulance, fire trucks, corners taped up and all.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: A Collective Choke

You wish the mare could talk.

Life At Ten would have told us herself she didn't want to run, but her lethargy before last November's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic was the only language she knows and the people around her weren't listening.

They probably just wanted the whole thing to go away, but the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission had to do something. After deciding that there was "probable cause" that jockey John Velazquez and Chief Steward John Veitch violated racing regulations, commissioners released their report and said they would investigate whether formal charges should be brought.

To recap, Velazquez told ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey twice in the pre-race warmups that Life At Ten, who ended up the second favorite in the wagering, did not feel herself, had little energy and didn't seem to want to run in the Ladies Classic, the nightcap on Breeders' Cup Friday and one of the most prestigious races for females in the world.

Race fans without the benefit of sound or captioning of the broadcast, wherever they may have been, would not have heard JV's revelations and fans at Churchill Downs most certainly did not know of LAT's troubles.

After the shock wore off, with four minutes before post, I was able to change my bets online. Lo and behold, Life At Ten didn't run a lick and Velazquez basically galloped her around the track.

An ESPN producer contacted the stewards to tell them what Velazquez told Bailey. While JV did not ask a veterinarian at the gate to check the mare, saying he thought it would have been useless because the vets would never scratch her, the common conception was that the vets had no idea Life At Ten may have been in distress.

But the report shows that the "rumors" were flying around the track amongst various on-track officials and that the vets were waiting for Velazquez to bring the horse to them. He didn't, so they didn't look at her. And the stewards never ordered the vets to look at the six-year-old.

Certainly, Velazquez does deserve blame for not consulting the vets. The gut feeling of a cinch Hall of Famer said something was wrong with the horse but Velazquez failed to act. The coterie of officials at America's biggest racing event pulled a collective choke job in not taking action, for the benefit of the horse. Whatever equine safety regulations were in place were not triggered, the tragedy of Barbaro and the death of a horse earlier in the day notwithstanding.

We are all lucky nothing happened to Life At Ten. Velazquez saved her life by not pushing her around the track. Certainly his thought process had to include the fact that Garrett Gomez had refused to ride a race a few weeks earlier after summoning a vet over concern with his mount. He was shot down and got off the horse and later said he lost some future mounts because of it.

But as usual, there are also twists to the LAT case.

* Breeders' Cup Friday was run on a day/night schedule to get the biggest races of the day into prime time for television, so the Ladies' Classic was run under Churchill's lights.

In a race earlier in the year at Hollywood Park, Life At Ten also ran a clunker under the lights. Trainer Todd Pletcher had to know that Life At Ten might not have liked running at night.

* It appears Pletcher is getting off the hook on this one. A man who is supposed to know how horses communicate said he knew LAT was not right in the paddock. It is not clear whether he told Velazquez to err on the side of caution if she didn't brighten up and then seek to get her scratched.

After the race, it was reported LAT was dehydrated and cramping and one veterinarian testified that it took days to get the horse back to normal. No testing was done on Life At Ten after the race to determine whether she had anything untoward in her system. Medical tests the next day revealed elevated white blood cell counts, elevated enzymes and a fever, according to the report. The horse was ill.

In a bizarre shot across the commission's bow, Pletcher pulled a Blagojevich and Bart Simpson all at once by issuing a strong statement absolving himself of responsibility, seeking to influence public opinion and shouting "I didn't do it" for all to hear. Pletcher's rant came just hours before the commission released its report.

Pletcher rightly blasted the commission for conducting its hearing behind closed doors. The KHRC fulfilled its promise to discuss the report in public by merely throwing the report on the table and running out the door.

* In a too-typical Kremlinesque manner, the commission strongly recommended that jockeys not be allowed to talk to the media before a race. ESPN analysts Randy Moss, Joe Tessitore, Jeanine Edwards in the paddock and especially Bailey, did a tremendous job of getting Velazquez on the air as Bailey obviously saw something amiss and did not skirt the issue.

Although ESPN did report that vets were going to look at the horse at the gate, that didn't happen.

With the Ladies' Classic being the last race of the day, ESPN really didn't have a lot of time to analyze the scandal. But their solid reporting day began with great coverage of the Castellano-Borel fistfight and ended by breaking a big story.

It's hard to imagine ESPN will be willing to give up being able to talk to the jockeys on the track before the races.

* While the report said that there was no evidence of "nefarious or fraudulent" activity related to the wagering on the race, I disagree that there were no wagering "irregularities."

I would call the fact that I was able to get my money off the horse while thousands of others could not irregular. When it came to Life At Ten and the money wagered on her, it was not a fair race.

* The Daily Racing Form once again disappointed in the form of editor Steve Crist's bland and disjointed combination of praise and derision for the commission and its report.

"(There was) nothing to suggest anyone knew or suspected anything was amiss with the filly in the days or hours leading up to the race," Crist wrote in the "bible" of horse racing.

Well, he's technically right. And that would seem to shoot down any conspiracy theories. But there were a lot of people who knew there was a problem in the minutes leading up to the race, and the system's failure to act put every horse and jockey in the race at risk.

Crist and The Form owe it to their readers and the industry to point out that while the report said just about everybody blew it, before and after the race, it also took a fairly benign stance on the case and also said the horse was good to go and, basically, it will never happen again. The Form pretty much took the same blase approach.

The commission's report is all well and good and does say some constructive things, but the point is that in the heat of one of the biggest days of racing in the world, a large contingent of supposedly top horse racing officials and personnel in the nation failed in a massive way to ensure the integrity and safety of a big race and the sport in general.

With all those people, not one of them could do the right thing?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Pat Quinn, WTF?

The one thing you can say about Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Doofus): Skilled politicians are always adept at open field camouflage, but Quinn is just not good enough at it to be effectively crooked.

That means that whenever he is tempted to evildoing, you're likely to see it.

Here's the operative sequence in this case: A way-too-easy connect-the-dots payoff to a voter-jettisoned legislator; a fat salary, a quid pro my tax increase; surviving legislators smell Quinn's large stinky feet; paid-off legislator withdraws because the way to confirmation is blocked; everybody says it was all coincidence.

The comic-relief saving grace of Quinn's Alphonse to Careen Gordon's Gaston is that, when faced with making an explanation, she pointed to the governor: Ask him. There's always room under the bus.

We have years ahead of more political Gilbert and Sullivan. WTF can hardly wait.

2. St. Patrick's Day, WTF?

WTF is Irish.

McGlone blood flows through us. Angry McGlone blood.

So listen, and listen clear.

WTF hates St. Patrick's Day, the green-faced minstrel show put on to make everyone think the Irish are light-hearted, wannabe leprechauns. The Irish aren't "Finian's Rainbow" and Lucky Charms. We remember how things were in Glocca Morra. We were starving while we fed the British. We came here in steerage. We washed your clothes and cooked your meals. We fought your wars. Most of Custer's 7th was us. Given the choice, we'd have taken Crazy Horse's side. Army potatoes sustained us when ours were taken.

Sorry. Real Irish are sad, angry and contused by history. Green beer? Don't be daft. We always drink whiskey alone, if you'd have the common decency to not bother us.

3. Stroger Hospital, WTF?

While it's obvious why hiring incompetent thugs as hospital police is by definition a patronage job - who else would hire them? - should you actually let a cardiologist at this hospital treat you?

Even incompetent jackboots need a place to work; what's the cardiologist's excuse?

4. Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, WTF?

For those of us WTFers who worked our entire lives but are fans of hoodwinking, this questions the wisdom of working for a living.

If it's actually this easy to steal, no need to actually work. It's a solid waste.

Sure, the guy who ran the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County got caught (apparently he got bored with being careful) but not before his employer failed to notice he spent $850,000 for "waste treatment management education." He just took the money, not the education. This expenditure only makes sense at the Todd Stroger School of Management.

Not to deride the value of solid waste management, but Skokie Mayor and Solid Waste Guy in Charge of Watching The Money George Van Dusen said, according to the Trib. "the agency has since changed internal procedures to guard against similar problems."

Changed procedures? From what to effing what?

For $850,000, you could send the entire Osmond Family to Harvard.

5. Harry Teinowitz, WTF?

WTF's official position has been that pot was not any more dangerous for a user than, let's say, Scotch or vodka. We're reconsidering.

We know that Scotch and vodka make you sloppy, discombobulated and inebriated but we don't think it makes you as stupendously stupid as ESPN radio personality Harry Teinowitz was on March 4.

We have never seen it reported that a DUI field sobriety test had to be suspended for fear the suspect was so stoned that he would injure himself if the procedure proceeded.

Plus, "Call the mayor of Skokie; don't you know who I am?" didn't work either.

ESPN is a Disney property. Even though Walt is dead, he still is not amused by pot exploits.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:59 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"A man who says he was beaten into confessing to a double murder by detectives under disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge was ordered released by a Cook County judge on Wednesday, the same day Burge reported to federal prison," the Tribune reports.

There isn't much justice in this world, but what little there is sure is sweet.

"Eric Caine, who was imprisoned for a quarter of a century after his arrest in 1986 for the murder of an elderly couple, is scheduled to be released from a state prison in southern Illinois on Thursday, said his attorney, Russell Ainsworth . . .

"Ainsworth said he was expecting that Judge William Hooks would hold an evidentiary hearing in the case Wednesday at the Criminal Courts Building. But to his surprise, the judge ordered Caine released after a special prosecutor appointed in several Burge cases moved to dismiss the charges against Caine. The special prosecutor, Stuart Nudelman, held he could not prove Caine's guilt without his confession, which had been tainted by the allegations of abuse against Burge and his detectives."

*

See also:
* Tribune: Freedom Eludes Inmate Who Got Life, Not Death: His co-defendant walked free, but an oversight kept Eric Caine from being considered for clemency (December 2003)

* Reader: Pure Torture (December 1999)

Worst Campus Ever
Just the fact that the University of Chicago needs this so badly is testament to how lame it is. It's college!

*

When suicide bombers die and go to meet their 72 virgins, they end up in a U of C lecture hall.

*

It looks a little like this.

Cable Crime
"A man who worked at a suburban Chicago hospital admits he took two rings from a dead woman's finger and pawned them to pay his cable bill," AP reports.

Frickin' Comcast.

City-State
"Chicagoland today has hugely more in common in every way with the megaregion of which it is a part than it does with the rest of Illinois," James Krohe Jr. writes in Illinois Times. "Attempting to govern it and Downstate under a single political system has arguably held each back from realizing a future appropriate to its needs. Chicagoland's economy is so large that the region could stand on its own as an independent city-state.

"The notion of redrawing state boundaries along more plausible economic, cultural and geographic lines is appealing. I have written, in different settings, that southern Illinois should be attached to its natural mother, Kentucky, while Metro East becomes officially a part of the St. Louis metro area, the northernmost parts of Illinois faces a proud future as the southernmost parts of a new Wisconsin, and Illinois's farming midsection is split between the Indiana and the Iowa that it resembles in so many ways."

Queen Bees
"Chicago-based mobile coupon startup SampleSaint, which allows coupons to be scanned through a checkout system on any mobile device, will be relocating to Cincinnati this spring, taking advantage of a $250,000 cash infusion from Southwest Ohio tech investor CincyTech," midVentures reports.

"Drawing SampleSaint to Cincinnati marks the second time a CincyTech investment has moved a Chicago tech company out to the Buckeye State - the first being $250,000 that pulled TurboBOTZ, creators of a digital retailing marketplace for buying/selling used video games, away from the Windy City."

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
"A Chicago man accidentally set fire to his house and a neighbor's after he set off a smoke bomb to scare off squirrels that got into his walls," All Headline News notes.

Police Chief Charade
"Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey acknowledged Wednesday that he would consider leaving Philadelphia to head the Chicago Police Department but was quick to emphasize that no such job offer had been made," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"His remarks followed more than a week of speculation in Chicago and Philadelphia media that he is in the running for the title of top cop in the Windy City.

"'Clearly, I'm torn,' said Ramsey, who added that Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel had approached him."

*

So like his predecessor, Emanuel is going around the system set up whereby the Police Board does the vetting and sends recommendations to the mayor and is just doing the search himself.

Not that I have any faith in the Police Board, but then let's not let it waste everybody's time.

*

Someone with an agenda is using Sneed to push John Timoney, but he would actually be the kind of heavyweight Chicago could use.

The Irish Rover
There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Jimmy McGurk who was scarred stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole who was drunk as a rule
And fighting Bill Tracey from Dover
And your man Mick McCann from the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover

Secret Government Is Corrupt Government
Tell it to the government.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Listening tour.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

Shane MacGowan and The Popes: The Irish Rover

Montreux Jazz Festival, July 15, 1995.

-

The Irish Rover
Traditional

On the fourth of July eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the sweet cove of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the grand city hall in New York
'Twas a wonderful craft, she was rigged fore-and-aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her.
She'd got several blasts, she'd twenty-seven masts
And we called her the Irish Rover.

We had one million bales of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stones
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,
We had four million barrels of bones.
We had five million hogs, we had six million dogs,
Seven million barrels of porter.
We had eight million bails of old nanny goats' tails,
In the hold of the Irish Rover.

There was awl Mickey Coote who played hard on his flute
When the ladies lined up for his set
He was tootin' with skill for each sparkling quadrille
Though the dancers were fluther'd and bet
With his sparse witty talk he was cock of the walk
As he rolled the dames under and over
They all knew at a glance when he took up his stance
And he sailed in the Irish Rover

There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Jimmy McGurk who was scarred stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole who was drunk as a rule
And fighting Bill Tracey from Dover
And your man Mick McCann from the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover

We had sailed seven years when the measles broke out
And the ship lost it's way in a fog.
And that whale of the crew was reduced down to two,
Just meself and the captain's old dog.
Then the ship struck a rock, oh Lord what a shock
The bulkhead was turned right over
Turned nine times around, and the poor dog was drowned
I'm the last of the Irish Rover

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

Open Government On The Line: Tell Your Governor

America's governors have been rolling back, over, and ignoring transparency laws as soon as they become inconvenient. It's time to tell them to stop.

Whether or not your governor has taken action against your right to know, if you support open government, now's the time to write your governor and let them know.

Sign the letter to let our governors know that we're watching.

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Music Credit:

Artist: Ergo Phizmiz
Track: "Their Law"

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Media Credit:

Kudos to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Standard Examiner, the Uptake, and TNReport for footage and photos.

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Comments welcome.

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This is Sunshine Week in America.

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See also:
* FOIA Reform Fading

* State Rep: Democracy Too Expensive For Illinois

* City to FOIA: Drop Dead

* EPA's Secret Chocolate Documents Revealed!

And:
* Progress Illinois: Illinois Has A Way To Go On Transparency

* MUST-READ: Shedding Light On Sunshine Week

* ProPublica: How Statutes Keep Information Secret

Plus:

* Wired: It's Sunshine Week, But Obama's Transparency Record Is Cloudy

* NPR: Has Obama Lived Up To His Pledge On Transparency?

* Fox Chicago News: Cancelled Award Ceremony Highlights Obama's Difficult Dance On Transparency

* AP: Agencies Struggling To Meet Obama's Order On FOIA

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Fishing in the cooling lake of a nuclear reactor just seems wrong, but apparently it's safe and the bass are biting.

2. You've gotta give state Republican Party leadership credit: They've consistently shown a sense of humor and cleverness in the last year or so that is absent from so many of their own elected officials - and from the state Democratic Party, chairman Michael Madigan. The GOP's latest is IllinoisMadness.com.

3. "A Wisconsin landlord who had the misfortune to rent to convicted murderer Steven Avery has no constitutional claim for damages to his property caused by investigators, according to a federal appeals court," the ABA Journal reports.

"The opinion by Judge Terrence Evans begins this way: 'A landlord is lucky when he rents a dwelling he owns to a tenant who turns out to be pretty good. When he rents to a tenant who turns out to be fairly bad, he's unlucky. And then there's a landlord like Roland Johnson who goes far beyond being merely unlucky. Johnson picked a doozy of a tenant - he rented to a fellow named Steven Avery.'"

4. "Diane Ravitch, the education historian and author, told hundreds of Chicago Teachers Union members Saturday they can't let the corporate reformers dismantle the education profession," Catalyst reports.

"In a speech that painted a dismal picture of the intensifying attacks against teachers in many states around the country but was also a call for teachers to remain united and engaged, Ravitch relayed an alarming account of recent and proposed measures to downsize teaching staffs and increase class sizes."

Said Ravitch: "I've wondered, given all the talk of school reform and seeing how it's playing out in the media and legislature, do we live in an age of national insanity or is it an age of national stupidity. All across the country, we have governors and legislatures and philanthropists telling us we must reform our schools at the same time they're cutting the education budget and refusing to raise taxes on the people who have money."

Ravitch was one of the prime forces behind George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind initiative, but she has since changed her mind and now crusades against the high-stakes testing and charter schools she once believed in.

5. Sweet Home Chicago: If Not Now, When?

6. "On the same day Gov. Pat Quinn signed an income tax increase into law, his budget chief approved double-digit pay raises for two people under his command," the Pantagraph reports.

*

How 'bout Quinn and his budget chief (David Vaught) make up the difference out of their own pockets. You know, shared sacrifice.

*

After all . . .

7. Blago vs. 10,000 dead. Discuss.

*

Next week on WLS: The tsunami will host a free-wheeling three hours. Will be joined by the earthquake for the last hour.

8. What To Do If You Get Towed By The City.

9. "The Chicago Police Department's accounts of a drunken Rush Street confrontation seven years ago involving Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko - a nephew of Mayor Daley and White House chief of staff William Daley - and its two resulting investigations into David Koschman's death fill 82 page," the Sun-Times reports.

"Yet the half-inch-thick series of police reports - recently released two months after a Chicago Sun-Times public records request - leaves gaps in recounting what witnesses say happened in the early-morning hours of April 25, 2004, a Sun-Times investigation has found.

"The police reports also attribute statements to friends of Koschman - and to a bystander described by prosecutors as one of the two 'unbiased witnesses' - that they say they didn't make or that distort what they told detectives."

10. Your Right To Know Is Too Expensive For Illinois.

11. Language Arts: Collective Bargaining.

12. The Cub Who's No. 1.

13. "It is amazing. He puts one of those permanent marker thick pens in his trach tube to hold the air in, and he can still belt out the blues."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Clear your throat.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Lil' Scotty: 'Give Him His Flowers While He Lives'

Clarence "Lil Scotty" Scott marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Rev. Jackson, and Rev. Sharpton; made buttons for Mayor Harold Washington, organized protests to try to save Old Maxwell Street, and evangelized on the sidewalks of Chicago for over 20 years.

He was born in South Carolina 66 years ago and became a civil right activist. Due to his activism, the Klan firebombed his home and he was burned over 90 percent of his body, leaving big scars which he still has today.

He later became a blues singer and sang all over the country, notably with Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Little Johnnie Taylor, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Johnny Copeland, Big Momma Thornton, Solomon Burke, and Jimmie Reed.

For several years now, Lil Scotty has been in ill health from problems of a brain hemorrhage and brain surgery. He has a trach tube in his throat to help him breathe but he can still sing.

"It is amazing. He puts one of those permanent marker thick pens in his trach tube to hold the air in, and he can still belt out the blues. I think of it as a miracle. It is an inspiration to us old folks and all disabled people," says Roosevelt University professor Steve Balkin.

His friends are doing a Blues Benefit to honor his birthday at the Water Hole Lounge, 1400 S. Western Ave, Chicago on Sunday, March 27, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

'Lil Scotty' and his Big Band, Killa Ray and Mz Peechez will perform. Lil Scotty will sing his latest tunes: "Hot Dog" and "She Put the Hoo Do on the Hoo Do Man." The MC will be The GODFATHER.

Guest stars will include Otis Clay, Ciscero Blake, Junk-Yard Dog, ZZ Hill Jr., Lil Bobby Reynolds, Shirley Johnson, Ramblin Rose, Sherman "Moody" Thomas, Saxx Preacher, Brother Shane, Mary Lane, Kid Dynamite, and many others.

Politicians expected to attend include state Rep. Connie Howard, congressman Danny Davis, state Sen. Donne Trotter, community activist Bill 'Doc" Walls, Minister 'D', Brother Webb Evans, and Lowreen.

A donation of $15 is requested.

"Give him his flowers while he lives," says close friend Queen Portia.

There will be free food.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

State Rep: Democracy Too Expensive For Illinois

Open government is under attack, at least according to open-government advocates.

At least one piece of legislation in the General Assembly would chip away at the state's recently rewritten Freedom of Information Act, while another would change the long-standing way governments announce how they're spending their money.

Senate Bill 2203 would give governmental bodies a longer period to respond to FOIA requests and allow them to charge more money to produce the requested documents. Currently governments in Illinois have five days to respond to request. The new legislation would double that. Also under the current law any petitioner can get the first 50 pages of a request for free, unless there is a statutory fee already in place. The new plan would eliminate that.

"It would be even, in our opinion, worse than the previous law was. We're opposed to it, and we'd like to see some major changes to it," Josh Sharp, director of governmental relations for the Illinois Press Association.

In addition to lobbying on behalf of the media, the IPA also advocates for open government.

State Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-Crystal Lake, is sponsoring the bill and said concerns about the cost of the FOIA to local taxing bodies is what triggered the legislation.

"There are many stakeholders. I would say it's not just local government, it's park districts, it's the school alliances. I think they were concerned about how they could meet many, of what they considered to be, mandates of the original legislation," she said.

The thinking goes that with government on all levels hurting for money, having employees take time to make copies and handle FOIA requests is a drain on resources.

Althoff said that the plan is to take the ideas in the legislation and combine them with the other FOIA changes into an omnibus bill. But good ideas can lose something in the transition to reality, Sharp said.

"You give local government an inch, they're going to take a mile in terms of dealing with document requests and secrecy issues and things like that," he said. "We really try to narrowly focus our exemptions so they're not abused."

The IPA and others also are critical of a measure that would change how taxing bodies make announcements about the use of public property or tax dollars. Those governmental entities currently have to buy advertisements in local publications.

House Bill 1869 would let those announcements be made on the Internet. Advertisements wouldn't stop running completely in newspapers. Under the measure, governments would have to let people know that the announcement was available on the Internet.

Opponents to the measure say governments are using the pretext of accessibility as a way to save money, while at the same time hurting open government.

Not so, said state Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, co-sponsor of the legislation.

Tryon used the example of his home county of McHenry. At least 92 percent of the residents there have access to the Internet, while at the same time only 25 percent subscribe to a newspaper, he said.

"It is about the cost, but it is also about getting information to people in the way that people want to receive information," Tryon said.

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NOTE: This is Sunshine Week in America.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Cub Who's No. 1

The ranks of relief pitchers are thinner than ever.

Everyone's least favorite fantasy baseball category features last year's American League Rookie of the Year - Neftali Feliz - who by all rights should get top billing, but Texas (and Feliz himself) may be intent on making Feliz a starter.

The good news is that he would earn the vaunted SP/RP classification, so you can slot him as an RP and get extra wins and strikeouts. But that also leaves the question of what to do about saves.

Among other problems in this category, Brad Lidge and Andrew Baiuly are injury-prone; the two Jonathans - Papelbon and Broxton - are increasingly unreliable; and Francisco Rodriguez is - still Francisco Rodriguez.

Into this mess rides a jug-eared, blue-capped hero. With a stellar second half last season, the Cubs' Carlos Marmol is unquestionably the best reliever fantasy money can buy.

Here's my full list (I'm not including Feliz, though Texas at last report was still undecided about his role):

1. Carlos Marmol, Cubs.

He could finish with 150 strikeouts and 45 saves - hopefully not the same number as Cubs' wins.

2. Joakim Soria, Kansas City.

The closest thing to a consistent closer this side of Mariano Rivera (see below).

3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees.

Still doing it well at 41, but the team's addition of Rafael Soriano suggests he could see a lighter workload this year.

4. Heath Bell, San Diego.

Consistent producer could ranker higher with a few more innings, strikeouts.

5. Brian Wilson, San Francisco.

The Beard may be due to be taken down a notch, but he's still got 40-save potential.

6. Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati.

Closing for a great, young team that should win many games is a plus for anyone.

7. John Axford, Milwaukee.

Up-and-comer proved he could close late last season.

8. Joe Nathan, Minnesota.

Coming back from major injury, but has looked good this spring.

9. Houston Street, Colorado.

Injury-prone, but potent when healthy and the Rockies will give him plenty of chances.

10. Jose Valverde, Detroit.

He's fading but in my book is less questionable than Francisco Rodriguez or Andrew Bailey, two guys who didn't make my top 10 because I just don't trust them.

Sleeper: Chris Sale, White Sox: His draft stock has fallen some with poor spring outings, but he'd make a nice late-round, long-term investment.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has the latest on Neftali Feliz's possible eligibility change. This whole thing has me thinking I need to do SP/RP rankings, too. Stay tuned.

* Bleacher Report has its list of top 30 outfielders. I don't get why Matt Holliday ranks so high in supposed 5x5 rankings when he has on single-digit stolen bases. A mystery for the ages.

* CBSSports.com offers some late-round sleepers, including the White Sox' very own Edwin Jackson. Being on the Don Cooper program will do that for you.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

Language Arts: Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining consists of negotiations between an employer and a group of employees so as to determine the conditions of employment. The result of collective bargaining procedures is a collective agreement. Employees are often represented in bargaining by a union or other labor organization. Collective bargaining is governed by federal and state statutory laws, administrative agency regulations, and judicial decisions. In areas where federal and state law overlap, state laws are preempted.

- Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School

Though the term collective bargaining was not officially coined until 1891 by the English economist and socialist reformer Beatrice Webb, its presence in the workplace dates back to the legalization of trade unions in 1886.

"In the United States, the formation of the American Labor Union in 1886 was the seminal event in the legalization of collective bargaining," according to the Business Dictionary.

In 1890, however, the Sherman Antitrust Act nearly reversed that.

"Its prohibition of the cartel was also interpreted to make illegal many labor union activities," Wikipedia notes. "This is because unions were characterized as cartels as well (cartels of laborers). This persisted until 1914, when the Clayton Act created exceptions for certain union activities."

The right to collectively bargain was further solidified with the 1926 Railway Labor Act, which, according to the Business Dictionary, required employers to bargain with unions.

The result of such bargaining, of course, is a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It is the expiration of just such an agreement that has led NFL owners to lock out their employees - the players.

The players have also voted to "decertify" their union - a strategic move that allowed them to suspend negotiations and move their dispute into the courts.

The NFL in turn filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board to block decertification in order to force the players back to table for further negotiations. In other words, the owners of the NFL would prefer collective bargaining to the courts. The players, on the other hand, say the NFL isn't collective bargaining in good faith.

(Even Donald Trump said this week that "collective bargaining doesn't bother me so much.")

*

The dispute over collective bargaining in Wisconsin is also heading to the courts. Perhaps NFL players will come to the aid of Wisconsin's workers.

Certainly some units of local government are on the side of their employees, not that of Gov. Scott Walker.

"Walker claims the anti-union provisions are necessary to balance the state budget without tax increases," Matt Pommer writes in the Superior Telegram. "He contends giving broad powers to local officials, such as allowing school boards to have total control over the hiring and firing process will help them balance services with limited revenues.

"Alas, none of the organizations representing local governments and school boards in Wisconsin had requested the revolution that Walker, in a Wall Street Journal column, called a 'bold political move.' The employer groups had sought changes in collective bargaining, not the Walker changes."

In other words, local governments and school boards wanted more flexibility in their dealings with public-sector unions but they never expressed a desire to wipe them out. Collective bargaining can work to the advantage of employers, too.

Consider:

The ultimate goal of the collective bargaining process is to come to an agreement that specifically lays out employees' wages, hours, promotions, benefits, and numerous other employment clauses and certitudes. And, in response to such specifications, given that challenges are bound to arise, the collective bargaining agreement is also set up to handle disputes that arise as a result.

It is an often tedious process, but one with a clearly defined road map that instantly secures provisions for all employees at once for a period of years.

That's why it's called collective and bargaining. Collective meaning we have been empowered by our members - as is their right - to negotiate on behalf of all employees at once to make it easy (and fair) for everyone. Bargaining because this is a negotiation by which each side will make concessions. We will strike a bargain.

What's so wrong with that?

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Previously in Language Arts:
* Pushback.

* Locavore.

* Going Rogue.

* Rebalancing.

* Poor.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:32 AM | Permalink

March 15, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

I have to say The Chicago Code is actually getting good. Shawn Ryan's plot lines are developing in a nice, complex way - and so, finally, are the characters. The cheesy dialogue so prevalent at first is disappearing. The show is hitting its stride.

But the best moment of last night's episode was one Ryan should have reconsidered: We finally learned the name of the mayor and it's McGuinness. As in Mayor McGuinness.

Now, for all I know, it's McGinnis. But I'm gonna stick with McGuinness. (A commenter here says the name comes from one of Ryan's childhood friends.)

Code watchers at the Beachwood Inn last night imagined a meeting between Mayor McGuinness and Mayor McCheese - perhaps to work out a trade agreement. We wondered if McGuinness would hold a summit at McManny's or the Billy McGoat. We recalled Wifey McBeaty's.

Good times.

So a toast to Mayor McGuinness. May we one day see your face.

Living The Dream
"Kacey Jordan, the porn star whom Charlie Sheen paid $30,000 to party with during his now notorious weekend bender in January, was hospitalized Monday night in Chicago after an alleged suicide attempt," E! reports.

The incident happened at the Peninsula.

Porn Star
"Employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission caught in a porn scandal were on huge six-figure salaries, it has emerged today," the Daily Mail reports.

"Seventeen of the workers were earning between $99,356 and $222,000 a year.

"They were among 33 investigated for downloading pornography on their SEC computers at seven offices around the country . . . The men worked in Denver, Atlanta, Boston; Chicago, Fort Worth, Texas, Los Angeles and Washington."

Hot Dog Report
Harmons's Ol' Chicago brings Chicago-style dogs to Holden, Missouri.

Wheel Watcher
"Jason Anderson, of Bourbonnais, will be a contestant on Wednesday's Wheel of Fortune television show airing at 6:30 p.m. on ABC Channel 7 in Chicago," the Kankakee Daily-Journal reports.

*

When tryouts came to Minneapolis for Wheel in my junior year at the University of Minnesota, a bunch of us went and two of my friends got on. I went out to LA with them to watch the taping. Bob Ryan will never forget not nailing "Seventh Heaven" in the showcase! Still, we got a lot of parting gifts for the house; a year's supply of this, a year's supply of that.

My favorite moment, though, was when Pat Sajak asked our buddy Chris what one does with a geography degree, which he was pursuing at the time. "Make maps, I guess," Chris said. Classic.

*

He later switched to business.

Shovel Ready
"The Chicago area followed close behind battered Sun Belt metro areas in numbers of lost construction jobs in the downturn, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Associated General Contractors of America," the Tribune reports.

"Chicago-Joliet-Naperville region lost 33 percent of its construction jobs, or 52,100 positions, between January of 2007 and this January, the sixth-greatest loss among metro areas, according to the group's analysis of government data."

Search Results
"The latest results from the Tevatron collider at Fermilab near Chicago suggest that the Higgs boson is on the light side - which means that it could be harder to detect than a heavier particle," Physics World reports.

"Predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs, if discovered, would provide an explanation for how elementary particles acquire mass."

*

Fermilab scientists also report that discovering who hired Angelo Torres is proving harder than expected. If discovered, the hiring of Angelo Torres would provide an explanation for how the Hired Truck program came to be.

Groupon Remorse
There's an app for that.

Cheeseburgers in Paradise
But no longer in Des Plaines.

Subway vs. McDonald's
Compare and contrast.

Genre Bending
TV Wives To Come.

Root Causes
Cops: Spend Money On Schools, Not Jails.

The Ball Is Round
Our guide to the NCAA tournament.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Round ball.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:14 AM | Permalink

Cops: Spend On Schools, Not Jails

Illinois law enforcement leaders say the best way to fight crime is by investing money into classrooms to prevent at-risk and low-income children from becoming future troublemakers.

Illinois law enforcement leaders are urging state lawmakers to "make good on promised payments" delayed to preschool programs. They also asked to restore $38 million previously cut from the Early Childhood Block Grant in next year's state budget. The grant helps fund preschool education for at risk and low-income children, which police said helps keep kids from getting involved in crime.

Granite City Police Chief Richard Miller said those children need guidance at a young age.

"The end result saves society money, because we are not locking them up as police chiefs; they become successful," Miller said.

Miller was lucky, even though he grew up as an "at-risk" child.

"My mother and father were there for me," Miller said. "[B]ut to be in public housing and to grow up on a lower income side of town - there is no doubt that my education values, and learning how to learn and things to do - came from that. I grew up with kids that now are dead or in prison."

As members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, a nonprofit anti-crime organization, Illinois law enforcement leaders noted the state can save up to $400 million a year by reducing the need for special education and for failing grades.

Ogle County State's Attorney Ben Roe said preschool helps children to develop skills they need to succeed in school and in life.

"In Illinois, many children start school already behind their classmates in early math and reading skills," Roe said. "Many have not mastered the social skills they need to follow teachers' directions and establish good friendships in schools. These problems can lead to a pattern of failure that lasts a lifetime."

Special education costs can be reduced if children with developmental delays and behavioral problems have access to preschool, said Algonquin Police Chief Russ Laine.

"In Illinois, we currently spend over $2 billion on special education, and only $304 million on preschool programs," Laine said. "By investing more in preschool, we can achieve real savings in special education, as well in other education areas, such as reducing the number of children who need to repeat grades."

Funding for the grant will be restored to fiscal year 2009 levels at $380 million in fiscal year 2012, said Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for Governor's Office of Management and Budget. However, the final state budget will need lawmakers' approval.

"Governor Quinn is a staunch advocate of early childhood education, and he feels that it is vital in preparing children for a lifetime of learning and development," Kraft said.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

The Ball Is Round: Your Beachwood Bracket Packet

I wonder if some people on the committee know whether the ball is round.
- Jay Bilas

I have to agree. This is by far one of the weirdest brackets I have ever seen.

* Colorado beat Kansas State three times, and beat Missouri and Texas; each is in the tournament. Colorado isn't. Yes they lost some bad ones, but they did muster a 21-13 record (8-8 in Big 12 play). Meanwhile, USC got in with a record of 19-14 (10-8), which has NIT written all over it.

* UAB (22-8, 12-4 in the mighty Conference USA) and VCU (23-11, 12-6 - good for fourth place in the Colonial Athletic Association) made it and Alabama (21-11, 12-4 in the SEC) didn't.

* Florida is a two seed (overrated). Texas is a four seed (underrated).

* The Big 12 only gets in five teams while the Big East brings 11 of its 16 teams.

* The East Regional is totally overloaded.

All of which makes me wonder what was going on behind the scenes with the selection committee, as none of the above makes any sense.

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When determining your bracket, conventional wisdom dictates that you should take a few factors into play:

* Location: This is often overlooked in bracket pools but in the first two rounds it really helps to play closer to home. A lot of the brackets available don't show the locations for the first two rounds; a PDF from ESPN that does is available here. Duke is a No. 1 seed and playing in Charlotte for their opening pod, and assuming they survive, they (along with all of their fans) will have to travel all the way to Anaheim. Like in any sport, the more fans you have making noise really can contribute as an extra player.

* 12/5: This used to be a fluke but it seems the selection committee took notice and really started setting up teams to fail in this regard. Every year there is at least one, if not two, No. 12s that will beat No. 5s. I remember looking at the 12/5 matchups for potential upsets as far back as 2002 and I will continue to do so until this stops trending.

* Recent performance: Teams peak at certain times, and the ones that are winning in February and early March must be taken into consideration. The best example of this is UConn. They lost nine games on the season but thanks mostly to Kemba Walker, they won five games in five days to win the Big East Conference Tournament. Momentum is a force to be reckoned with.

When in doubt, make a selection with your gut feeling and hope for the best; luck is a major factor in the more successful brackets. The odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 35,360,000,000. But remember, selecting your school to go too far is the easiest way to lose your bracket.

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EAST

George Mason (8) could give Villanova (9) problems here. I don't see WVU (5) losing to the winner of the UAB/Clemson (12) play-in game. Kentucky (4) fans are upset and are looking at a very difficult four seed. I think everyone will be surprised if Ohio State (1) fails to reach the Final Four.

Marquette (11) could go deep. They've lost three games in March, and are playing Xavier (6) (located in Ohio) in Cleveland, which goes against two of the conventional wisdoms posted above, but they played in the toughest conference by far: the Big East. Marquette won at UConn. They swept WVU, and beat Notre Dame and Syracuse. Xavier plays in the Atlantic 10. Enough said.

The wildcard in this bracket is North Carolina (2). They had a slow start to the season until Roy Williams replaced junior point guard Larry Drew II with freshman Kendall Marshall (Drew later transferred out). They got back into the rankings and even beat arch-rival Duke at the end of the season. In the ACC tournament they needed a miracle comeback to beat Miami and another big comeback to beat Clemson, only to get beaten handily by Duke. Which UNC team decides to show up and play in the tournament is an unknown. They are playing in Charlotte the first two games, however.

Upset Alert: Marquette over Xavier. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Marquette defeating UNC in the Elite Eight. Not saying that will happen but would not be surprised at all.

WEST

Duke (1), as previously mentioned, is playing in Charlotte, and I don't see how they don't make it to at least the Sweet Sixteen. Look for a potential barn-burner against Texas (4) in the Sweet Sixteen; one of the better match-ups in that round if it does in fact happen.

Memphis (12) could beat Arizona (5) here. Arizona is good, but wait until next year, they will be much better.

UConn (3) has the best basketball player in the nation right now in Kemba Walker and although Bucknell (14) had it's greatest win of all time in 2005 over Kansas, I don't see them pulling off another miracle here. Enjoy the first 10 minutes of this game, Bucknell fans. UConn could go to the Final Four if they continue to ride the momentum.

If Missouri (11) advances I could see some revenge and a possible upset. Just two years ago UConn defeated MU in a close one to deny them their first ever Final Four appearance. This would be an interesting match-up provided MU makes it into the second round.

Missouri lost only once at home (to Kansas on the last game of the season) and in overtime on the road in nearby KC. They went 1-1 in KC in the Big 12 Tournament. They are a much different team when playing outside of Columbia, but are far better than an 11 seed.

San Diego State (2) plays in the Mountain West, not a tough conference. Their non-conference schedule did not impress me much either. They lost twice to BYU, then defeated them after Brandon Davies was suspended for honor code violations at the Mormon school. Sweet Sixteen easily, but I don't see how they could get to the Elite Eight without UConn getting upset.

You could easily have Duke, Texas, or UConn in the Final Four here and I don't see how anyone would be surprised.

Upset Alert: Missouri (11) over Cincinnati (6); Memphis (12) over Arizona (5). Either of these could happen.

SOUTHWEST

I'm not sure how Illinois (9) reached that high of a seed, or even got into the tournament. At some point you have to start wondering when Bruce Weber is on the hot seat. His best years at U of I were with Bill Self's players. Their signature win was against UNC when that team was having some problems at the start of the season. This is a team that put up only 49 points at Indiana, 55 points at Penn St., and 54 at Illinois-Chicago (all losses).

They did win on the road at Gonzaga but also went 9-10 overall against the Big Ten. Eight and nine seed match-ups can be tricky, but I'm going with UNLV (9) over Illinois in the first round, which won't matter much because either will lose to Kansas in the second round.

I like Vanderbilt (5) over Richmond (12). I have to question Louisville (4) being seeded that low, I would consider them a three seed. Coming out of the Big Ten, Purdue (3) should have been a four or five.

A very probable match-up I would like to see is Texas A&M (7) against Notre Dame (2). TAMU must first get past FSU in the first round, and if they do like I expect, I could see them getting to the Sweet Sixteen here. Notre Dame is playing in Chicago so they will have the crowd behind them.

I like Kansas in the Final Four here (Disclaimer: I lived in Lawrence for nearly 30 years before moving to Chicago). But don't take just my word for it; a lot of people are taking Kansas in the FF here. Kansas has the easiest bracket, so anything less would be a huge disappointment for KU.

Note: Yes . . . Bucknell, Bradley and Northern Iowa all did happen in previous years. They also won the entire tournament in 2008 and Bill Self is one of the better coaches fielding one of the better teams.

I would love to see Georgetown (6) vs. Purdue (3) in the second round. I could see Georgetown winning there. In the Elite Eight you could have Kansas playing against either Georgetown (Big East), Purdue (Big Ten), Texas A&M (Big 12), or Notre Dame (Big 12). I think the safe bet would be KU/Notre Dame, but I'm choosing KU vs Texas A&M in my bracket.

Upset Alert: Florida St (10) looks scary for Texas A&M (7) in the first round. As stated, A&M in the Elite Eight is very possible. But I wouldn't be surprised to see FSU win one here either.

SOUTHEAST

I don't see how Utah State (12) drew a twelve seed, considering their RPI is 15th in the nation. Kansas State got a really bad draw, though they should be happy they turned it around completely in February to even get here. Utah State is in the WAC, didn't beat anyone huge, but they won consistently and you never know with K-State.

BYU (3) has one of the better shooters in the nation. The kid can play. Problem is, you need four others around you and it doesn't help when one of those starters got suspended indefinitely for violating the school's honor code. That hurts; they lost the next game after the suspension. They also won others but this is in the Mountain West; in a BCS conference with their current eligible players they would have lost more than twice as many games. New Mexico swept them.

I don't see how Pitt doesn't make it to the Final Four outside of losing to St. John's. Wisconsin (4) makes it to the Sweet Sixteen if they can get past Belmont (then loses to Pitt). I see St. John's (6) in the Elite Eight losing to Pitt. St. John's started off shaky and they have 11 losses, but again, they are in a brutal conference. They defeated four teams that were ranked in the Top Ten in the polls. Some may even choose them in the Final Four and I wouldn't laugh at them. They beat Duke (a No.1 seed) 93-78 but later lost to Seton Hall. Their coach is Steve Lavin. This team could go deep.

Michigan State (10) and UCLA (7) will be a close one. Many are questioning MSU getting in with a 19-14 record but don't count out Tom Izzo - he knows how to coach in the tournament.

Florida (2) is overrated for their seeding. I could see UCLA or MSU beating them in the second round. I could also see Florida beating either one of them. Take note that these teams will be playing in Tampa. That is a long way from LA and Michigan for fans to travel.

Upset Alert: Utah State (12) over Kansas State (5). A lot of people are looking at Belmont (13) over Wisconsin (4) here but I don't see it. St. John's vs anyone.

FINAL FOUR

Ohio State (1) over UConn (3): Buckeyes too much for Huskies.

Kansas (1) over Pitt (1): If the Morris twins keep themselves in line on and off the court

CHAMPIONSHIP

Kansas over Ohio State: OSU is the overall No. 1 seed. Ohio State seems to be the most popular pick, but analysts are picking Kansas as well, and so am I.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

TV Wives To Come

Sister Wives, Army Wives, Rock Star Wives, Basketball Wives, geez, what's next?

Glad you asked.

* Ghost Payroller Wives: Watch tensions develop at home when the men of this series never go to work.

* Aldermen Wives: One of them is wearing a wire!

* Cubs Wives: Watch as it slowly dawns on some of the wives that their husbands play day games and couldn't possibly have been "out at the ballpark doing my job, honey" every night this week.

* Groupon Wives: Rumored to be a trial run for Dr. Drew's Celebrity Couponing Rehab.

* Office Wives: They don't put out either!

* The Wives of Streets and Sanitation: Tensions flare when their husbands keep trying to pass off used lawn chairs as new furniture for the den.

* Larry King's Wives: Potential for a long run.

* Wives of the NFL: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees get locked out of their respective houses until direct deposits start coming in again.

* White Sox Wives: Hijinks ensue when Ozzie and Oney Guillen meddle in the marriages of players, coaches and management.

* Tribune Wives: Bored out of their minds, the wives conduct a series of illicit affairs with bankers they find infinitely more exciting.

* Pizza Delivery Wives: Sex in 30 minutes or less.

* Firemen Wives: Going down poles, laying some hose, lots of leftover chili.

* Oprah's Wives: Follow a gaggle of women hired to act as beards for Gayle King.

* Madigan's Wives: Featuring Democrats of the Illinois House who cater to their leader's every whim even as he treats them like dirt.

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Comments welcome.

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- Scott Buckner, Nick Shreders, Rick Kaempfer, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:13 AM | Permalink

Subway vs. McDonald's

Subway Tops McDonald's As Largest Restaurant Operation.

Compare and contrast.

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Subway: There's one near you.
McDonald's: Goes right through you

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McDonald's: Had company mascot named Speedee.
Subway: Company mascot now fits in Speedos.

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McDonald's: Fries don't degrade.
Subway: No fries. Chips.

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Subway: Food made by hand.
McDonald's: Food made by chemists.

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McDonald's: Has Quarter Pounders.
Subway: What, like it would kill them to put more than a quarter's worth of roast beef on their sandwiches?

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Subway: Named after an underground tunnel.
McDonald's: Sometimes eaten by homeless people living in underground tunnels.

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McDonald's: Once owned by the Krocs.
Subway: Cold cut combo is a crock.

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McDonald's: Supersize it!
Subway: More lettuce!

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McDonald's: Has its own university.
Subway: Staffed by university students.

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McDonald's: Had drive-in service during the 1950s.
Subway: Might have drive-thrus by the 2050s.

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Subway: Bakes bread daily.
McDonald's: Low-paid employees complain daily.

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Subway: Competes with Jimmy John's.
McDonald's: Sometimes cleans their johns.

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Subway: Named after a mode of public transportation
McDonalds: Tastes like it was prepared on the floor of a mode of public transportation

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Subway: Nine-grain bread contains more high fructose corn syrup than grain.
McDonalds: McNugget contains at least nine ingredients the average person can't spell.

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McDonald's: Periodic McRib offerings.
Subway: Periodic salmonella offerings.

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Subway: Jared Fogel goes on Subway-only diet, loses 245 pounds
McDonald's: Morgan Spurlock goes on McDonald's-only diet, almost dies

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Subway: Five-dollar footlong.
McDonald's: Five-dollar McNuggets made out of chicken feet.

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Subway: Creepy mascot was once a fatty.
McDonald's: Creepy mascot caught smoking fatties.

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Comments welcome.

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- Rick Kaempfer, Tim Willette, Scott Buckner, Nick Shreders, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:57 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"In 2006, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he would give poor teens eight-week summer jobs on community service and highway beautification projects," AP reports. "Thousands of youths, he said, got the state-subsidized posts over the next three years.

"But ever since, state officials have refused to say who those young people were, so there's no way to verify the government claims. State officials can't account for all of the participants. And they say they have no documents for the program before 2008.

"Now federal prosecutors also are asking questions about Blagojevich's 'Summer Youth Works' initiative."

Unintended Consolidation Consequences
"Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to merge Illinois school districts would trigger a sudden increase in teacher salaries that could reduce or even erase any administrative savings, according to labor and education experts," AP reports.

"That's because when two districts consolidate in Illinois, teachers in the lower-paying district are allowed to switch to the higher pay offered by the other."

Secret Judiciary
"Performance evaluations have become mandatory for Illinois judges, by order of the state Supreme Court," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

"The evaluations are designed to help judges become aware of potential performance problems and remedy them. The results won't be made public."

*

As long as judges are elected officials, voters are entitled to see their official performance reviews.

Secret Police
"Unanswered Questions In Homicide Case Involving Daley Nephew."

Burge and Bernie
"Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge is expected to report to prison this week and when he does, he'll be serving his time at a prison complex that houses one of the most notorious white-collar offenders in history - Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff," the Sun-Times reports.

*

There's a punchline there somewhere, but I haven't yet located it.

Stop Freaking Me Out, Man
"In an after-school Pi event at Walter Payton High School, students will throw hot dogs on a floor marked with evenly spaced parallel lines," the Tribune reports. "Why? Because the proportion of hot dogs that cross the lines when they fall works out to be approximately 1 over Pi, said Payton mathematics chair Paul Karafiol."

Starting To Change My Mind About Using Violence As A Means Of Expression And A Tool To Bring About Social Change
"More than four out of ten American millionaires say they do not feel rich," Reuters reports. "Indeed many would need to have at least $7.5 million in order to feel they were truly rich, according to a Fidelity Investments survey."

RedEye Is Onto Us
Best quote/observation goes to our pal Tom Lashinski.

*

Which is my cue to remind everyone that I'll be back behind the bar again tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Bring your mustache.

Replacing Charlie Sheen
Chicago-style.

What They Gave Up For Lent
Chicago-style.

The Weekend In Rock
Chicago-style.

Head Cases
Chicago-style.

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Chicago Bike Polo

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The Beachwood Tip Line: It's on.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Get Up Kids at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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2. Teengirl Fantasy at the Riv on Saturday night.

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3. Middle Brother at the Metro on Saturday night.

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4. The Peacocks at Reggie's on Saturday night.

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5. OMD at Park West on Saturday night.

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6. Suns at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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7. Crystal Castles at the Riv on Saturday night.

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8. Bailiff at the Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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9. Elephant Stone at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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10. Diplo at The Mid on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Head Cases

The Blackhawks blew last week's road trip in the first period of their first game.

Sure, they rallied and actually earned a couple of impressive points in Tampa on Wednesday and Washington on Sunday, but the 3-2 setback against a bad Florida Panther team ("Florida Panthers Stun Streaking Blackhawks," the Miami Herald blared) last Tuesday in the first of three games out East set the tone. And that game was lost when the Hawks just didn't show up early on, allowing all three Panther goals before the first intermission. A missed opportunity for what should have been an easy win.

The road trip's bad vibe grew worse in the following game against Tampa when Dave Bolland, who does so much of the dirty work (checking opposing stars, goading guys into penalties) for this team when he isn't busy making slick plays to generate offense and winning a tone of face-offs, found himself on the wrong end of a brutal cheap shot to the head from opposing forward Pavel Kubina that sent him to the bench. He was still sidelined as of Sunday and there was no timeline for his return.

If I'm Bolland, I'm sitting out the rest of the season. Remember what happened to Sid Crosby earlier this year when the Penguins unconscionably allowed him to return too quickly from a first concussion? Months later the league's biggest star by far still hasn't recovered from the second concussion that he suffered during his first game back.

(See also: Bob Probert's Broken Brain.)

The NHL claims that it is determined to make players face grave consequences for shots to the head in an effort to - if not rid the league of those sorts of hits - at least significantly reduce their frequency. But the league only mustered a three-game suspension for Kubina.

So Dave, we all know that the only way to make absolutely sure you are completely recovered from this concussion is to shut it down until next year. There are still plenty of questions regarding how quickly guys can return from initial concussions but one thing that is perfectly clear is that if a second concussion follows too closely on the heels of the first, the chances for long-term damage increase substantially.

As for the rest of the Hawks, they rallied from a 3-1 second-period deficit to force overtime against the Lightning before eventually losing in a shootout and then fell to the Capitals in overtime after tying the game in its final minute.

With 11 games left on their regular-season schedule, the Hawks hold the seventh spot in the Western Conference; their 82 points place them two overtime-loss points ahead of ninth-place Nashville, which if the season ended today, would be the first team on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.

The champs, who also stopped by the White House on Friday for a little ceremony to celebrate their Stanley Cup, have a huge game tonight at home against the San Jose Sharks. If they can win it, they will be right back on track for a spot in the middle of the Western Conference playoff pack. Lose it and things start getting a little dicey.

Bulls Crap
Can we stop with the yammering about multiple future championships? First, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf weighed in last week with his assessment of the Bulls' future, opining that this team could very well win "at least four championships."

Then on Saturday evening, Michael Jordan told fans "don't be surprised if you have six more coming."

Can we just get one first and go from there?

Don't get me wrong, I am as excited as anyone about Derrick Rose's MVP season, the development in particular off supporting players Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, and a fast-rising bench led by guards C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. This team has tons of potential.

But are people really convinced that this group has more potential for multiple championships than the Heat?

And even if the Bulls do finish atop the conference and make a run at a title, Boston and Miami will be waiting, not to mention the Finals-bound Lakers.

Even if the Bulls somehow eke out a championship this year, they will have stronger future rivals than the 1990s Bulls ever did, starting with the Heat but also probably including the New York/New Jersey teams that have begun collecting high-priced free agents and won't stop until they've put together their own All-Star-laden dream teams.

This kind of talk is never productive - and rarely on-the-money. After all, we're still waiting for that White Sox dynasty to repeat. And did someone mention the Bears?

Viva Castro
I tuned into the North Siders' spring training game against the Dodgers on Sunday just in time to see Stalin Castro hit a seeing-eye ground ball/low line drive back through the middle for a base hit that he then stretched into a hustle double. It was Castro's third hit of the game and it drove in the tying run from third with two outs. It was just the sort of at-bat you wanted to see - a guy taking it easy in an RBI situation and just trying to put the ball in play to knock in a run.

Just the day before, Castro hit two home runs and drove in four against the Reds.

Castro has had some difficulties in the field this spring and Cub fans will probably end up having to put up with a few more errors than average from this guy for at least another couple years. But what a prospect he continues to be.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

Replacing Charlie Sheen, Chicago-Style

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Richard M. Daley: Two and a Half Whiners.

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Oprah: Two and a Half Women.

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Todd Stroger: Two and a Half Brain Cells.

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Pat Quinn: Two and a Half New Taxes.

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Blago: Two and a Half Cellmates.

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Billy Dec: Two and a Half Douchebags.

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Rahm Emanuel: Two and a Half Middle-Fingers.

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Barack Obama: Two and a Half Years of Disappointment.

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Ozzie Guillen: Two and a Half Excuses.

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Carlos Zambrano: Two and a Half Valium.

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Billy Corgan: Two and a Half Singing Lessons.

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Harry Teinowitz: Two and a Half Doobies.

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Duncan Keith: Two and a Half Teeth.

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Jay Cutler: Two and a Half Quarters.

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- Scott Buckner, Rick Kaempfer, Tim Willette, Steve Rhodes

*

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:58 AM | Permalink

What They Gave Up For Lent

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Rahm Emanuel: Swearing. At his children. After midnight. On weekdays.

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Richard M. Daley: Trying to understand the meaning of irony.

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Terry Mazany: Telling the truth.

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Todd Stroger: Any remaining shred of dignity.

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Pat Quinn: Ordering books from Amazon.

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Gery Chico: Crank calls to Rahm asking if he's "home."

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Blago: What's left of his mind.

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Cubs fans: False hope.

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Barack Obama: False hope.

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Ed Burke: The fight.

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Pete Wentz: Ashlee Simpson.

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Jeff Tweedy: Integrity.

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Cardinal George: Democracy.

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- Nick Shreders, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:04 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

The devastating earthquake and tsunami has made us ponder some of the fundamental questions of our existence. While our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this natural disaster, we offer a few moments of reflection on the week's other big stories.

Would You Rather . . . ?

* Be stranded at Disneyland or at a CPS high school?

* Get run down by a fire truck or run out on a rail?

* Face an NFL lockout or a UFL comeback?

* Cool a hot rod or see one put on ice?

* Be governor of Wisconsin or governor of Illinois?

* Eject a dictator or elect one?

* Be toothless or impotent?

* Be an ex-solid or full of hot air?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Cool your jets.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

On public access channels near you.

Smart Phones and Dumb Laws: Will Your Cell Phone Make You a Criminal?
31028-SmartPhonesDumbLaws02.jpg
Chris Drew and Gregory Koger, both arrested for recording public acts of political protest, are joined by their lawyers to discuss the steps being taken to counteract the growing ability of the public to document police misconduct, political acts, and newsworthy events.

Sunday, March 13 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 40 min

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2011 Illinois Family Impact Seminar: Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Keynote Speech
31030-FamilyImpact-Kathy-Hirsh-Pasek.jpg
Author and childhood development specialist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek discusses how providing classroom time for engaging, playful learning helps children become life-long learners.

Sunday, March 13 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21

Click here to watch video online

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2011 Illinois Family Impact Seminar: Experts Panel
31030-FamilyImpact-SueSokolinski.jpg
Elementary school teacher Dr. Sue Sokolinski joins Illinois State Board of Education members Pat Chamberlain and Kay Henderson on a panel examining the importance of play in early childhood development.

Sunday, March 13 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
40 min

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The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination
31031-MedeivalHaggadah.jpg
Dr. Marc Michael Epstein shares images from the medieval Haggadah, texts that tell of the exodus from Egypt and outline the practices of Seder.

Sunday, March 13 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 11 min

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Stop the Attacks on Mental Health Clinics
31032-StopAttackonMentalHealth.jpg
A coalition of community groups and mental health advocates hold a press conference to demand that secure public mental health is on the new mayor's agenda.

Sunday, March 13 at 3 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:38 AM | Permalink

March 11, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. Illinois' (alleged) packaged ice conspiracy.

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"The scam worked, the state suggested, because ice is the ultimate commodity - frozen water - sold in practically identical 7- and 22-pounds bags for such a low price that no one cared about brand names or noticed the lack of real competition. Uniformity, the state said, made it easy to swap customers and monitor pricing."

2. "Charlie Sheen LIVE: My Violent Torpedo Of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option Tour" stops at the Chicago Theatre on April 3rd. Tickets available here.

3. Quinn Back To Normal: Part One.

4. Quinn Back To Normal: Part Two.

5. "Sometimes you look up at a flagpole and see Old Glory waving in a stiff breeze and that female aide in your office smiles, and the next thing you know, you're getting your patriotism on," John Kass writes. "Newt? Is that the Constitution in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

6. "The [Millbury, Ohio] Press has confirmed that its website poll has been hacked by someone seeking to control the voting results.

"The Press has determined the IP address of the person or entity involved, and it is from Woodstock, Illinois, just outside Chicago, according to The Press' website provider. The situation happened from 3:55 p.m. until 4:20 p.m. on March. 8. During this time, the individual used an exploit to vote 3,071 times for the 'No' answer. The Press removed those votes to change the vote back to 39 (as of that day) for 'No' and the IP address was blocked.

'The question, which still remains on the website, reads 'Do you think Ohio should pass a bill that bans collective bargaining in state employees, similar to the one in Wisconsin?'"

7. Winning Isn't The Only Thing For Robotics Team In Duluth From Chicago.

8. 38 American Cities Are More Socially-Networked Than Frumpy Chicago.

9. The Tao of Stella: "CONGRATS TO Gov. Quinn on signing the bill abolishing the death penalty. I am sure up-and-coming murderers now will have no fear of being sentenced to a dirt nap no matter how heinous the crime."

10. The Tao of Sneed: "Bow Wow: Leave it to our irrepressible state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to time her knee replacement surgery to coincide with leg surgery on 'Jack,' one of her three adopted dogs. The Scotty came to visit Judy at a Chicago rehab center this weekend 'and we hobbled around together,' she told Sneed."

I give up.

11. Rahm the Reformer: "Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White gave a crucial endorsement to Rahm Emanuel's mayoral bid in the waning days of the campaign. Soon after Emanuel won, the mayor-elect sent a check to White's ward organization."

*

Note to Early and Often and the Chicago News Cooperative: In a democracy you shouldn't have to pay to find out what your elected officials are up to; essential journalism should never be only for those who can afford it.

12. Horse Racing Is Dead. Long Live Horse Racing.

13. As Seen On TV in Chicago.

14. The Week in Chicago Rock.

15. The Week in WTF.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: As seen on TV.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Pretty Reckless at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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2. Gemini Club at the Abbey Pub on Wednesday night.

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3. Cold Blue Kid at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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4. The Nurse Novels at the Abbey Pub on Thursday night.

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5. Tahiti at the Abbey Pub on Wednesday night.

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6. Gizzae at the Wild Hare on Sunday night.

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7. Bigcolour at Schubas on Monday night.

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8. The Laureates at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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9. Brother George at Schubas on Monday night.

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10. Bon Jovi at the United Center on Wednesday night.

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11. The Jezabels at Schubas on Monday night.

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12. Janet Jackson at the Chicago Theatre on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

As Seen On TV in Chicago

"Telebrands CEO AJ Khubani discusses some of his company's most recent As Seen On TV hits as well as some inventions he reviewed at the Allstate Arena on Wednesday evening."

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"WLS-TV in Chicago covers Wednesday's Inventors Day hosted by Telebrands CEO AJ Khubani at the Skyline Room in the Allstate Arena."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. The Death Penalty, WTF?

The death penalty is dead in Illinois. Some will be glad; some will doubt the wisdom of it.

But it was necessary. This is less about the injustice of capital punishment than the injustice of, well, the Illinois legal system.

The peril of putting innocent people on death row seems obvious enough, but the larger indictment is that justice doesn't work in Illinois. It can't be trusted. How do you like them apples?

It's not just bad events. It's the system.

So Gov. Pat Quinn permanently called off the necktie party and commuted the death date for 15 prisoners.

But if the decision tacitly acknowledges the evidence that sent them to Death Row was dubious, wasn't it the same evidence that convicted them of murder? How can they still serve life? Just wondering.

2. Todd Stroger, WTF?

You're not really surprised by the Toddster's cranial deficiency, are ya?

But consider the rampant questions. This is the man who administered Cook County's millions in public money; so which fact is more appalling? That he doesn't know if he contributed to unemployment insurance or that you elected him? WTF votes for Numero Dos.

He still shows up intermittently on WGN-AM where host John Williams pretends, for the sake of a seemingly real conversation, that Stroger isn't a total dope.

But, of course, he is.

3. Ron Huberman, WTF?

Politics is the business of controlling the narrative. It makes less difference that a perception is factual than whether the false impression of that fact is sustainable.

The Mayor Daley narrative to many a citizen who, let's face it, liked his act well enough to keep re-enlisting him for the job, was that he was a sound though integrity-challenged manager.

But the narrative of that reality doesn't hold up so well now that Daley is all but gone, as are some of the henchmen who stayed out of the rain under his umbrella.

Thus when interim CPS chief Terry Mazany says Daley protege Ron Huberman ran local schools like a ham-handed apparatchik, it damages the comforting at-least-Daley-is-competent narrative. In fact, Mazany says local public schools are a big fat mess largely because of Huberman and, by extension, Daley.

Indeed, Huberman's parry-and-thrust attacks on the teachers union certainly make more sense now; constant conflict and chaos are useful when calm might inspire someone to take a close look at how the system is working.

The local blog community knew it; the big media didn't. They let the narrative control them.

The quicker the Daley era disappears in the rear view mirror, the more we will ask WTF.

4. Sun-Times Watchdogs, WTF?

Newspapers love these government-treats-them-better-than-us stories because it's a cheap thrill.

But if a crook wants to go straight, is it really a bad thing to offer a job in government?

After all, if everybody was outraged by the idea, wouldn't it leave the convict with no alternative but to be a crook again? It's their preferred method of making a buck.

5. Northwestern's Other News, WTF?

While Northwestern endured Dildogate last week, the true misfortune of that event was that it obscured a truly profound Northwestern achievement.

The Alzheimer's breakthrough is real, substantial news.

Scientists always warn that successfully treating a disease's symptoms doesn't cure the disease. But we civilians are less concerned about the perfect answer and are most hopeful that symptoms of a disease are thwarted. After all, we don't really insist that alcoholism is "cured." We just want the drinker to stop drinking.

As for Alzheimer's, the draining loss of memory - the end of coherent intellect and the loss of life's joy - is what terrifies us about this disease.

We fear death, but we fear living as sleeping ghosts even more.

Any treatment that forestalls that effect might not be a cure, but until a cure comes along, that will do.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

Walmart Wins: Pat Quinn Takes Away Our Amazon Ads

Enhanced by the Beachwood Linking The News Project.

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Hello,

For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of Illinois residents. Unfortunately, a new state tax law signed by Governor Quinn compels us to terminate this program for Illinois-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by Illinois-based affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We had opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by national retailing chains, most of which are based outside Illinois, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that its enactment forces this action.

As a result of the new law, contracts with all Illinois affiliates of the Amazon Associates Program will be terminated and those Illinois residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to April 15, 2011 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. Based on your account closure date of April 15, 2011, any final payments will be paid by July 1, 2011.

You are receiving this e-mail because our records indicate that you are a resident of Illinois. If you are not currently a permanent resident of Illinois, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state after April 15, please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To be clear, this development will only impact our ability to continue the Associates Program in Illinois, and will not affect the ability of Illinois residents to purchase online at www.amazon.com from Amazon's retail business.

We have enjoyed working with you and other Illinois-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to Illinois residents.

Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

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See also these dots and connect them:

* State Business-Incentive Program Falling Short Of Promised Job Creation

* Groupon Gets $3.5 Million From Illinois For 250 New Jobs

* Groupon Co-Founder To Head State Innovation Panel

* CouponCabin.com Comments On Gov. Quinn Signing Internet Tax Bill

* New Tax Law Forces FatWallet To Look Out Of State

* Governor Pat Quinn To Small Business: Drop Dead

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FIELD REPORTS:

Rhode Island: Not Well-Thought Out

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California: What's Next, The E-Mail Tax?

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Colorado: Bikini.com

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New York: Dumb

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Horse Racing Is Dead; Long Live Horse Racing

As badly as many things seem to be going in Chicago, where on earth would this city be without Eric "E-Z" Zorn?

He knows just what to do with local TV news: more of the same! He's able to explain to us simpletons just what the Blagojevich sentencing gambit really means. And in just 268 words and a video link he tells us e-books are coming and even touches on the true meaning of traditional libraries.

I've never really read or paid much attention to Eric Zorn, and I'm not really angrily seething at him here either (he doesn't seem worth it), but when he talks about horse racing, it's part of this gig to notice. His overall efforts seem inconsequential, unless they're just meant to rile up people and keep the site hits coming. He just seems like a general interest pages' Jay Mariotti.

So upon returning from Las Vegas - more on that later - I see Zorn's blo(b)g hitting the fan.

In what really appears to be a bald-faced ploy to generate hits and comments, Zorn arm-chaired it and used a report by the Sun-Times's Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney on the declining state of Illinois racing to eat up bandwidth and regurgitate a column he wrote in the early 1990s to bash horse racing and its fans and to explain the essence of sport.

Horses and jockeys are not athletes, and nobody would care about the races if it weren't for gambling, Zorn emotes, even using the tired old columnist's "spare me" line from atop his Gothic Tower pedestal. E-Z fills us in on the true sports, which include ultimate frisbee and bowling. The man's a hipster, no question.

I don't really give a damn about Eric Zorn or what he writes, but his self-superiority must be taken down like the Hindenburg and his condescending words must be challenged.

"A sorry and shrinking collection of rail-birds seem to be all that's propping up what's left," he writes. E-Z, I'm not a sorry railbird. I'm a professional, in a modernized version of the same industry you are. John Doyle, recent winner of $500,000 in the NTRA National Handicapping Championship, is a former IBM executive who now handicaps the horses full-time.

Sorry you had to fall prey to the horseplayer stereotype, but my handicapping friends, characters as they may be, are some of the nicest and loyal friends you could want, and they're intelligent too. They've spent their lives working hard and keep sharp through the mental calisthenics of handicapping races. And they can teach you a few things about life itself.

There's this: "[A] group of horses owned by rich people and steered by small people race around a track to see which one is fastest. Would anyone care if no one could bet?"

And this: "[S]top pretending the tracks are anything but gambling dens."

Do I feel the word "opium" there?

E-Z, my man, settle down! If you don't dig the horses and don't approve of gambling - there's that moral high ground again - back away. Hey bro, you didn't lose the nest egg on Zenyatta to win, did you?

Horse racing in Illinois is responsible for employing thousands of people, from down on the farm to the backstretch to the ticket takers. Illinois racing is in trouble. The casinos command the attention of the politicians' wallets.

Is E-Z the kind of guy who kicks people when they're down? He sure seemed like it with this smarmy little BB on Tuesday.

One more thing, I would love to see how football, or any other sport, would fare if we really eradicated gambling, including fantasy leagues, from the equation. If I wouldn't have been able to bet on the NFL this past season, the Bears and every other team wouldn't have gotten the time of day from me. I don't think I'm alone.

E-Z, you ain't liv'd 'til you've won the coin toss prop bet on the Super Bowl. I know you've got your observations, reports, tips, referrals and tirades to keep your juices janglin', but you're always very welcome to scour the column here for a tip on a horse.

Illinois Extinction?
And what about that Sun-Times's extreme-unction job on the state of horse racing in Illinois?

Korecki's and McKinney's description of the financial straits of the sport are true, with Illinois being one of the most racing-depressed states. Owners and trainers are going elsewhere, where the purses are higher and the competition better.

The sport itself deserves much blame, especially when you look at the internecine greed squabbles that keep track simulcasting signals from large numbers of horseplayers in any year and the exorbitant take-out rates at the tracks and the OTBs.

But one thought occurred to me as we played the races in the dazzling race and sports book at Bellagio last week. How is horse racing ever going to pick up new players and fans when an entire generation of school kids and young people don't have the attention span of a bug and ingest the prescriptions to prove it?

Horse racing is a terrific combination of patience and study, topped off by two of the most exciting minutes you could want. The more you play, the more you build up a body of experience, not unlike building a personal library. And I defy you to not get excited by the thundering herd racing by you on the rail.

People my age usually say these kinds of things about those "young people." But I see examples of it every day within an ever-widening age range. Can people really not concentrate for more than the two seconds it takes for the slot machine to stop or the 60 seconds of finishing a blac jack hand?

Just because I can, E-Z, don't trash on me.

OTB Blues
When you visit Las Vegas, you're asking for it, especially as a horseplayer.

Great company, great dining and fabulous weather included, you also see how a race book is run out there. Then you break down on the plane home knowing there is no venue like it anywhere in Chicago.

You know the story. The Jackson Street OTB, faithfully patronized my many of us for many years, shut down. The faithful trudge to LaSalle Street and the Stretch Run, only to run into bad service in cramped quarters with malfunctioning machines and high take-out. Then it too closes. The Mud Bug? Perhaps I should give it one more shot.

But we don't have anything here like the Bellagio or any number of Vegas books with the plush leather recliner rockers, free beer for a small tip, individual simulcast monitors, decent food and sports betting off to the side. I get that in my den, but it's not the same as playing with the guys at the OTB or the track. It's all about service in Vegas, and I guess all I can say is, we don't get it here.

And that's truly a bummer.

Our Oak
Our guys on the Giant Oak beat, the Sholis brothers, Dave and Vic, check in with the news that the Oakster is Number One!

That's according to the latest National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Thoroughbred Poll. The Illinois-bred Giant Oak vaulted into first place off an exciting and impressive win in the February 5th Donn Handicap at Gulfstream. Seemingly biding his time, Oak steadily swallowed the leaders in the stretch to win by two lengths.

I'm not entirely sure what the poll really means, but to Giant Oak fans, he's on the radar and his finish in the Donn and a win in last November's Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs portend very good things for 2011.

He's training very well at Gulfstream right now and trainer Chris Block appears to have him pointed to the April 9th Oaklawn Handicap. We would also hope to see him on one or two of the Triple Crown undercards.

The Big Mo
This weekend, catch up with Uncle Mo, the most touted Kentucky Derby candidate going, as he starts in the Timely Writer at Gulfstream. If not written for him, the race purse was enhanced to get him. It also keeps him separated from barnmate Brethren, who will go in the Tampa Bay Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher did not want the two facing off before the May 7. Uncle Mo need not worry about having enough graded stakes earnings to get into the Derby after his win in the Breeders' Cup Futurity.

The two-year-old champion, Uncle Mo figures to have only two preps, at most, for the Derby, so the microscope will be on him for this race. The Road to the Roses is clearly what-have-you-done-for-me-lately when it comes to pre-race Derby hype and Mo won't be facing much here.

But it will be nice to finally see him running for the first time in 2011.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Village To Stick With Current Skunk Policy.

2. Funny, I don't see Barack Obama's name on here.

Maybe that's because he supports the death penalty despite this bit of cutesiness. Sometimes even without a trial.

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"Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton's closest competitor for the Democratic nod, is embarrassingly hypocritical on the issue," John Nichols wrote in 2008. "With death penalty abolitionists, he cites his work as an Illinois state senator to reform that state's capital punishment system. With death penalty supporters, he says allowing executions is a way of saying that 'the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage.'"

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"When Barack Obama first ran for the Illinois state Senate in 1996, he said in a campaign questionnaire that he opposed capital punishment," the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2008.

"By the time Obama ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, he was not advocating abolition of the death penalty, but was saying the system of investigating and prosecuting capital crimes was so flawed that the nation should declare a moratorium on executions, like the one imposed in Illinois by Republican Gov. George Ryan. Obama has abandoned that position as a senator, accepts the death penalty for the most heinous crimes, and calls for reforms like those he championed in Illinois to guard against wrongful convictions, such as the tape-recording of all police interrogations."

("On gun control, Obama answered the same 1996 Illinois questionnaire by endorsing a statewide ban on handguns. He soon disavowed that position, claiming that a staffer had filled out the survey in error, but he was still calling for a national ban on carrying handguns as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2004, according to a Chicago Tribune report.")

*

See also: "Obama's Record Does Not Match His Rhetoric."

3. "Mayor Richard Daley, the former Cook County state's attorney, reiterated his support today for the death penalty," the Tribune reported yesterday.

"Daley also suggested expanded use of DNA testing could prevent the erroneous and wrongful prosecutions that fed the movement in Illinois and across the country to abolish the death penalty.

"'As a former prosecutor, I believe DNA testing should be part of the whole criminal justice system here in the state of Illinois,' Daley said. 'It prevents any abuse whatsoever if you get DNA testing.'

"'That solves all the human issues, dealing with the witnesses, dealing with police or anyone else,' the mayor added. 'You need DNA testing. And not just on the death penalty or life imprisonment - for all cases. That takes all the discretion away from human beings.'"

You can read the comments to this story to get just a flavor of how horrifically absurd those statements from the World's Greatest Mayor are.

4. And what in God's name is up with Lisa Madigan?

5. Let's face it, Pat Quinn - heretofore a death penalty supporter himself - finally did something right. Illinois is the poster state for why the death penalty is untenable under any argument and anyone who lives here and believes otherwise simply isn't paying attention.

6. "JPMorgan Chase executives discussed downgrading their internal credit rating for Tribune Co. just hours after the media company completed a leveraged buyout the bank helped finance," AP reports.

7. I know Stella Foster shouldn't be worth my time, but after all these years I still can't get over the fact that she actually draws a paycheck from a metropolitan newspaper while so many other actual journalists go unemployed. So once again, I turn your attention to quite possibly the world's worst "columnist."

Item 2 on Wednesday:

"WHY IS IT THAT YOUNG Americans are so quick to embrace violence and negative behavior? Charlie Sheen is out of control, yet he has millions of followers on Twitter. Northwestern University is negatively in the news due to a couple, Faith Kroll and her fiance, Jim Marcus (not students), demonstrating how to use a high-powered sex toy at an optional seminar at the university last month. The couple was asked to speak to the students about the world of kinky and fetish sex for a Human Sexuality class, and Marcus used the toy on her while Kroll was butt naked.

"Over 100 students watched. And in the immortal words of Mr. Brown on the Tyler Perry Meet the Browns sitcom, 'That's just nasty!' What was really gained by that disgusting demonstration? . . . as if those 100-plus students didn't already know exactly what to do! If they are that stupid and uninformed, how the hell did they get into Northwestern in the first place?? Especially since this society thrives on gratuitous sexual images, right? Most assuredly, those brainiacs were there just for the titillation, and they ain't foolin' me!"

All of which is typical Stella, but the piece de resistance is that item 1 (with photo) was about a guy who got famous on a show made popular because of its almost total emphasis on sex and violence, not to mention rampant alcohol abuse (all of which I favor, but that's beside the point):

"JERSEY SHORE reality star Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino will be the special guest at the Raven Club in Schaumburg on Saturday. Sorrentino, whose abs and personality have made him a bunch of money, not only from the hit show but also from endorsements for vodka, Reebok shoes, a book, workout DVD, etc., will be flexing onstage starting at 10:30 p.m., with the doors opening at 9 p.m. This is his pre-St. Pat's Day celebration. For more info: (847) 885-2222."

Stella, you are beyond irony. Or not even up to it.

8. On the other hand, Mary Schmich is also a contender.

*

Are there bigger buzzkills in Chicago than Schmich and Zorn? They should rent themselves out as party killers.

9. Local Honey For A Living Ale: South Side beekeeper hooks up with Goose Island Brewery.

10. Can The Blackhawks Repeat? Maybe!

11. Dear President Obama: Please Stand In Front Of Workers, Not Behind Them.

12. Death And The Powers: The Robots' Opera. At the Chicago Opera Theater.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Domo.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

President Obama: Lead the Charge for Workers

The attacks on our unions in Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere aren't just labor struggles or budget battles. They're an attack on the American middle-class - an attempt to, in a single blow, undo generations of progress for labor and working class Americans.

President Obama needs to lead the charge against this affront on public workers and unions. He needs to be on the front-lines of these protests, as he promised while on the campaign trail in 2007.

This is a defining moment for our country, and we need our President to lead. Will you join me in signing this petition to our President?

Let me be clear: President Obama stands with workers, unions, and the middle-class everywhere. I do not question that. But standing behind workers isn't enough right now. We need him to stand in front of workers and our movement. We need him to lead the charge - let everyone know that America does not sit idly by while a few Republican governors, backed by their big business interests, try to destroy the foundation of our middle class.

This is simply too important to sit on the sidelines. Imagine the impact on this struggle if the President of the United States would join, in-person, with the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across this country. It could be a game-changer. Please join me in signing this important petition - and ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same:

I've spent the last few weeks joining with workers in Ohio and around the country, rallying against this attack on workers' rights. It has been what I've done my whole life - from fighting unfair trade deals, to walking the picket lines at strikes everywhere, to expanding health coverage for displaced workers. This is my purpose: To stand up and to speak out on behalf of those who have built this country and who want to rebuild this country again.

The future of labor, as John L. Lewis said, is the future of America. And, right now, this is a turning point for both. We need our President to lead the charge.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

Local Honey For A Living Ale

"Brewers John and Keith went to the South Side of Chicago to get honey for a Day of the Living Ales beer from Mr. Pronger, a local honey distributor."

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It took first place.

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From BeerAdvocate:

"After a free rise fermentation with our Saison yeast strain, we add crushed white pepper, mashed fresh Michigan strawberries and Local Farmer's market honey to create a dry, drinkable yet complex Saison variation."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

Death And The Powers: The Robots' Opera

An animated synopsis of Tod Machover's new work at the Chicago Opera Theater.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

Can The Blackhawks Repeat?

With the flu, hangovers and other injuries behind them, maybe so!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Is Rod Blagojevich saying a poor person - even a poor celebrity - can't get a fair trial?

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And haven't Sam Adam Sr. and Jr. already said that despite their ostensible fervent belief in their former client's innocence - and their own personal wealth - that they aren't willing to see through their commitment to justice if they aren't gonna get paid?

2. "Poor Todd Stroger," John Kass writes.

"Only a few months ago, taxpayers were paying him $170,000 a year so that he could pretend to run Cook County government.

"But then taxpayers booted him out of office and Stroger was out of a job.

"The thing is, he couldn't find another job that paid so well. It's tough out there.

"And the job market for black political pinatas who take media beatings for the white guys who really run things is exceptionally tight these days.

"So Stroger, like many other Americans out of work, filed for unemployment benefits."

I added the links. Just trying to be helpful.

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"In fact, news reports indicated she 'frowned' upon Stroger's big idea.

"I don't think it's appropriate for elected officials who lose elections to apply for unemployment compensation," Preckwinkle said Tuesday. "My understanding from staff is that he's ineligible."

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One of my many ideas rejected by the Knight News Challenge over the years was a project I called Linking The News. Basically I - and a handy assistant or two - would take create a website where we took a story (or a few) each day out of the print press (and/or lax online operations) and linked it up. We would also add video and/or audio when and where appropriate, as well as other simple but amazingly effective tools such as posting accompanying documents (one thing the MSM has learned to do, to be fair.)

The point would be to create lessons for all as well as to enhance for readers what they were being given by the pokey ol' MSM. (Truth to tell, ex-pat MSMers like the Chicago News Cooperative could use the same treatment, as well as faux anti-MSMers like the Reader.)

Of course, the Knight News Challenge has never been interested in my ideas, perhaps because they tend to revolve around content, reporting, journalism and even proven business models.

If I proposed delivering citizen journalism to cell phones through Facebook accounts to eighth-graders, I'd be swimming in cash.

But Knight - or someone - oughta get into these newsrooms and either fix whatever technological obstacles they have to an enhanced digital presentation or train reporters and editors in the new newswriting in which the very shape of the narrative of any given story is altered by the ability to present it in 3-D instead of 2-D.

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Not getting it: Links sometimes act as footnotes but they shouldn't be footnotes.

That's like giving readers homework.

But then, that's Zorn! Yeesh.

3. Predicted afternoon headline: "Quinn Kills Death Penalty."

4. Ask Lee Bey.

5. Snoop Dogg Expands Football League To Chicago With 8 Teams.

6. "Lake Forest School Chief's Extravagant Compensation Exceeds Governor."

7. Bulls' John Paxson Admits He Should Not Have Choked Vinny Del Negro.

8. "Five US cities launched initiatives Tuesday to let residents refuse junk mail, hoping to support the environment and cut expenses by stopping waste at its source," APF reports.

"Americans receive some 100 billion pieces of advertising mail a year, according to the US Postal Service. Catalog Choice, a non-profit group, estimates that disposal costs at least $1 billion annually.

"Catalog Choice, set up in 2007, allows people to go online to ask specific companies not to mail them. Chuck Teller, executive director of the group, said some one percent of the US population now chooses to opt out of some mail.

"Five communities including Chicago and Kansas City said they were teaming up with Catalog Choice to set up localized versions, which Teller hoped would give the initiative more authority and broaden involvement."

9. "A wife flew to Chicago and cut the crotches out of the pants of a woman who was vacationing with her Wilmette husband, police said," the TribLocal Wilmette/Kenilworth reports.

Isn't that doing the husband a favor?

Bad taste? Too soon?

10. Find out which Chicago player is among our fantasy top 20 outfielders.

11. Bugging The Chicago School Board. Who wants to know?

12. City Needs New Policy For The New Maxwell Street Market: An Open Letter To Mayor-Elect Emanuel.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crotchety.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:17 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Top 20 Outfielders

Ranking outfielders is not as much fun as it used to be.

It's a deep position for obvious reasons, and seemingly filled with multi-stat fantasy threats, but in recent years there have been too many guys who peaked early (see Grady Sizemore) too many guys who could never quite realize their potential (see B.J. Upton) and too many one-year wonders (see Matt Kemp, maybe).

That said, my top-ranked outfielder would also be my top-ranked player overall in most leagues.

After that, it gets pretty dicey, and I think you could make a good argument for shuffling my rankings in multiple ways. Ultimately, I like my outfielders to contribute stolen bases, and they need to hit well regardless of their power numbers.

Here's my top 20:

1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado.

Optimum mix of power, speed, average; excels in all stat categories.

2. Carl Crawford, Boston.

Has never hit many HRs, but stolen bases, extra base hits, runs galore.

3. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee.

All stats fell slightly last year, but still a multi-stat dynamo.

4. Josh Hamilton, Texas.

Average leads the way, but 35 HRs, 110 RBIS, 15 SBs still possible.

5. Corey Hart, Milwaukee.

Broke through last year after many wrote him off; another nice power/speed package.

6. Alex Rios, White Sox.

Has to prove consistency, but 20+ HRS and 30+ SBs is an exclusive club.

7. Chris Young, Arizona.

Potential for a smaller club - 30 HRs, 30 SBs, but average still lags

8. Delmon Young, Minnesota.

An RBI/doubles machine with so-so power, speed is still improving.

9. Justin Upton, Arizona.

Supposedly can do it all, buts hasn't shown it yet. Breakthrough year?

10. Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland.

A hidden gem who may yield 25 HRs, 25 SBs and 100 RBIs.

11. Jose Bautista, Toronto.

Primarily a 3B, but his power stats and OF flexibility make him an option.

12. Matt Holliday, St. Louis.

Second fiddle to Albert Pujols could easily be higher, but 9 SBs last year may be a career peak.

13. Matt Kemp, LA Dodgers.

Another great power and speed option, but his average dove to .249 last year.

14. Vernon Wells, LA Angels.

New scenery makes me think 2010 rebound could continue with another 30 HR year.

15. Jason Heyward, Atlanta.

Another youngin' who can do it all, but will he have a sophomore slump?

16. Mike Stanton, Florida.

If I'm in a risk-taking mood, I'd take him ahead of the previous six. HRs balance sub-par average.

17. Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh.

Poised to have a .300/20 HR/40 SB season.

18. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle.

Fade has started, but he'll get his 200 hits, 40 SBs again.

19. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati.

Slow build in recent years has him figured for 30 HRs, 90 RBIs in 2011.

20. Jayson Werth, Washington.

Most are expecting a fade, but he still brings a little bit of everything.

Sleeper: Dayan Viciedo from the Sox, who has been looking good this spring and could make a nice last-round fantasy pick.

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Next week, we'll have our final fantasy baseball draft guide entry on relief pitchers and take a look at what the fantasy world experts are saying about the season ahead.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

Bugging The Chicago School Board

Earlier this month, the Sun-Times reported that the Chicago Board of Education spent $3,000 to electronically sweep certain administrative offices - including that of the board president - for bugs.

I am not talking about cockroaches here. I am not even talking about ants. The bugs I am talking about are eavesdropping devices capable of surreptitiously recording conversations.

A question then arises. Who would want to record conversations in the offices of CPS administrators?

We can imagine all kinds of possibilities - personal enemies; political enemies - but the problem is this: It's illegal.

In Illinois, an eavesdropping device cannot be used to record or overhear a conversation without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

Violations of the eavesdropping law are punishable as felonies.

Likewise, to enter the office to place the bugs may be construed as burglary, an additional felony. Along with the felony, there are civil penalties.

A union official, a political opponent, or a crossed lover would be facing a sentence in a state prison as well a severe loss of personal assets. A private investigator hired to place the bugs would also face the revocation of their license.

Who would take these risks to simply record conversations? If it is illegal, how could the recorded conversations be used? Could it be that school board members are paranoid about something?

I discuss this in my book One Hundred Percent Guilty. While George Ryan was the Illinois Secretary of State, he used investigators under his inspector general to sweep both his government office and his campaign headquarters. He was eventually indicted and convicted for misuse of taxpayer funds in connection to sweeping his private political office.

Ryan had plenty of reasons to be paranoid. He was committing numerous felonies including obstruction of justice , fraud, and extortion.

There are exceptions to the Illinois eavesdropping restrictions. For example, the federal government can trump the state law. After exhausting all routine investigative procedures, the FBI, armed with probable cause, could file an affidavit with a federal judge allowing them to wiretap or use some other third-party eavesdropping device in order to listen and record an alleged criminal's discussion of illegal activity.

It was done in both the Family Secrets and Blagojevich cases. It was also probably the reason for Ryan's paranoia.

Can anyone think of any reason why the FBI would wiretap the Chicago Public Schools board's offices?

CPS is an altruistic agency whose website describes it leadership as a "team of committed, distinguished and highly accomplished individuals working to improve the education of Chicago children."

Why the paranoia?

The state eavesdropping law also requires the person who discovers one of them nasty little bugs to promptly report the critter to the states attorney.

So, if during one of those costly CPS sweeps, an illegal eavesdropping device is uncovered we can count on CPS to report it. And another Chicago criminal will be publicly exposed.

-

Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

-

See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

City Needs New Policy For The New Maxwell Street Market: An Open Letter To Mayor-Elect Emanuel

Dear Mayor-Elect Emanuel,

Congratulations on your election victory.

I write this letter because I hope you are sincere about making positive change for Chicago.

But if you want positive change for the city, you need to know that a world-class city is more than neatness, corporate headquarters', and big-box stores. A world-class city also includes social harmony, quality conversations across race and class, and preservation of the historical fabric, authenticity, and vibrancy in public places.

I expect you know about this, having lived in Washington D.C., and having visited places such as New York City and Paris; Manny's delicatessen and Valois cafeteria.

I want to suggest how some simple changes in public policy can make the city money, create businesses and jobs, and enhance the reputation of Chicago as a world-class city.

The Problematic New Maxwell Street Market
In Chicago there is a great economic, social, and job creation asset, The New Maxwell Street Market, that is being wasted by extraordinary high vendor fees, bad management, empty spaces, a decline in customers, lack of administrative friendliness to Bluesmen and other entertainers, lack of parking for customers, and highly aggressive prowling city tow trucks.

The New Maxwell Street Market is Chicago's official public market, operated by the City, it seems, to run it into the ground. It is located on Desplaines Street between Roosevelt Road and Harrison, just east of UIC, and is open on Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. One of the vendors, Bossman, sold some stuff a few years ago to your former employer, President Barack Obama.

The Political Economy Of The Market
The Market was originally created to provide a working-class shopping district away from the Loop to prevent low-income shoppers and discount immigrant merchants from infiltrating the city's core. But it also served a positive purpose for the low-income and discriminated people of Chicago; it gave them a safety net, a source of jobs, a low-cost way to start a business, a low-risk way to test-market new products and services, a source of discount shopping, and a social gathering spot.

Chicago's regional music, Urban Electric Blues, and one of its regional cuisines, the Maxwell Street Polish, were created there.

It provided a place for people to get a foothold on the first rung of the economic ladder. It was an incubator that allowed people to learn a business from watching others, expand social networks that enabled people to gain information and connections unattainable in race and class segregated neighborhoods, and it allowed for money capital to flow to people as they learned who was trustworthy and could make loans and business deals with.

Owing to city policy, the Market has been distressed since the retirement of consumer affairs commissioner Caroline Shoenberger in 2004. She was a hands-on supervisor of the Market (then on Canal Street) who went there every weekend and was able to fluently speak to the Mexican vendors. She knew how to fight for the interests of the Market. While I did not agree with her on every policy, she made a sincere attempt to listen to the pulse of the market and learn, by trial and error, how to best manage it.

The need for a Maxwell Street Market is greater than ever. Immigration to Chicago is still high, the nation is still in a period of high unemployment, and unemployment in the poor neighborhoods is about three times as high as the national average. Chicago is still a segregated city. It needs places where people can socially mingle across race and class and share their cultures. It needs a place where people can, in a real-world hands-on way, create businesses and jobs. It needs an authentic place to celebrate its soul.

Policy Change You Can Believe In
The first priority for change is to dramatically lower the vendor fees in line with rates charged at other markets. This is basic Econ 101: lower the price and increase the quantity demanded.

This will bring more fee-paying vendors, less empty spaces, and more customers. It should also bring more revenue to the city, since it is likely that vendor fee revenues will increase if the fee price elasticity is high, which it likely is.

This will be even more revenue-enhancing if free diagonal parking on Sunday mornings is again allowed on Jefferson and Clinton Streets, tow trucks are told to be less aggressive, and an advisory board is created for the market made up of vendors, local neighborhood store owners, academics, community activists, and aldermen who do not view the Market as a zero-sum game. The Board of Advisors should be people who embrace diversity, social justice, working class culture, and a commitment to making Chicago work for all people.

Even more revenue will flow to the city if the market is appropriately branded and corporate sponsorships are sought. Preservationist Bill Lavicka, along with sculptor Richard Hunt, have created a design for a monument to the Market called the March of the Immigrants. That could be funded by donations and foundations and bring another element to the Market to make it a destination place.

The Maxwell Street Foundation wants to create a museum in the area to memorialize the immigrant history of Maxwell Street emphasizing its Jewish, Hispanic, and African-American roots, and especially its connections to boot-strap entrepreneurship and Urban Blues, the root music for rock n' roll. Chicago is the northern terminus of the Blues trail, from New Orleans, through Mississippi, to Memphis, and on to Chicago - The French Quarter to Beale Street to Maxwell Street.

I have read you like to go to museums. While still only a sliver of the old Maxwell Street Market, it is a museum, a living museum. What a thrill it would be to visit a bricks and mortar museum to learn about the past and then see that past embodied in the present, in a living, thriving marketplace. You can make that happen - not with money but with a change in policy.

Please note that the New Maxwell Street Market is a community public street market; it's not "Taste of Chicago" nor should it be. The Maxwell Street Market, in its heyday, was far superior to "Taste of Chicago." Old Maxwell Street had better food and better entertainment; it was also more spontaneous and more affordable to the customers, vendors, and the City. The New Maxwell Street Market can never regain the glory of Old Maxwell Street but an attempt can be made to better recapture more of its spirit.

Come Meet Us
I invite you to go on a tour of the Market with me to meet the vendors and shoppers there who can tell you, better than I, about it. They are proud of you winning the mayoral election, hoping you will bring positive change to the city. They are from all over the world and came to Chicago seeking a better life for themselves and their family.

You can meet:

* Mr. Norris from Greenville, Mississippi, who sells antiques and rummage;

* Celio Gerero from the Bronx, who sells collectibles and bric a brac;

* Monica at Manolo's Taqueria Stand from Iguala, Mexico, who wants to open up a restaurant and employ Chicagoans;

* Salvatore Augusta from Palermo, Sicily, who sells used uniforms;

* Mr. Brunius from Louisiana, who sells vacuum cleaners;

* Merlin who sells hats and was known as the Mayor of old Maxwell Street for his volunteer work to keep the streets clean;

* Samuel Porek from Vilna, Gubernia, who was liberated from the concentration camps and fled to Chicago to sell on old Maxwell Street - he sells shoes with his son Avrumela;

* Daniel Carbajel who sells produce and whose mother Alicia Luna was one of the early Mexican produce sellers in the old Market;

* Anna Campusana from Michoacan, who sells children's clothing and whose son is missing for two years now - kidnapped by the cartels;

* Clarence "Lil' Scotty" Scott who is a civil rights activist from South Carolina and still sings Blues (just outside the Market) using a pen to cover his trach hole to help him breathe; he sang with Screamin' Jay Hawkins;

* Frank "Little Sonny" Scott Jr. who is from Scott Plantation, Texas, and is 82-years-old and plays the Blues Percussive House Keys (just outside of the Market); he got Freddie King started, and:

* Charley Joe who sells framed poetry about his remembrances growing up in Flovilla, Georgia.

Resources To Tap
The Market has plenty of fans who would be glad to help and advise you about how to best run the Market. Foremost among these is, of course, the vendors and shoppers of the Market. Other good helpers would include Urban Planning Professor Alfonso Morales at University of Wisconsin who, with assistance from UIC-trained urbanologist Alan Mammoser, wrote the report New Maxwell Street Market: Present and Future; Shoenberger; anthropologist Carolyn Eastwood; real estate researcher and public markets consultant Larry Lund; food scholars Bruce Kraig and Rick Bayless; architects Lavicka and Alan Johnson; blues impresarios Lowreen Lewis and Tony Mangiullo; and the board of the Maxwell Street Foundation.

Writers Carl Sandburg, Nelson Algren, and Studs Terkel were fans of the Market; and so were civic leaders Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, Saul Alinsky, and Supreme Court Judge Arthur Goldberg. So were entertainment personalities The Chess Brothers, Pervis Spann, and Bo Diddley. You can be a fan, too.

Checkmate
I leave you with this quote from Kevin Chess, Phil's son:

Blues musicians found Maxwell Street's wall outlets friendly, and found Maxwell Street's citizens, shoppers and passersby friendly, receptive and supportive of their art. Maxwell Street is proven to be a springboard for rock and roll - and part of the musical history of the world. When everybody's great-grandparents and grandparents are gone, who will tell the stories of Maxwell Street history?

With hopes for a new beginning,

Steve Balkin
Professor of Economics
Roosevelt University

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Comments welcome.

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See also:
* The Maxwell Street Muddle
* Maxwell Street Malfeasance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Beachwood will return on Wednesday in all its friggin' glory.

The [Monday] Papers
"Chicago Public Schools chief Terry Mazany will complete his 100th day in office this week, a milestone that has him reflecting on the school district's troubles and promoting a new vision to help fix what he considers the chaotic and fractious reign of his predecessor, Ron Huberman," the Tribune reports.

"'The system was in free fall,' Mazany said of the district after Huberman's departure in November. "There was plunging morale. Vacancies in key leadership positions. A balkanized organization structure where each unit was doing their own thing. And there was a loss in a unifying vision for education.'"

Heckuva job, Ronnie.

*

"It would be a good idea for whoever is coming in to have a road map, somewhere to start, because it's a colossal mess right now," Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals Association, told the Trib. "Right now, CPS is all over the place. It's in a major state of dysfunction."

Heckuva job, Richie.

*

"Upon his appointment, Huberman immediately hired a string of cronies to top positions in the school system," Substance News reported last fall. "In every major case, Huberman's appointees received significant pay raises in comparison with the pay of their predecessors in the same jobs. One of the main distinctions of the Huberman bureaucracy was that Huberman's appointees didn't even pretend to know anything about Chicago's public schools or the work they would be required to do in them."

See also Ben Joravsky's "A Raise By Any Other Name."

*

"By the time Huberman was appointed by Daley, Chicago's media had long ago surrendered its reporting on the public schools to the Board of Education's 'Office of Communications,'" Substance continues. "Under Huberman, the Office of Communications was placed under the command of former Chicago Police Department spokesman Monique Bond, whose $130,000 per year salary topped that of her highest paid predecessor (Peter Cunningham) by more than $10,000 (when benefits are included, since Cunningham was a 'consultant' for most of his career at CPS, the costs of Bond are even greater). Bond supplied Chicago's dwindling number of education reporters with a steady supply of press releases and carefully scripted media events, which then were recycled uncritically as 'news' in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times."

See also Michael Miner's "The Bulldog At The Gate."

*

"Within a few months after Huberman's appointment," Substance continues, "the Chicago Board of Education wasn't even reporting all of the executive level appointments Huberman was making. At the same time, Huberman continually told the press that he was opening up a new era of what he called 'transparency.' Despite Board of Education policies requiring the Huberman report all of his expensive executive level appointments on the public agendas of the Board of Education, by June 2009 a large number of those appointments were never brought before the public. Not that it would have mattered: During Huberman's term in office the Board of Education, under Michael Scott and Scott's successor, Mary Richardson Lowry, never discussed Huberman's proposals in public, and always voted unanimously for everything Huberman proposed."

See also Joravsky's "Do As We Say, Not As We Do."

*

"For the 'Chief Officer Security and Safety.' Huberman brought in Michael Shields at a salary of $150,000 per year," Substance continues. "Although Shields had police experience, his main qualifications were reportedly political connections to those now in Washington, D.C. Shields's $150,000 per year salary was $35,000 more than that of his predecessor, Andres Durbak, who had had extensive experience in the Chicago Police Department's Youth Division before retiring and taking the CPS job at a final salary (in 2008) of $115,000 per year."

That would be the Michael Shields who is Michelle Obama's cousin - and a possible candidate to become to the new police chief despite being demoted by Jody Weis.

(He's not the Michael Shields who just became president of the FOP.)

*

A knowing Gery Chico on Huberman last fall: "I thank [him] for his very strong work ethic and dedication to working on the Chicago public school system, and I'll leave it at that."

*

And let's not forget these goodies, which merely came at the end of a long line of such weirdness at CPS:

- "CPS Funds Were Spent On Bug Sweeps, Booze: Report"

- "Schools Make Up Own Rules On Grading; Sun-Times Analysis Shows Grading System Recommended By Officials Largely Ignored"

And perhaps most importantly:

- "UIC Professors: Daley's CPS 'Miracle' Smoke and Mirrors"

Unless you want to believe this.

It Doesn't Get Better
"llinois' prepaid tuition program, a 12-year-old financial plan enabling children to attend state colleges at today's prices when they have grown up, has the deepest shortfall of any such fund in the United States and is plowing money into unconventional - and some financial experts say high-risk - investments to close the gap," Crain's reports.

"The deficit of the College Illinois Prepaid Tuition Program also is far larger than the fund is declaring. Administrators recently adopted new calculations that mask its size."

Not Signing LeBron Pays Off
Bulls get dream team anyway.

Beachwood Celebrity Death Watch
Sheen, Daley, Corgan, Cutler.

New Official U.S. Language
Incomprehensible shouting.

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

Programming Note
Pulaski Day specials tonight at the Beachwood Inn, where I'm back behind the bar for Monday night festivities once again. Old Style for $2.50; $1 off bottom shelf; free pizza, Chicago Code from 8 p.m to 9 p.m.; jukebox loud and clear the rest of the time. Stop by and tell me I sent you.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Make it so.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:44 AM | Permalink

March 7, 2011

SportsMonday: Not Signing LeBron Pays Off

LeBron James signing with the Heat instead of the Bulls has worked out pretty well so far, eh?

Only a fool would attempt to compose a comprehensive chronicle of what would have happened if King James had brought his talents to Chicago. But a few conditionals are undeniable.

First, if the Bullls had signed LeBron, Derrick Rose would not have become the tremendously exciting all-around player he has become in a tremendously small amount of time.

Second, fans would have had to watch Luol Deng reach his potential with another team (in order to sign sidekick power forward Chris Bosh - which the Bulls would have done - they would have had to dump Deng and his contract).

And third, if the Bulls had signed James, they would have become the symbol of NBA excess that the vast majority of fans have so enjoyed rooting against so far this season.

Instead, the Bulls are a fan's dream:

A team with a home-grown (South Side!) star with two teammates in particular (Deng and Joakim Noah) who we have watched struggle and then start to develop and then come into their own during their Chicago run. And those guys are starting to turn the dream of a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs into reality. They now have two fewer losses than the Heat overall with about 20 games left to play.

Sunday's spine-tingling 87-86 victory over Miami doesn't mean that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James can't co-exist or that the Heat can't finish off close games. Clearly they have struggled to do so so far but there is still a ways to go. And the playoffs will be another matter entirely.

Still, one lesson attentive Bulls fans learned during the Michael Jordan era was that it is a bad idea to let players be general managers. Fans may love to hate guys like Jerry Krause but he always resisted making the personnel moves Michael wanted him to make and he was almost always right. A couple examples? Michael surely didn't want Krause to trade power forward Charles Oakley for center Bill Cartwright in the late 80s but the Bulls had to have a man in the middle who could score at least a little, and in a couple years they were on their way to their first three championships.

Around that time Michael was also agitating for the signing of fellow former Tar Heel Walter Davis as a free agent. Davis had a great run with the Phoenix Suns in the late 70s and well into the 80s but his career went off track due to recurring back injuries and other off-court difficulties, and the Bulls' decision to take a pass on bringing him was also validated by titles in 1991, '92 and '93.

Back in Miami, one element of the attempted construction of a Super Team saga that has been underplayed is that James and Dwyane Wade essentially made themselves general managers. Of course, team president Pat Riley had to find a way to make their contracts (and Bosh's) work under the salary cap. And he had to bring in rolel players who would fill in the holes in the lineup around the team's Big Three. But it was James and Wade who decided that they should be teammates. Only time will tell if putting two alpha dogs with such similar games together was the right call.

One final big picture note: In the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls still trail the Celtics by three games after the kelly green team eked out a tight victory at Milwaukee later Sunday against the undermanned Bucks (star center Andrew Bogut was sidelined).

Crying Game
Two teams (the Pacers and the Jazz) have already fired their coaches after losing to the Bulls earlier this season. The Heat had a more emotional response.

-

Speaking of Spoelstra, what is he doing coaching this team? Maybe if the Heat had a coach who, I don't know, had a game of NBA head-coaching experience (or at least more than a decade of NBA assisting, like plenty of coaches in general and Tom Thibodeau in particular) before taking the Miami job, the player-head coach dynamic might be a bit more productive.

Rose's Rose
The play in the third quarter when Derrick Rose elevated for a shot, realized he was covered and then passed to Carlos Boozer, who fired it right back to Rose before the point guard dove down the left side of the lane and then banked one in? That was one of the coolest plays of the season.

Here's that play and the rest of the highlights.

-

Rattling Deng
Missing the second free throw with 20 seconds left in the game, the one that momentarily preserved Miami's lead at that point (86-85), seemed to unnerve Mr. Deng. Noah managed to contest the rebound, tipping the ball back toward Deng, who was fouled by Mike Miller in the resulting scramble. The Heat complained bitterly about the call but the replay seemed to clearly show Miller reaching out and shoving the Bull forward.

When Deng returned to the line he looked nervous and his first free throw, which rattled around and seemed right on the verge of spinning out before dropping through, didn't seem to restore his confidence. But he stepped up and rattled in the second shot as well and the Bulls were on their way.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools chief Terry Mazany will complete his 100th day in office this week, a milestone that has him reflecting on the school district's troubles and promoting a new vision to help fix what he considers the chaotic and fractious reign of his predecessor, Ron Huberman," the Tribune reports.

"'The system was in free fall,' Mazany said of the district after Huberman's departure in November. "There was plunging morale. Vacancies in key leadership positions. A balkanized organization structure where each unit was doing their own thing. And there was a loss in a unifying vision for education.'"

Heckuva job, Ronnie.

*

"It would be a good idea for whoever is coming in to have a road map, somewhere to start, because it's a colossal mess right now," Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals Association, told the Trib. "Right now, CPS is all over the place. It's in a major state of dysfunction."

Heckuva job, Richie.

*

"Upon his appointment, Huberman immediately hired a string of cronies to top positions in the school system," Substance News reported last fall. "In every major case, Huberman's appointees received significant pay raises in comparison with the pay of their predecessors in the same jobs. One of the main distinctions of the Huberman bureaucracy was that Huberman's appointees didn't even pretend to know anything about Chicago's public schools or the work they would be required to do in them."

See also Ben Joravsky's "A Raise By Any Other Name."

*

"By the time Huberman was appointed by Daley, Chicago's media had long ago surrendered its reporting on the public schools to the Board of Education's 'Office of Communications,'" Substance continues. "Under Huberman, the Office of Communications was placed under the command of former Chicago Police Department spokesman Monique Bond, whose $130,000 per year salary topped that of her highest paid predecessor (Peter Cunningham) by more than $10,000 (when benefits are included, since Cunningham was a 'consultant' for most of his career at CPS, the costs of Bond are even greater). Bond supplied Chicago's dwindling number of education reporters with a steady supply of press releases and carefully scripted media events, which then were recycled uncritically as 'news' in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times."

See also Michael Miner's "The Bulldog At The Gate."

*

"Within a few months after Huberman's appointment," Substance continues, "the Chicago Board of Education wasn't even reporting all of the executive level appointments Huberman was making. At the same time, Huberman continually told the press that he was opening up a new era of what he called 'transparency.' Despite Board of Education policies requiring the Huberman report all of his expensive executive level appointments on the public agendas of the Board of Education, by June 2009 a large number of those appointments were never brought before the public. Not that it would have mattered: During Huberman's term in office the Board of Education, under Michael Scott and Scott's successor, Mary Richardson Lowry, never discussed Huberman's proposals in public, and always voted unanimously for everything Huberman proposed."

See also Joravsky's "Do As We Say, Not As We Do."

*

"For the 'Chief Officer Security and Safety.' Huberman brought in Michael Shields at a salary of $150,000 per year," Substance continues. "Although Shields had police experience, his main qualifications were reportedly political connections to those now in Washington, D.C. Shields's $150,000 per year salary was $35,000 more than that of his predecessor, Andres Durbak, who had had extensive experience in the Chicago Police Department's Youth Division before retiring and taking the CPS job at a final salary (in 2008) of $115,000 per year."

That would be the Michael Shields who is Michelle Obama's cousin - and a possible candidate to become to the new police chief despite being demoted by Jody Weis.

(He's not the Michael Shields who just became president of the FOP.)

*

A knowing Gery Chico on Huberman last fall: "I thank [him] for his very strong work ethic and dedication to working on the Chicago public school system, and I'll leave it at that."

*

And let's not forget these goodies, which merely came at the end of a long line of such weirdness at CPS:

- "CPS Funds Were Spent On Bug Sweeps, Booze: Report"

- "Schools Make Up Own Rules On Grading; Sun-Times Analysis Shows Grading System Recommended By Officials Largely Ignored"

And perhaps most importantly:

- "UIC Professors: Daley's CPS 'Miracle' Smoke and Mirrors"

Unless you want to believe this.

It Doesn't Get Better
"llinois' prepaid tuition program, a 12-year-old financial plan enabling children to attend state colleges at today's prices when they have grown up, has the deepest shortfall of any such fund in the United States and is plowing money into unconventional - and some financial experts say high-risk - investments to close the gap," Crain's reports.

"The deficit of the College Illinois Prepaid Tuition Program also is far larger than the fund is declaring. Administrators recently adopted new calculations that mask its size."

Not Signing LeBron Pays Off
Bulls get dream team anyway.

Beachwood Celebrity Death Watch
Sheen, Daley, Corgan, Cutler.

New Official U.S. Language
Incomprehensible shouting.

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

Programming Note
Pulaski Day specials tonight at the Beachwood Inn, where I'm back behind the bar for Monday night festivities once again. Old Style for $2.50; $1 off bottom shelf; free pizza, Chicago Code from 8 p.m to 9 p.m.; jukebox loud and clear the rest of the time. Stop by and tell me I sent you.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Make it so.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Avicii at the Mid on Saturday night.

-

2. Reba McIntire in Rosemont on Saturday night.

-

3. George Strait in Rosemont on Saturday night.

-

4. The Beatnuts at the Double Door on Saturday night.

-

5. Bilal at the Shrine on Saturday night.

-

6. Girl Talk at the Congress on Saturday night.

-

7. Glassjaw at the Metro on Friday night.

-

8. Iron and Wine at the Riv on Friday night.

-

9. Rebelution at House of Blues on Friday night.

-

10. The Pogues at the Congress on Thursday night.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:27 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Celebrity Death Watch

Odds of death in 2011 with attendant most likely cause.

Patrick Kane: 10-1. Outside the Viper Room with Miley Cyrus.

Eddie Vrdolyak: 50-1. Shanked at federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Ed Burke: 100-1. Shanked in city council anteroom just hours after Rahm takes his security detail away.

Richard M. Daley: 250-1. Fatal car accident. He hasn't driven a car since 1989.

Richard M. Daley: 500-1. Multiple contusions and skull fractures from walking into a door. He hasn't opened a door for himself since 1989.

Richard M.Daley: 500-1. Colon cancer. Hasn't wiped his own ass since 1989.

Billy Corgan: 25-1. Sheer exhaustion of being Billy Corgan.

The Chicago Code: 4-1. Low ratings.

Mr. T: 800-1. Exhaustion from 36-hour World of Warcraft marathon session. Just needed one . . . more . . . mohawk grenade to complete a quest.

Jody Weis: 500-1. Takes off running when hearing gunshots three blocks away, runs head-first into a parking meter box.

Rahm Emanuel 25-1: Head explodes trying to fight a parking ticket sent to him for Rob Halpin's car.

Pat Quinn: 100-1. Spine implant doesn't take.

Chuck Norris: 1,000,000-1. Chuck Norris.

Carlos Zambrano: 1,000-1. Beaten to death with a Gatorade cooler by an unnamed infielder.

Ozzie and Oney Guillen: 1,000-1. Accidentally just slipped and fell in the White Sox shower room, according to Kenny Williams.

Blago: 500-1. Bludgeoned in a prison cell by a tire iron that was just fucking golden.

Charlie Sheen: 5-1. Deadly mixture of Percocet, tequila and actual tiger blood.

Charlie Sheen: 30-1. Assassinated by an actual high priest Vatican assassin warlock who didn't appreciate the comparison.

Charlie Sheen: 50-1. Snorted enough cocaine for two-and-a-half men.

Jay Cutler: 400-1. Head trauma received from a ping pong accident.

Brian Urlacher: 500-1. Hell knows no fury like baby mamas scorned.

- Nick Shreders, Steve Rhodes

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:45 AM | Permalink

The Book Surgeon

"Using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, Brian Dettmer carves one page at a time. Nothing inside the out-of-date encyclopedias, medical journals, illustration books, or dictionaries is relocated or implanted, only removed . . .

"Dettmer is originally from Chicago, where he studied at Columbia College. He currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 AM | Permalink

Incomprehensible Shouting Named Official U.S. Language

Congress has deemed yelling and screaming as the nation's official mode of communication.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:48 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Now that Terry Hillard has assumed the role of John Stamos to Jody Weis's Charlie Sheen, the Weekend Desk can at last reveal the outrageous Weis story lines we never got to use.

-

The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Full of #winning.

-

Garden Variety Saturday
"A Northwest Side park which has become a hive of urban gardening activity will hold its first garden exchange today, featuring workshops on creating 'sustainable backyards,'" Curtis Black reports for the Community Media Workshop.

"The event takes place at Kilbourn Park & Organic Greenhouse, 3501 N. Kilbourn, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and raises funds to support programming for children.

"It's the Chicago Park District's only 'teaching organic greenhouse,' and it features the only public fruit tree orchard in a major city, along with a prairie garden with native wildflowers, a rain garden, and a popular community garden.

"The garden exchange will offer donated gardening and cooking supplies, tools, books and magazines at cut-rate prices. Organic compost will be for sale along with seeds for early spring plants, and a rain barrel and a composter will be raffled off."

-

The CAN TV Weekend Report

Chicago Clean Power Coalition: City Council Hearing
31026-ClaenAirOrdinance.jpg
Dave Kraft of the Nuclear Energy Information Service joins the Chicago Clean Power Coalition to hold an ad-hoc hearing at City Council chambers promoting the Clean Power Ordinance.

Sunday, March 6 at 10:00 a.m. on CAN TV21

Click here to watch video online

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Chicago's Gangs
31022-Gangs.jpg
The Society of Midland Authors hosts author John Hagedorn and panel of fellow writers to discuss Chicago's gangs.

Sunday, March 6 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
53 min

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Press Conference on Immigrants Rights March and Liberation Square
31033-PressConf-10demarzo.jpg
Activist Jesus Guillen joins a coalition of immigrant rights advocates in a press conference announcing a mass mobilization for immigrant justice on March 10th.

Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:06 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. "There is only one determining factor in the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer - can the city of Glendale sell $116 million in bonds to finance the purchase of the team?" Gary Lawless writes for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Who is Matthew Hulsizer?

"Hulsizer grew up in New Jersey and calls himself a hockey fan, player, and coach. He actually played hockey at Division III Amherst College and is currently a registered USA Hockey coach in Winnetka, Illinois," Business Insider reports.

"Hulsizer is currently the co-founder and CEO of Peak6 Investment, a private money management firm. He previously worked as a director and risk manager for Swiss Bank, a global financial-services corporation and as a senior trader for O'Connor & Associate, a proprietary derivatives trading firm.

"O'Connor & Associates had a reputation as 'the biggest securities firm no one had ever heard of' and was notorious for extreme privacy. The Chicago Tribune reports that the firm was so secretive that it destroyed the boxes its computers arrived in so competitors wouldn't know what technology the firm was using."

2. "A nearly 34-foot-tall religious statue that has traveled around the Chicago area for years will find a permanent home in northwestern Indiana next month," AP reports.

That would be Carl Demma's Mighty Metal Madonna.

3. "Popular blogging platform WordPress was hit by a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack yesterday, downing thousands of blogs," TG Daily reports.

"The attack involved tens of millions of packets per second and lasted for about two hours, according to a statement on parent company Automattic's status page. Some users said the site had been running unusually slowly for as long as three days.

"The attack hit all three of the company's data centers in Chicago, San Antonio and Dallas. The company responded by switching blogs into read-only mode while it fought the problem."

4. Built in Chicago . . . but lured to Cincinnati.

5. "New Stem Cell Discovery Could Reverse Alzheimer's."

Yes, but can it cure Fedheimer's?

6. "The Professional Bull Riders Inc. will hold its first invitational in Chicago with top riders, including Dustin Elliott, Skeeter Kingsolver, Luke Snyder and Cody Nance, riding ornery bulls for what seems like the longest eight seconds on Earth," the Tribune reports.

7. "Chicago Officer Detained By Fellow Cops Wins False-Arrest Suit."

8. "The iconic Mr. Clean will be visiting Chicago's Union Station this weekend to offer free products to commuters," the Examiner reports. "All shoppers will receive a free product and have the opportunity to take a fun photo with Mr. Clean in an exotic destination to remember their visit."

9. It takes one to know one.

10. The Week in Chicago Rock.

11. The Week in WTF.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Spending the night is optional.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Cage The Elephant at the Vic on Wednesday night.


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2. The XIth Hour at the Metro on Sunday night.

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3. Plain White T's at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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4. In Like Flynn at the Metro on Sunday night.

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5. Veil Of Maya at Martyr's on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:20 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. For A Better Chicago, WTF?

If a political muscleman is what Chicago wanted, then Hizzoner-Elect is a rippling mass of striated sinew.

Secret donors embodied a PAC called For A Better Chicago are packing enough wallet wallop to easily make the new Rahm the same as the Old Daley. Control the aldermen, control the city. Money is control.

Emanuel now (cleverly) says he wants the donors identified while knowing there is no reason they'd want to do that.

It's just money and power and taking. There is an innate ugliness because the politics of Chicago are intrinsically greedy. A profound insight, n'est-ce pas?

Here's the preposterous cover story. Says Ald. Freddrenna Lyle who got some of the secret influence-peddling cash: "I really didn't know what their agenda was . . . I have since heard it was pro-business." But she took the money.

Said the Trib: "Lyle . . . said it is a good thing that most of the donations are anonymous because it removes even the appearance that candidates who receive the group's money will feel indebted to individual contributors."

That would be true if nobody knew who wrote the checks or givers didn't want anything in return. WTF.

2. Northwestern, WTF?

Something tells me that mom and dad didn't expect this when they sent their teens to study in Evanston. But all is not what it seems. WTF believes this was a complicated electrical engineering research experiment.

First, do alkaline batteries last longer in vibrators than whatever the other kind there are? Is stamina why they call him the Energizer Bunny? Does Duracell buzz off at prematurely? And does AC Delco get better mileage?

Sure, we don't like this anymore than you do, but it's mankind's quest for scientific knowledge. We have a duty.

3. Rahm's Transition, WTF?

Carol Marin poses the cliched presumption that Emanuel, being a great orchestrator and arm-twister, will apply the same successful panache to his transition team-building that he did for President Obama. Seeking the "best and brightest" and other Kennedyesque echoes.

The problem is that Obama's record on filling senior watchdog positions in the federal government has been tepid at best.

Filling federal judicial posts has been equally lax. Few institutions give a president more far-reaching or permanent influence.

And an inability to plug open spots on the Federal Reserve has gummed up monetary policy.

Perhaps forming the government wasn't Emanuel's specific assignment, but he was required to make the administration function. We'll concede Emanuel had a few other tasks to consider during his time as Obama's chief of staff (two wars and Supreme Court nominees) but efficiency in building a government didn't seem high on his priority list. Maybe Emanuel will hire someone who knows how.

4. Pope Benny, WTF?

If His Holiness hadn't told us, we'd never have known the truth about that crucifixion thing. In case you hadn't heard, he says it wasn't the Jews' fault. What a relief. In his next theological treatise, he will prove that black people actually can swim and not all Italians talk like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

5. Existential Cal Ripken, WTF?

The WTF night crew had a Fellini moment this week. Pumping nearly $4 a gallon and facing a miserable cold wind, we look up to see a small TV screen over the pump. On it, Cal Ripken (yes, Mr. 2,131 Consecutive Games Ripken, the Ultimate American Working Man Ripken) is being interviewed by a young interview person who did not appear to have been born when Ripken started his career in 1981. She asked him to explain his advice for "making it" in this world, and Cal replies, "You can't take shortcuts to success" or some similar profundity.

Cal Ripken, ultimate American Man, is now reduced to being a spokesman for Hallmark platitudes while the pump clicks off $3.75 a gallon gas.

If that isn't a WTF moment, we don't know what is.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Brandon Clark:

I feel that Northwestern's recent "sex scandal" illustrates perfectly the decreasing quality of serious journalism. It's no secret that there are abundant signs of this trend, but this is the first time I've felt the Beachwood Reporter came down on the wrong side of the trendline; hence my e-mail. Perhaps, I missed your intent - clearly the WTF articles are satirical, but I would have expected you to point your barb at this issue from another angle.

While I have come to expect sharp and precise criticism of the decline of journalist standards from the Beachwood Reporter, in this case your flippant remarks questioning the judgment of the professor, rather than the mindless, salacious reporting of the event fell short of your typically high standards.

After wading through all the typical Puritanical displeasure regarding the subject matter, it seems to me that the demonstration was germane to the class. Perhaps, the adults that enrolled in the class, and chose to attend the optional lecture were interested in the subject matter. The vocal group questioning the judgment of the professor, seem to me to be as much against the study of human sexuality as they are against any specific display thereof.

Ask yourself this, if the professor of a class on film history screened Triumph of the Will for their class, would anyone care? Is this not also a blatant display of something a little uncomfortable about the human experience, which we'd rather not talk about and, at the same time, is rather offense to some?

This rare exception (IMO) aside, please keep up your excellent work. I greatly value and appreciate your work.

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Editor's Note: For another interesting take on this issue, see Whet Moser's "Northwestern Sex Toy Story, or, Why I Read Feminist Blogs"


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:37 AM | Permalink

March 3, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"You have the Riv, you have Aragon, you have Double Door," Rahm Emanuel told an unquestioning Thomas Conner of the Sun-Times Lin Brehmer and Mary Dixon of WXRT. "We have a downtown theater district. Should there be an Uptown music district, given our history with labels as well as the club scene, which is truly, truly unique around the country?"

Um, the Double Door isn't in Uptown. Not even close. It's in Wicker Park.

*

And if Conner Brehmer and Dixon had been on the ball, he they would have realized he they had the perfect opening to ask about his ties to Ticketmaster/Live Nation.

After all, who do you think might end up making out if a music district proposed by Rahm came to fruition?

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NOTE: Apologies to Thomas Conner, I read the story too quickly and didn't realize he was quoting from an 'XRT interview.

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And for a much better review of the proceedings, check out Jim DeRogatis's post.

The Problem With @MayorEmanuel
It obscured more truths than it revealed.

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I wonder what Dan Sinker thinks about this. Perhaps Quaxelrod will let us know.

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From the Tribune: "A secretly funded political group aligned with Rahm Emanuel has donated more than $445,000 to aldermanic candidates to help the mayor-elect in a high-stakes battle over control of City Hall.

"Emanuel publicly steered clear of all but a few City Council races on his way to an overwhelming victory last week. At the same time, the group led by his former campaign manager was showering money on aldermanic candidates whose support Emanuel needs to push his agenda."

So I guess when Rahm said a rubber-stamp city council was "unacceptable" meant that they shouldn't even get to have stamps anymore.

Tweet Deck
"My alma mater has a #fucksaw. Your move, UChicago. #Northwestern http://goo.gl/9MfY8"

- Eric Slepak

Perfect For Northwestern Students
"Upscale Hotels Flirt With Hourly Rates."

Extra Credit
Northwestern gives new meaning to the phrase "after-school special."

*

If Northwestern students are so smart, why do they still need sex education?

Fox Block
"A Chicago man was ticketed for allegedly disconnecting extension cords for cameras and lights on a Fox News truck on the Capitol Square Tuesday," the Madison, Wisconsin, Capitol Times reports.

"Dan Edelstein, 23, was cited for disorderly conduct by Madison police after he allegedly yanked the cords from the outlets on the outside of the Fox News truck at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, police said."

Bob Probert's Broken Brain
The life and death of a goon.

Explaining Chicago's Population Loss
Federal witness relocation program partly to blame.

Remembering Diane Izzo
Losing one of our most extraordinary songwriters.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Orgasmatronic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

The Problem With @MayorEmanuel

Dan Sinker meeting Rahm Emanuel yesterday was a bit like a local version of Elvis Presley meeting Richard Nixon: A WTF moment for the history books.

But it also illustrated just what was wrong with Sinker's sometimes brilliant, sometimes predictable, sometimes vulgar, sometimes prescient fake Twitter feed: It was all the time sympathetic to its "target."

Sinker merely burnished the myth of a foul-mouthed pragmatist with little patience for pageantry who just wanted to "get things done" instead of doing what truly effective political satire does: reveal the truths behind the propaganda and manufactured media narratives.

Rahm Emanuel is a nasty man, but not as charmingly so as Sinker portrayed him. He and his buddy David Axelrod are kings of media manipulation, not doltish road trip buddies cranking Journey in Ax's Civic.

And that's why Jim DeRogatis's criticism of Sinker is valid, despite the rush of fanboys and fangirls rushing to Sinker's defense. It seems a whole lot of people have forgotten what this is all about - we live in a city decimated by poverty that has failed its most needy as well as its middle-class and we just had a campaign in which the winner did everything he could not to talk about those sorts of things - or anything.

But a lot of comfortable folks sure got a good laugh out of a Twitter feed not available to 40 percent of the city on the other side of the digital divide.

Meanwhile, real reporting about Emanuel's rich record was largely absent. That goes to the heart of DeRogatis's complaint, and I concur.

*

"In the end, you might as well have endorsed the guy," DeRogatis writes in "Dan Sinker: You Call This The New Journalism?"

It's not that DeRogatis doesn't have a sense of humor, though most examples of Sinker's tweets repeated in the press the last few months are his most exceedingly unfunny ones.

"Sure, we all laughed at the gloriously inane, poetically obscene Tweets," DeRogatis writes. "[But] this is what all those years of serious and sometimes groundbreaking investigative stories, interviews, commentaries, and chats with Noam Chomsky in Punk Planet have come to: conspiring with a celebrity politician to make him look 'even cooler' than his already immaculately crafted image, and to hell with that sticky, troublesome business of digging, probing, exposing, and reporting?"

To bolster his argument, DeRogatis cites one of Sinker's journalism students telling the Tribune that "I would have voted for [Emanuel] just because of that fake Twitter account."

*

"Harsh?" DeRogatis writes. "Heck, yeah! But Sinker just popped up as the lead story on Monday's 9 p.m. Fox newscast, cheerfully being interviewed in his living room and providing 'B roll' of himself sitting there typing away on his Apple laptop, and the piece ended with him bragging about how he's eager to meet the mayor-elect, at Emanuel's request, some time in the next few days. Said Sinker (paraphrasing here but the quote is almost exact): I really just want to say 'hi.'"

Unlike many reporters on the campaign trail - and off it - Sinker was granted some face time with Emanuel that provided the incoming mayor with yet another invaluable photo op showing what a great guy he was. Apparently Sinker didn't mind being a prop.

From the Tribune's account:

"Hi, honey, I'm home,' the mayor-elect said as he extended his hand to Dan Sinker, the 36-year-old Columbia College journalism assistant professor whose @MayorEmanuel Twitter account became an online sensation before its anonymous author sent his protagonist into the cosmos the day after Emanuel was elected mayor. "Relax, man."

"I am so not relaxed," Sinker said with a laugh, the cheeks above his pointy salt-and-pepper beard having turned beet-red.

"You have tenure," Emanuel quipped. "Don't worry about it. I already called it in."

Ha ha ha! I'm glad everyone's having such a great time.

I would have preferred, though, if Sinker had thought of something, um, journalistic to say. After all, he's a journalism professor. He might have asked Rahm, for example, why he refuses to answer DeRogatis's questions about his ties to Ticketmaster/Live Nation.

Or how he could possibly morally justify not realigning police beats so cops are assigned to where the crime is occurring.

Or about the Chicago Reporter's findings that 56 percent of the African-American population in our fair city is out of work.

Or if he's interested in learning who hired Angelo Torres; or if he thinks Richard M. Daley is responsible in any way for Jon Burge.

Or about the findings - overshadowed by news of a fake Twitter author being revealed - of his Columbia colleagues that "Of the $1.2 billion designated for private sector projects since 2000, nearly half was earmarked for some of the area's most profitable corporations."

Instead, Sinker yukked it up with one of the most shadowy political operators of our time.

Emanuel offered career advice to Sinker, noting that the Twitter feed "$#*! My Dad Says" became a book and TV series. "I want you to think larger and bigger for yourself," Emanuel said. He also referenced his brother, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment CEO Ari Emanuel: "I have an agent for you in Hollywood so I can get my $5,000 back."

Afterward, the TV cameras surrounded the mayor-elect in the hallway while Sinker slipped quietly into the green room and exhaled. Was this how he envisioned his meeting with the actual Emanuel?

"He was funnier than I expected," Sinker said.

Yay! Go Rahm! Such a funny guy.

*

Those defending Sinker from DeRogatis's attack are bundled up in contradictions - and depressing notions of what constitutes journalism. Here, for example, is a representative sampling of the comments they left on DeRogatis's blog.

anonymous: Dan isn't trying to be a 'hard hitting journalist' he is trying to be funny. The reality is that he was very funny and many people enjoyed what he did with @MayorEmanuel. As for your "hard hitting" questions about Emanuel's connections to businesses, his background dodginess, and all round eyebrow raising connections you can look no further. He is part of the Machine, maybe you have heard of it? You seriously expect the Machine to respond to your questions? Maybe you live in some alternate universe version of Chicago?

In other words, why practice journalism at all? Let's all just sit back and enjoy the show. It's no use trying to report.

cc: Dude, really? Lighten up. This guy taught us to remember to enjoy ourselves while watching the circus. And since when is satire not considered a valid form of journalism?

Yes, we often forget to enjoy ourselves watching the circus. You know, the circus that determines if some people have something to eat, a place to sleep, medical care and safety from gangs and guns. C'mon, lighten up! It's just an election! Plus, Sinker was performing journalism!

Emily Culbertson: Dan did not sit out this election as a journalist. He created the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard, which aggregated the latest news, cash, polling and social media content for all of the candidates. It may not be what you want out of journalism for a mayor's race, but it *is* journalism, and to double down on Dan's lack of effort towards the mayor's race without mentioning it is unfair. Check it out here:
http://www.chicagomayoralscorecard.com/

I checked it out and I fail to see how it is even remotely useful. Aggregation can be part of journalism, but it isn't journalism per se.

*

And then the "professionals" weighed in.

"DeRogatis does Sinker a disservice to ignore his other projects, like CellStories.net, where he posts a different fictional tale daily, to be read on mobile devices," the A.V. Club's Marah Eakin writes. "Sinker is not, as that commenter points out, one thing only - a journalist - any more than the rest of us are defined by our jobs alone."

First, delivering fiction to cell phones isn't journalism either. Second, when you are a journalist you are always a journalist. You aren't allowed to go home at the end of the day and, for example, work for a campaign - or even contribute to one.

"[T]hat Twitter account," Eakin continues, "proved that this city does have a sense of humor about itself. Chicagoans aren't constantly jealous of New York or crying over the Cubs. We like beer and jokes and think our pizza's pretty great. We're also ridiculous as a city sometimes with our corruption and faults and silly Blagojeviches. We know it, and that's totally okay."

Dan Sinker proved "we" have a sense of humor! We think our pizza's pretty great.

I guess we think our Rahm is pretty great too.

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Michael Miner's blog post in the Reader is even more bizarre.

"Because there is the Internet, more gets written than should be," he begins.

What? I didn't know there were limits on how much expression ought to be allowed.

"Jim DeRogatis's critique of MayorEmanuel has the earmarks of a topic of the day addressed out of obligation by someone with a blog to feed."

It does? DeRogatis was just trying to meet a quota? Doubtful.

"DeRogatis cooked up an argument that I doubt he'll remember himself later this week."

Now you're just projecting, Michael.

I have no doubt that DeRogatis's argument was heartfelt; he's a former investigative reporter who has a passion for journalism and an interest in its future. Not so sure I can say the same anymore for Miner.

"DeRogatis took the tack that a serious journalist had sunk to shameful depths. He marveled, 'This is what all those years of serious and sometimes groundbreaking investigative stories, interviews, commentaries, and chats with Noam Chomsky in Punk Planet have come to: conspiring with a celebrity politician to make him look 'even cooler' than his already immaculately crafted image, and to hell with that sticky, troublesome business of digging, probing, exposing, and reporting?'

"This is what Sinker's career has come to? Imagine Superman, after saving the world all day, flying home to his Fortress of Solitude and taking a leak. Is that leak, that mindless micturation, what his day has come to? 'Not exactly,' Superman might explain, 'but it was a pleasure.'"

That analogy would only hold true if Superman came home from a day saving the world from Urine Man, whose evil designs were fueled by the properties he distilled from Superman's urine.

DeRogatis's larger point, it seems to me, is that Sinker was aiding and abetting the manufactured consent of Rahm Emanuel as our next mayor.

*

Alex Parker also weighed in for the Reader, calling Sinker's tweets "vital political satire."

Vital? Hardly. Satire? Not so much in my book. True satire exposes truths through humor. What truths were exposed by Sinker? That Rahm swears a lot?

"Sinker's use of @mayoremanuel doesn't disqualify it from being a vital part of public discourse," Parker continues.

So now I'm confused. First, we're not to take it seriously; it's not journalism, it's just entertainment. Now it's a vital part of our public discourse. Which is it? And in what way does it contribute to the discourse?

I wish Sinker's defenders would just say they found his project funny but never really thought about its political implications.

*

How over-the-top has the media coverage of @MayorEmanuel been?

"It ended a mystery as baffling and tantalizing to some Chicago journalists and political insiders as the identity of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's 'Deep Throat' had been to Watergate junkies a generation ago," Robert Feder writes at his Time Out Chicago blog.

That preposterous line seems to bolster two points I see in DeRogatis's argument. First, the problem isn't just Sinker's but the behavior of the media; indeed, it seems the local media hordes have been far more aggressive trying to score their own interview with Sinker as it ever was trying to get a straight answer about what Rahm did when he was on the board of Freddie Mac or how the Exelon merger he helped arrange for a fee of millions was good for consumers. (And, as DeRogatis points out, Sinker has gotten more media attention by far than Miguel del Valle ever did.)

Even the Tribune editorial board got behind @MayorEmanuel, despite the massive quantity of such un-Tribune-editorial-board-like tweets such as "Hey Chico, I would rather be endorsed by Ed Burke's cum rag than anyone connected with the motherfucking Chicago Public Schools" and "Fucking cum-fisted douche faucets."

Second, there seems to be an awful lot of confusion about just what constitutes journalism.

Take WGN-AM's Greg Jarrett (please). While interviewing DeRogatis on Wednesday, the utterly unserious Jarrett asked why DeRogatis couldn't "just do journalism your way and let him do it his way."

And which way would that be, exactly?

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Even if Sinker's project was as groundbreaking as the giddy media says - and I doubt it is - it's not groundbreaking journalism; it's groundbreaking use of a social media tool. Not the same thing. Unfortunately, no one seems much interested in groundbreaking journalism these days. Instead, delivering fiction to cellphones is all the rage.

There was a nice piece of groundbreaking journalism that occurred during the campaign, however, while everyone was being distracted by talking ducks: Rebecca Zorach's Rahm Emanuel Notebook told us more about our new leader in each individual post than Sinker ever did.

Sure, she didn't have a Quaxelrod, but no one's perfect.

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And if you want to see an example of true satire that works, go back and take a look at Chicagoans For Rio (if you can find it; link no longer works but it must be somewhere).

You can beat creator Kevin Lynch wasn't welcome for a photo op with Richard M. Daley.

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Finally, Lill McGill sent me this word cloud of @MayorEmanuel: Case closed.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Bob Probert's Broken Brain

"For 16 seasons, Bob Probert's fists were two of hockey's most notorious weapons, winning most of his 246 fights and feeding the N.H.L.'s fondness for bare-knuckle brawling," the New York Times reports.

"But the legacy of Probert, who died last July of heart failure at 45, could soon be rooted as much in his head as his hands. After examining Probert's brain tissue, researchers at Boston University said this week that they found the same degenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, whose presence in more than 20 deceased professional football players has prompted the National Football League to change some rules and policies in an effort to limit dangerous head impacts."

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Probert's fights.

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From Probert's book, Tough Guy: My Life On The Edge, which lists every fight he had in the NHL:

"Tie Domi was a little fucker, and I figured, 'Why not?' You know? I didn't have to fight him, but I said, 'Aw fuck, let's go. Give him a chance for the hell of it, eh?'

He was saying to me, 'Come on, Bob, Macho Man wants a shot at the title.' He called himself Macho Man, like the big-time wrestler. I said, 'Ah, you little fucker, okay, come on!' He got lucky when he grazed me and I got cut just above the eye. He didn't really hit me, just wandered through with a left. It didn't even hurt or anything. Whole thing only lasted about thirty seconds because the refs jumped in before the fight really got going. So he skates to the box and he pretends like he's putting on the heavyweight championship belt, a hot-dog move.

"Later, the coach, Bryan Murray, asked me, 'What the fuck are you wasting your time with that little goofball Domi for? You've got nothing to prove.'

"'Aw fuck,' I said, 'I gave him a shot.'

"Murray said, 'Bob, you should know better.'

"Yeah, I fought. I think that helped me make it into the league, because they saw that I could play and also fight - do both. It's kind of a rarity in today's game. Guys who can do both now sign big contracts. I wish I was playing today. Not just as far as money - I was happy.

"A lot of people are down on fighting in the NHL. They say it doesn't belong in the game. But like Don Cherry says, 'When Probert was fighting, did you ever see anyone get out of their seat and go for coffee?'"

*

"The young kids were still coming after me - fast and furious. But nothing beats experience. If I grabbed a guy with my arm out, he couldn't really hit me, unless he had a long reach. Another important thing was being able to take a punch. I had to sacrifice a couple to the head and body sometimes to get to the position I needed to be in. But then I could take it from there."

*

"The most fights I had in a season was twenty-three. That was in 1987-88. There were eighty games in a season, so that was roughly one every four games. And that's like a high season. My average was probably around twenty, and then one year, including playoffs, I had maybe twenty-eight fights."

*

From veteran hockey writer Joe Lapointe, on AOL:

"As a Red Wing, Probert was a cult figure for a franchise just beginning to build a hockey powerhouse after two decades of mismanagement. Fans nicknamed Probert and Joey Kocur 'The Bruise Brothers;'' they were a tag-team act in a sport that sanctions fights as a quasi-legal side show. To games at Joe Louis Arena, fans wore T-shirts that showed a red cross and the words: 'Give Blood, Fight Probie.' Before the Internet and YouTube, Probert's fight tapes were prized among traders of bootleg videos, suitable for bachelor parties or fraternity houses. Perhaps the most memorable can be found through Internet search engines as 'Hockey Fight: Probert vs Domi Rematch.''

"It was his second bout with Tie Domi of the New York Rangers, staged in December of 1992 at Madison Square Garden, that old boxing mecca. The video shows Probert throwing about 45 punches in about 45 seconds, most of them right hands and many of them landing. The replay right afterward shows Steve Yzerman - then the Wings captain, now the general manager of Tampa Bay - mocking Domi by pretending to put on the heavyweight championship belt that Domi had claimed in a prior battle. In the big scheme of hockey's vigilante justice, Probert was there to protect the superstar Yzerman; and Yzerman was honoring his teammate and his role.

"One of the Big Myths in sports spread by the media is that 'hockey goons are really the nicest guys in sports.'' A few may indeed be friendly, but the role often attracts large, violent young men from disturbed homes who channel their aggression into a sub-genre of a sport for personal profit and public amusement. When they are used up, like all athletes, they are cast aside."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 AM | Permalink

Explaining Chicago's Population Loss

The Census Bureau recently released data showing that Chicago's population in the last decade fell to levels not seen since the 1920s. Why did so many people leave Chicago in the last 10 years? We think we know why.

* They saw Rahm Emanuel coming.

* They ran out of furniture to use for Dibs.

* They were offered more for their votes in the suburbs.

* Wanted to be closer to suburban meth labs.

* Subway footlongs are only $4 in the suburbs.

* They knew too much.

* Losing the name Marshall Field's was the last straw.

* Were no longer feeling particularly welcome in Chicago.

* Wanted to send children to schools that had books.

* Were all part of the federal witness relocation program.

* They ascended to heaven; the rest of us have been Left Behind.

* Bartman.

* The Daley Administration told them to.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:40 AM | Permalink

Remembering Diane Izzo

"Diane Izzo debuted in 1999 with one of the best singer-songwriter albums ever out of Chicago, One," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune. "She never officially followed it up, though she continued to record prolifically and was working on an ambitious movie project when she died Friday of cancer in Albuquerque, N.M."

See also: "When Diane Izzo's debut album, One, arrived in 1999, I said it marked 'the arrival of one of the most breathtaking young singer-songwriters to emerge out of Chicago in recent years.'"

*

"There have been a million angry kiss-off songs written throughout rock history," Jim DeRogatis wrote when he reviewed One. "In 1999 it takes a strong voice to put a unique spin on the form, but it's one of several impressive feats by Chicago singer-songwriter Diane Izzo on her debut album One.

"Partly Izzo accomplishes this via the poetic touches in the lyrics of her story-songs. 'Once upon the ship you waved back to all your subjects/Shooting from your hip and your gorgeous death trap,' she sings of a self-inflated amour in 'The Real One.' Even more impressively, Izzo cycles through a wide range of emotions - anger, pain, pride and defiance - while somehow making a powerful hook out of the tune's short but emphatic kicker: 'Now you're gone, and to me you're done.'"

*

"Diane released an extraordinary album in 1999 called One," Marc Campbell writes at Dangerous Minds. "It should have brought her the kind of attention bestowed upon Patti Smith and PJ Harvey. But it was not to be. She retreated from the music scene and ultimately ended up in Taos where she took care of a ranch that once housed Aldous Huxley. But she was still determined to make her mark musically and in film. At the time of her death, she was working on a film project with [her partner] Marco, Black & Gold, which provides an inspiring glimpse of the magic that Diane was still conjuring in the last year of her life."

*

One.

*

1. Oh Death.

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2. Horse of Diana.

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3. Black & Gold.

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More tracks at Izzo's MySpace page.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:59 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. "Chicago Code Is On The Ropes."

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"The show has also inspired at least one tavern viewing locally. At the Beachwood Inn in Wicker Park, at 8 p.m. Mondays the TV is tuned to Fox, and patrons reportedly play a drinking game that involves, for instance, taking a swig each time 'Irish mob' is mentioned."

Yeah, but we're thinking about dedicating Monday nights to Charlie Sheen from here on out.

2. Beachwood vs. Sun-Times.

3. "Rahm Emanuel has grabbed a slice of Chicago history," Chuck Goudie reports. "A small slice.

"The number of votes he received is a modern city election record . . . for its petite size.

"The last time a Chicago mayor won with fewer votes was 1919, when city news was dominated by a baseball scandal known as 'The Black Sox.'"

4. "This is to say: Really, Dan?" Jim DeRogatis writes about Dan Sinker's @MayorEmanuel. "This one-note joke was your way to demonstrate the power of journalism's new tools and comment on an issue as vitally important as the race for the next mayor of Chicago?

"Go ahead, stick with the story that it all was just a little joke that grew and grew. In the end, you might as well have endorsed the guy: "I would have voted for [Emanuel] just because of that fake Twitter account," one of Sinker's journalism students told the Tribune.

"This is what all those years of serious and sometimes groundbreaking investigative stories, interviews, commentaries, and chats with Noam Chomsky in Punk Planet have come to: conspiring with a celebrity politician to make him look 'even cooler' than his already immaculately crafted image, and to hell with that sticky, troublesome business of digging, probing, exposing, and reporting?"

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DeRogatis is right and many of his critical commenters are wrong and telling you why is one of the many things I hope to accomplish before the week is out.

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P.S. I hope Sinker directs his students to this. Does it have anything to do with new digital tools? You bet it does, if journalism and not delivery systems is the point. I use Amazon's "Search Inside The Book" feature to assist in the research, as well as Google's similar book search function.

It's not the glitzy tech stuff that delivers the goods, it's the tools that help journalists add to their reporting in ways not possible in the analog world. One day I hope a helluva lot more people - including funders like our local foundations, national players like Knight, venture capitalists and techies themselves - realize that and shift their focus to moving journalism itself forward.

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Another example: Why review a concert the old-fashioned way when you can show readers actual video to accompany your assessment?

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Similarly, no matter how hard music writers try, it's impossible to learn from their prose jsut how a record or song sounds. But now you can include audio clips. And that changes the narrative structure of how you write a review. Now you can say, "Here's the magic moment in the song where the unexpected guitar wail comes in - but it's not a guitar, it's a synthesizer," for example, and place the clip there. Or write, "Listen here to how his voice breaks," and place the clip there.

Even regular ol' links themselves change the structure of how stories are - or ought to be - written. Going further, ProPublica is one of the best at using links, documents and visual data for its stories.

This is what it's about - not fake Twitter accounts and delivering fiction to cellphones and writing stories the old-fashioned way like, say, the Chicago News Cooperative, and thinking that because those stories are placed online that somehow you are being digital.

But what do I know. Everyone else is getting the money, not me. I must not know what I'm talking about.

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Disclaimer: I was once under consideration for the job Sinker now holds; the pieces didn't really fit together right for me or Columbia. I bear no ill will; in fact, I was a great fan of Punk Planet.

5. Our media: Those willing to go along with powerful people manipulating the news get promoted.

People like me not so much.

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By the way, NBC Chicago did it again. The station posted Edward McClelland's endorsement of Gery Chico (preserved here) and then took it down. McClelland woudn't tell me why. Maybe he's hoping for a promotion.

6. A resident of the 3200 block of Cuyler Avenue reported that he received a check in the mail for $20,000 from a Chicago resident looking to buy a house he is selling," Berwyn Life reports. "The owner was closing on the house Tuesday, but he planned to sell the home to a different person.

"Along with the check, the owner received a letter stating, 'The property in your possession is in need for the kingdom. The Lord, thy God, is sending his children to claim this property.'

"According to police records, the letter he received Thursday was the second such check he had been sent from the same person. Police records also indicate that the check was from a legitimate Chase Bank account.

"The matter has been referred to the Berwyn detective's department for investigation."

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Apology to Berwyn Life: I don't like to lift entire stories, but this was all there was to it. Please follow the link anyway and give them some traffic to help me atone for my sin.

7. The day Bill Ayers bombed the U.S. Capitol.

8. Cubs and Sox missing from Top 10 Pitchers list.

9. Sonic's new Chicago hot dog just $1.99.

10. Teach your students a real lesson and ask Rahm if he's willing to do a forensic audit to discover who hired Angelo Torres.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A different kind of twitterverse.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Sonic's New Hot Dogs Just $1.99 Each

Including a Chicago version.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

Anniversary Replay: The Weather Underground Capitol Building Bombing

"40 years ago [Tuesday], the Weather Underground blew the living fuck out of the pisser at the Capital Building. No one shit themselves or pissed themselves or were harmed in any way, shape, form or fashion. However, it was just the beginning of a long line of direct action protest demonstrations then eventually ended in tragedy for members in the forms of death and imprisonment. It did not end the Vietnam conflict, but it did gain awareness and achieved the objective of agitating the public into further research on many important social issues.

"I do not personally condone or defend the acts of the Weather Underground, but I do feel that they deserve serious critical analysis and attention."

More . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

In Action: Lady Gaga at the United Center

"'It's raining unicorns and gay teddy bears,' Lady Gaga said Monday at the sold-out United Center as the audience hurled gifts at her," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune. "Then she bit the heads off several dolls, but allowed a mini-Paul Stanley to live another day and watch the show from the lip of the stage. Kiss, and Kiss-style spectacle, still rules in the Land of Gaga.

"The singer appreciates the circus of performing, and has turned herself into the pop world's most incisive commentator on its seductions and pitfalls. Every eye-catching moment had a few more layers to it that made this 100-minute performance something more than just a collection of stunts."

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"Lady Gaga brought her Monster Ball Tour to the United Center for a sold-out show Monday night, in the process proving that if she's not Madonna's equal as a singer or dancer, she just might rival her as a conceptual pop artist," Ted Cox writes for the Daily Herald.

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Highlights.

1. What is the Monster Ball?

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2. Find your Jesus, find your Kubrick.

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3. Rub that glitter and grease around.

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4. Control your poison, babe.

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5. Pornographic dance fight.

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6. Bust that stick.

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7. It's raining dead Barbies.

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8. I cannot text you with a drink in my hand.

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9. Something about my cool Nebraska guy.

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10. Don't call my name, don't call my name.

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11. "soccer4eva6: Lady Gaga PLEASE tell me if you read it!!!!!! This was mine and my best friend Kasey's Letters stapled together WE LOVE YOU If anyone can help me get this to Lady Gaga PLEASE HELPPPPP"

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12. I'm bluffin' with my muffin.

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13. Chase you down until you love me.

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14. I want your love, I don't wanna be friends.

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15. Don't hide yourself in regret.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Wrongway Wainwright, Doc and The Freak

I had my pre-draft fantasy starting pitchers rankings all set until the season-canceling injury suffered by Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis.

I thought the 20-game winner in 2010 had a chance to be even better in 2011, and I would have put him right under Roy "Doc" Halladay as my No. 2 SP pick.

With the injury, everyone moves up a spot, meaning Tim "The Freak" Lincecum is now No. 2, a ranking I'm not sure I'm fully invested in. I don't see him as a 20-game winner, and his ERA ballooned last year to 3.48, while his strikeouts declined. Here's my new top 10.

1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia.

Can he do better than 21 wins, 9 complete games and a 2.44 ERA? Maybe.

2. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco.

If he hits 261 strikeouts like in 2009 (231 last year), he'll be worth it.

3. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia.

Many people think Philly has two 20-win starters. I'll say 17 after his rocky 2010.

4. Jon Lester, Boston.

A quiet 19-game winner last year. Prediction for 2011: 22 wins, 250 strikeouts.

5. Felix Hernandez, Seattle.

Needs to win more to get a higher ranking. Despite ERA, it won't be this year.

6. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles.

Could challenge Lincecum for NL strikeout lead if he adds innings.

7. Josh Johnson, Florida.

Most consistent ERA value in the NL, but Marlins need to help him win more.

8. David Price, Tampa.

19 wins last year and still improving. This year's goal: Clear the 200 strikeout mark.

9. CC Sabathia, NY Yankees.

Won 21 last year when drop-off was expected. Weight loss should help.

10. Zack Greinke, Milwaukee.

His talent says he's No. 10, but Milwaukee looks a lot like K.C. to me.

Trade War
All was quiet on the NBA trade deadline front until New York actually pulled the trigger on the Carmelo Anthony trade. Then, it seemed like all hell broke loose.

Deron Williams went to New Jersey, Kendrick Perkins went to Oklahoma City, Gerald Wallace went to Portland, Baron Davis seemed destined for Cleveland, Shane Battier got shipped to Memphis.

It went from being the most boring trading deadline ever to one of the most exciting.

The strange thing from a fantasy perspective is that I don't think any of these players will see their numbers change much. But stay tuned, and we'll keep a look out for any stat shifts.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

March 1, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Blagojevich now trying to influence not only upcoming jury pool but potential jurors, judges, reporters of the future and/or children of important people.

2. Paralyzed high school athlete outlives his health insurance.

3. "Ryan said the state's flawed capital justice system first drew his attention a few months after taking office in 1999 when he watched a TV news report about the release of Anthony Porter, who had spent 17 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of a double murder," the Tribune reports.

"'And I looked up, and here's this little black guy with a big grin on his face and curly hair, happy as hell that he'd just been released from prison after 15 years of incarceration as an innocent man,' Ryan said. 'It's a bad, bad situation for a country like ours to have a situation like that . . . You know how close he came to getting executed? About 48 hours. They ordered his meal . . . measured him for his burial suit, and they were ready to juice the guy."

"The city attorney, Avi Kamionski, responded by telling Ryan that no one believed innocent people should be incarcerated but that the city had a right to defend itself.

"Ryan persisted, calling disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge 'a good example' of the problem.

"'I mean, I read those cases where he tortured those guys, put bags over their head, put a gun in their mouth and pulled the trigger with no bullets in it,' he said. 'Give me a break.'"

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See also: George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview.

4. I wonder how many Chicagoans - and how many of his voters in particular - even know Rahm Emanuel is Jewish. My guess is very few; it was barely publicized.

5. Yeah but he intends to move his underwear back to Springfield in time for the next election.

6. They better outsource security or Andy Martin will get in.

7. Charlie Sheen for President.

8. Chicago Code's ratings hold steady, though still not terribly impressive.

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Shawn Ryan says he's already preparing for a second season - including an episode based on dibs.

"Ryan admitted that he had devised one idea for a potential new episode after reading an article in a Chicago newspaper.

"'[It was] about the tradition of 'dibs' in Chicago . . . which has to do with people placing objects and furniture in the streets to save parking spots after snowstorms,' he explained. 'I started thinking about how that might be the basis of an episode.'"

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The show is getting better with each episode, but sometimes the dialogue is still laughable. A bigger problem going forward is that the show only has one compelling character - though it's a doozy. That's Delroy Lindo's Ald. Ronin Gibbons.

The problem is, what happens if/when Supt. Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals) gets her man and throws Gibbons in the clink? The show basically ends, unless you want to show Gibbons pulling strings from behind bars. Borrrrrring!

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Better idea: Spin Lindo off into his own show. Call it The Alderman. Lay off the mob stuff. Get rid of everything else. Do it now; rip off the Band-Aid.

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A review of last night's episode, "Cabrini Green."

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"Cabrini Green," by the way, yielded two additions to our Chicago Code Drinking Game last at the Beachwood: Drink every time a character mentions the Chicago Liberation Army, and drink every time the show gives an address that would actually be in Lake Michigan.

9. Randy Newman's Chicago Ties.

10. The Beachwood has obtained the short list of candidates being considered for the job of Cubs public address announcer.

11. Many Of World's Most Heinous People Hold Brazen Public Meeting But Authorities Let Them Go Free.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fickle finger of fate.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

Many Of World's Most Heinous People Hold Brazen Public Meeting But Authorities Let Them Go Free

Some - like us - are calling for an investigation.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Exclusive: The Short List For New Cubs P.A. Announcer

The Cubs are advertising for a new public address announcer, but Beachwood Sports has learned that the team has already compiled a short list of candidates.

* David Axelrod: Because he knows all about false hope.

* Steve Stone: Would not only tell you who's up, but what he's gonna do.

* Alfonso Soriano: At least they would get something out of the remainder of his contract.

* Blago: Could do it from his jail cell via Skype.

* Dock Walls: Somebody has to finally give him a job.

* Rahm Emanuel: P.A. would have to be on a seven-second delay.

* @MayorEmanuel: P.A. would have to be on a seven-second delay.

* Charlie Sheen: At least there'd be one winner in the Cubs organization.

* Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson: They're gonna need a new gig soon anyway.

* Todd Ricketts: Family looking for soft landing after disastrous Undercover Boss appearance.

* Michael Buffer: Let's get ready to crumble!

* Sheila Simon: Being lieutenant governor leaves her with plenty of free time.

* Straight No Chaser: Would also handle "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."

* A Recording Of Whoever Did It Last Year: Because not much has changed.

* Bob Rohrman: After all, there's only one.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview

I stayed up late last night to read the deposition of a convicted felon.

George Ryan is serving time in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, for crimes of corruption and obstruction he committed while he was Illinois' secretary of state and governor.

He was deposed last March by attorney John Stainthorp, whose client, Oscar Walden Jr., who was suing the City of Chicago.

Walden, who was convicted of rape, was granted a pardon by Ryan. Walden alleged his confession was coerced by the Chicago police.

The March 2010 deposition was the first lengthy interview of Ryan since he began serving his six-and-a-half year sentence more than three years ago.

Often throughout the interview, Ryan responded to Stainthorp's question with "Pardon?"

What you can't tell on the black and white document is whether he respond that way because he could not hear the question or because he did not understand the question.

Or, maybe it was something else.

Some of the Chicago's reporters describe Ryan's tone during the questioning as testy and combative. As I read the deposition, I could envision the arrogance spewing from the recognizable baritone of the once powerful politician.

I thought of what questions I would ask my former boss. Then I played devil's advocate and answered my own questions.

This is how I imagined the interview would go.

HAMMER: Mr. Ryan, How are you doing today?

RYAN: Who the hell are you?

HAMMER: I was an investigator with the Inspector general when you were secretary of state.

RYAN: How do you spell that?

HAMMER: Spell what, investigator, secretary, Hammer, or what?

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER Let's just move on. Why did you cover up the investigation by Russ Sonneveld and me probing the Ricardo Guzman bribe to Marion Seibel for a commercial driver's license?

RYAN: Who is this Bonneville guy?

HAMMER: Sonneveld? My partner.

RYAN: Pardon?Ryan- Pardon?

HAMMER: Do you recall the theft of money from the Naperville driver's license facility by the manager and the money going to your campaign?

RYAN: No fun here. I'm hungry. Are you staying for lunch? We are having baloney sandwiches today.

HAMMER: It is too early for lunch. Mr. Ryan, you granted clemency to many Death Row inmates; one murdered a police officer friend of mine who was responding to a bank robbery. That officer left behind a young widow with two children. How do you feel about that?

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: Can you hear me okay?

RYAN: Why would you ask me that?

HAMMER: You keep saying "Pardon?"

RYAN> The problem with punks like you, you don't get nothin'.

HAMMER: Mr. Ryan, please expound upon your comment.

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: Okay , okay. I'm frustrated. Let's wrap this up.

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: Do you feel in anyway responsible for the 20 or more traffic fatalities linked to your licenses-for-bribes scandal?

RYAN: Pardon?

HAMMER: That's it, my last question! Mr. Ryan is there anything you want now that could change your life for the better?

RYAN: Pardon! Damn it, pardon!

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

Randy Newman's Eskimo Ties

Randy Newman played in Chicago the night before he won an Oscar for Best Original Song. Here's a selection from that show and some other Chicago-related material.

1. Randy Newman at the Park West on Saturday night.

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2. Bloodshot recording artist Justin Townes Earle covers Newman's "Louisiana 1927" at Lincoln Hall last September.

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3. The same song covered by Paul Sanchez, John Boutte, John Thomas Griffith, and Sonia Tetlow at Schubas in 2006.

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4. The Flat Five covers "Caroline" at the Hideout in 2009.

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5. "Let's leave Chicago to the Eskimos. That town's a little bit too rugged for you and me, you bad girl."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Charlie Sheen Is A Truther - And Possibly Running For President

His open letter to Obama.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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