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« November 2012 | Main | January 2013 »

December 31, 2012

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Neurosis at the Metro on Sunday night.


2. Zed's Dead at the Congress on Sunday night.


3. Forgetting Yesterday at the House of Blues on Saturday night.


4. Girl Group at the Hideout on Saturday night.


5. Goodnight Criminals at the House of Blues on Saturday night.


6. Lotus at the Riv on Friday night.


7. The Chicago Jazz Orchestra Tribute To Frank Zappa at the Harris Theater on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:41 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Today's Bowls Brought To You By Franklin American Mortgage, Hyundai, AutoZone & Chick-fil-A

The bowl season rolls on. We're on it.

Game: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Time: Monday, December 31, ESPN, Noon (LP Field, Nashville)

Teams: NC State Wolfpack (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4, 5-3 SEC)

How they got here: Vandy head coach James Franklin, now in his second season, endured a tiresome interview process before scoring the job. Franklin's squad bears little resemblance to the doormats of past years.

The Commodores will appear in consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history, and with a win will match the record for single-season total Ws (set in 1915). Vanderbilt lost to the three ranked teams on the schedule this year (#9 South Carolina, #5 Georgia, and #4 Florida) but beat everyone else it should plus a few toss-up wins over conference opponents Missouri, Ole Miss, and rival Tennessee.

The Wolfpack performed to expectations, starting the preseason polls among the "Others receiving votes" and finishing in the middle of the pack (so to speak) in the ACC. NC State made a big move immediately following the close of the season by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois after he led NIU to its first BCS berth. Doren has since been firing all of former coach Tom O'Brien's staff and out trying to sell kids on playing for a team destined to finish behind Florida State and Virginia Tech every year. That leaves coaching the Music City Bowl to lame duck offensive coordinator Dana Bible.

Comment: Vanderbilt's success should be one of the lead stories of the college football postseason, but no one seems to find the idea interesting. Some background data for the unfamiliar: Vandy is a highly selective university, the only private school in the football-crazed SEC, and has a total enrollment somewhere between a third to a half of conference behemoths Alabama and LSU. Vanderbilt scored 85% in the NCAA's "graduation success rate" (GSR), a four-year average for freshmen student-athletes (and transfers) entering school between 2002-2005 who leave in good academic standing, good for 10th in the country among FBS schools. Many traditional football powerhouses fell below 60%, including in-state rival Tennessee (58%), USC (57%), Florida State (55%), and Oklahoma (47%). Further, in a recent study that analyzed the minority graduation rates, The Commodores ranked fifth among the 76 schools measured with a score of 74%, trailing only Northwestern (83%), Notre Dame (81%), Villanova (78%) and Penn State (78%). (For the curious, Villanova's football program is in the Football Championship Subdivision.) Pretty dry stuff, we admit, and talking about graduation rates doesn't draw viewers or drive click-through rates. But there should be some room in the conversation for the issue, right? Right?

As an aside, the most likely non-football comment made about Vanderbilt this week will be the program's lack of an athletic department. Former chancellor Gordon Gee (now president at Ohio State) dissolved the department during a restructuring in 2003. At the time, the move was celebrated as an indictment of the pervasive influence of football revenues on the NCAA's cherished notion of academic institutions. Vince Chancellor David Williams stepped into the role as de facto athletic director and was charged with integrating the student athlete experience with that of non-athletes. The model seems to work, as Vanderbilt has enjoyed substantial success in athletics under Williams' tenure, but the system hasn't curbed athletic expenses, at least at the top. His salary ($2.56 million) tops all athletic directors in the country, including Jeremy Foley at Florida ($1.54), DeLoss Dodds at Texas ($1.09), and Gene Smith at Gordon Gee's own Ohio State ($1.07).

Now that Gee oversees the Buckeyes, he doesn't seem to have any issue spending money, and not only on the athletic department. Gee is less recognized today as a reformer and better-known for his expenditures on bow ties and bow tie-related accessories ($64,000) and tailgating events ($813,000) in his position at OSU.

Pick: Early money went heavily in Vandy's direction, pushing the opening line (-5) to -7.5 in the Commodores' favor. With the added "hook," we will take the Wolfpack in a "nobody expects us to win" scenario.


Game: Hyundai Sun Bowl

Time: Monday, December 31, ESPN, 2 p.m. (Sun Bowl, El Paso)

Teams: Southern California Trojans (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7, 5-3 ACC)

How they got here: USC fell victim to preseason hype. Experts projected QB Matt Barkley as a Heisman favorite and the Trojans as the top team in the AP Top 25 preseason poll, and a close third by the USA Today. It's hard to know where it all went wrong. Barkley passed up the NFL draft by returning for his senior season, only to see his team struggle in big games, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In losses to Arizona, #4 Oregon and #17 UCLA, the D couldn't stop the opposing team from scoring at will, yielding 139 total points.

With an overall losing record, Georgia Tech doesn't belong in a bowl game.

Comment: We like that the Sun Bowl is played in the Sun Bowl. Why can't every bowl game be so straight forward? It would make writing these bowl previews a hell of a lot easier.

Pick: USC (-7.5) in a runaway. Just too much talent, injuries and subpar season showing aside.


Game: AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Time: Monday, December 31, ESPN, 3:30 p.m. (Liberty Bowl, Memphis)

Teams: Iowa State Cyclones (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) vs. Tulsa Hurricanes (10-3, 7-1 C-USA)

How they got here: The Cyclones were propelled by spiraling winds rotating counterclockwise, forming an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. The Hurricanes were spawned by the Carib/Taino storm god Juracán.

Comment: Whenever you don't know which side to take, always back the team named after an angry deity of an indigenous people native to the Caribbean.

Pick: In the words of Shakespeare, we will take "the dreadful spout," otherwise known to you mere mortals as Tulsa (+1).


Game: Chick-fil-A Bowl

Time: Monday, December 31, ESPN, 7:30 p.m. (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)

Teams: #8 LSU Tigers (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. #14 Clemson Tigers (10-2, 7-1 ACC)

How they got here: By winning a number of football games, but not quite enough to qualify for a BCS bowl game.

Comment: The College Football Reporter lives by a few simple rules. Rule #2: Never put yourself in an environment in which you are not the top of the food chain. Exhibit A: the Russian Far East, home of the Siberian tiger. The largest Siberian, or Amur, tiger male measured over 10' from head to rump and over 4' across the chest, while the heaviest weighed in at 460 pounds. In the words of John Vaillant, author of The Tiger, the Siberian tiger has the "agility and appetite of the cat and the mass of an industrial refrigerator" and "can jump as far as 25 feet - vertically, they can jump over a basketball hoop."

The Tiger begins with a story about the fate of a poacher, Vladimir Markov, who in 1997 shot and wounded a tiger and made off with part of the tiger's fresh kill. The tiger did not take this well. The tiger followed Markov's scent to his cabin, destroyed it, and sat outside waiting for two days for Malkov to return from his hunting trip. When Markov returned, the tiger attacked, killed him, dragged him off to a nice spot for a picnic, and ate him. A Russian wildlife inspection crew arrived later to find a splotch of "pink and trampled snow . . . the hind foot of a dog, a single glove . . . a bloodstained jacket cuff," and slightly further away, a "hand without an arm and a head without a face." The largest remaining bit of Malkov was , "a long bone, a femur probably, that ha[d] been gnawed to a bloodless white."

Remember, Rule #2.

Pick: We will take the Tigers.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Lovie Smith Is Both Fired And Trending

The news broke, as it does these days, on Twitter.

First, that Lovie was out.

Second, that before the Bears had even made the announcement - still hadn't as of 10:30 a.m. - word leaked out this way:



Let's see what various Chicago personalities are saying.


The state rep.


The county commissioner.


The newspaper troll.


The douchebag.


The former Bear.


The public radio reporter.


The sports broadcast personality.


The beat writer.


The Fox Sports "reporter."


The sports radio reporter.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Posting will continue to be sporadic until January 2nd - and maybe even then!

But we do have a few posts today:

* SportsMonday: Lovie Smith Is Fired And Trending.

* QT: Wring Out The Old, Ring In The New.

* The College Football Report: Today's Bowls Brought To You By Franklin American Mortgage, Hyundai, AutoZone & Chick-fil-A.

Meanwhile, a few items of interest:

* It's not too late to make a non-tax deductible donation to Beachwood Media.

* "Boeing, Chicago, has been assigned a patent (8,336,830) developed by David Scott Eberhardt, Seattle, for a retractable aircraft wing tip."

* "THE INSIDE STORY of how a top P.I. believes WHITNEY HOUSTON was killed by drug dealers to whom she owed as much as $1.5 million.

"The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively that PAUL HUEBEL, a former Chicago police investigator and now a top Hollywood private eye, plans to present his secret dossier to the bureau's Chicago office - revealing shocking evidence that details who killed Whitney and WHY."

* This Day In History.


* Violence in Chicago: One Boy's View.


* From a Facebook friend in a thread about taking change to the bank:

"We live in a neighborhood where a lot of people live hand-to-mouth. One day some neighbor kids were over and saw the partially filled change bowl on our little kitchen island. Their eyes were riveted on it, and one of them said, 'Look at that big bowl of money!' It put things in perspective - I see loose change, she sees money. Ever since, I've had thoughts of gratitude when I dump the change from the bottom of my purse in the change bowl."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Volume.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

QT: Wring Out The Old, Ring In The New

News Headline: "War planes bomb hungry civilians."
For those who despair at the planet's lack of progress from year to year, consider this:
Soon everyone will have computerized drones to bomb hungry civilians.


News Headline: "New Yorkers are murdering less and stealing more."
Progress everywhere you look.
Happy New Year!


News Item: "The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis is offering a number of 'Tweet Seats' to social media fans. . . will allow social media users to interact during the show. . . ."
On the other hand, maybe the Mayans were simply off a few weeks.


From a Chinese worker's letter smuggled to the United States in a product package:
"People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment. . . ."
QT is reminded for some reason that Michigan has become a right-to-work state, making the total 24.


News Headline: ". . . the fiscal cliff merry-go-round. . . ."
News Headline: ". . . the fiscal cliff roller-coaster. . . ."
News Headline: ". . . watching the fiscal-cliff circus. . . ."
News Headline: ". . . McConnell in particular is performing a high-wire act. . . ."
News Headline: ". . . a juggling act for Obama. . . ."
We must be having more fun than we thought.


News Headline: "2 officers released, 1 still hospitalized following shootings at NJ police station."
These shootings would never happen if we allowed police officers to be armed.


News Item: ". . . supported positions that were in the wheelhouse of Ronald Reagan. . . ."
News Item: ". . . the actress isn't straying far from her wheelhouse by taking on the role. . . ."
S.L., a Chicago reader, wants to know when a "domain" became a "wheelhouse," and when can we have domains back?
And. . . .


News Item: ". . . first snowperson of the season. . . ."
News Item: ". . . making a snowperson. . . ."
News Item: ". . . the traditional snowperson. . . ."
Why does QT find itself looking for a hair-dryer and an extension cord?


News Headline: "World's oldest man is Japanese? Now China claims someone much older."
This should sort itself out soon enough.


Today is National Make Up Your Mind Day.
National Make Up Your Mind Day is today.


News Headline: "Officer shoots man with knife."
There is probably an interesting story behind that.


News Headline: "No evidence that hangover cures work."
QT, while working as a bartender some years ago, developed this hangover cure:
Take a lime wedge.
Put a few drops of bitters on the wedge.
Bite down on the wedge.
All right, all right. This is really a cure for hiccups.
But it will briefly take your mind off the hangover.
Happy New Year!


From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ It is good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.
+ A raisin dropped in a glass of champagne will move up and down and up and down in the champagne.
And yes. QT probably has too much time on its hands.
Happy New Year!


QT News You Can Use:
The Sub-Bureau for Rapid Service and Predictions of Earth Orientation of the International Earth Rotation Service has announced that there will be no leap second added to civil time at midnight tonight.
Happy New Year!


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
Larry Kraus, a Rockford, Ill., reader, writes:
"When did verbs start becoming nouns--'reveal,' 'disconnect,' 'fail'--when all have perfectly good noun forms? Have people become too lazy to use suffixes?"
The trouble is that we've been using up all our suffixes to change nouns into verbs: "privatize," "prioritize," "incentivize,"
The second longest word in Shakespeare, by the way, is "anthropophaginian."
And trust QT.
You don't want to run into any anthrophaginianizing.
And Happy New Year!

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2012

The College Football Report: Specialty Yarns, Pinstripes And The Triple-Option

Bowl season rolls on. We're on top of it.

Game: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 29, ESPN, 11:45 a.m. (Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth)

Teams: Rice Owls (6-6, 4-4 C-USA) vs. Air Force Falcons (6-6, 5-3 MWC)

How they got here: We were going to say something obnoxious about the Falcons arriving by helicopter, but does the Air Force fly choppers or only planes? Somehow, we have a mental image of Top Gun-types pooh-poohing the idea of flying a helicopter. Real men fly jets, that sort of thing. Those that can't hack it can either push paper or fix helicopters. But with costs for next generation choppers topping out at seven figures each, we doubt the Air Force hands the stick over to any hacks.

Comment: Bell Helicopter is a division of multinational conglomerate Textron, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, with global locations in 29 countries. Textron ranks 236th in the Fortune 500 with approximate revenues of $11.3 billion, and owns a number of other businesses including the Cessna Aircraft Company. Textron began in 1923 as the Specialty Yarns Company and quickly cornered the market on synthetic yarns (including fun fabrics like acrylic, nylon and polyester, as well as household favorites like polypropylene.) But the company really came into its own - and fell in with the military-industrial complex - when a 1942 investment formed the Atlantic Parachute Corp, just as parachutes were becoming a very big deal.

Textron also owns E-Z-GO, so if you notice an unusually high number of advertisements for golf carts, you now know why. In a better world, the Bell Helicopter Bowl would be known as the E-Z-GO Bowl and the winning players would each be awarded an E-Z-GO 2Five, the "street legal" model, and could ride off into the Texas sunset.

Pick: Air Force (-2)


Game: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 29, ESPN, 3:15 p.m. (Yankee Stadium, Bronx)

Teams: West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs. Syracuse Orange (7-5, 5-2 Big East)

How they got here: West Virginia rocketed up the polls, topping off at #5 with a 5-0 record, but a five-game losing streak, due in large part to a horrendous defense (117th in the country in points allowed), dropped the Mountaineers to the lowest Big 12 bowl. (The New Era has a tie-in to the conference, but is only allowed the seventh overall team.) Syracuse delighted fans with a conference co-championship by ending the season with a win over fellow co-champ Louisville followed by two road Ws to earn a return trip to the Bronx, having beaten Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe game in 2010.

Comment: Neither of these former Big East rivals figured to see each other again this season. The series between the two teams spanned 1955 to 2011 until conference realignment sent the Mountaineers to Big 12 this season. More changes are on the way as well, with Syracuse joining the ACC in 2013. Beginning in 1993, the winner of the annual match-up was awarded the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy, a 95-pound hulking mass of metal that will be collecting dust for the foreseeable future - the series hasn't been scheduled to renew.

WV QB Geno Smith hasn't fared well against the Orange, going 0-2 as a starter. Smith put up phenomenal numbers this season (4,004 yards, 40 TDs, 6 INTs) but he will have to prepare for a high-pressure Syracuse defense that produced nine sacks and forced five interceptions while only allowing three passing touchdowns. The "Mountainees" high-speed spread option (or whatever variant offensive wizard Dana Holgorsen is running these days) may get bogged down by the weather as well: the forecast calls for low 30s and snow in New York.

Pick: Syracuse (+4)


Game: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 29, ESPN, 4 p.m. (AT&T Park, San Francisco)

Teams: Navy Midshipmen (8-4, Independent) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12)

How they got here: Navy runs the ball. All the time. The Midshipmen run a unique (actually, not unique so much as a the last remaining) triple-option offense that piles up rushing yards (6th overall at 275.6 yards per game) with a three-headed monster of running backs (Gee Gee Greene and Noah Copeland, each with over 600 yards rushing on the season, and QB Keenan Reynolds, with 628 yards and 10 TDs).

ASU lost four in a row during a stretch that included #3 Oregon, #11 Oregon State and #19 USC, but finished the season with a win over #24 Arizona and seemed to be piecing things together.

Comment: We strongly encourage casual fans to catch part of this game. Navy doesn't get much airtime apart from its annual game against Notre Dame, and the triple-option is fun to watch. Not only does it fool defenses, but we also expect ESPN cameramen (camerapeople?) to get suckered into following the wrong "ball carrier" more than a few times.

Pick: Arizona State (-14)


Game: Valero Alamo Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 29, ESPN, 6:45 p.m. (Alamodome, San Antonio)

Teams: #23 Texas Longhorns (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) vs. #13 Oregon State Beavers (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)

How they got here: The biggest match-up of the day places two teams who had bigger aspirations in what is essentially a consolation game. Both started 2012 undefeated (Texas 4-0, Oregon State 6-0) but in the age of scheduling cupcakes before conference play begins, we can't know just how significant those early results are, and the latter half of the season is more telling for both the Longhorns (losing the final two games) and Beavers (falling to #14 Stanford and #5 Oregon in the last four weeks).

Comment: Watching Oregon State - albeit from a distance (we aren't exactly huge Beaver fans, that is to say, we don't necessarily cheer for Oregon State . . . ) - turn it around this year has been enjoyable. Head coach Mike Riley won only three games last season, and the six-game improvement in 2012 tied the FBS as the biggest uptick compared to the prior season.

Pick: Oregon State (-3.5)


Game: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 29, ESPN, 10:15 p.m. (Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe)

Teams: Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs. Michigan State Spartans (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten)

Comment: We are filing this game under protest. Thirty-five bowl games is about a dozen too many, if we must see teams at or barely above .500 with losing conference records. How many people are going to show up at Sun Devil Stadium to watch this game, apart from however many manage to get there from East Lansing and . . . wherever TCU is based? Meh. Meh, we say!

Pick: TCU (-2)


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Posting will continue to be sporadic until January 2 - and maybe even then!

Hence, there was no Papers column on Friday. We do have a couple new posts elsewhere on the site, however.

* Chicagoetry: More Than A Feeling.

Dude brought a rifle to school,
Naperville Central, 1978.

* The College Football Report: Specialty Yarns, Pinstripes And The Triple-Option.

Thirty-five bowl games is about a dozen too many.

But we're on top of it. From Friday:

The College Football Report: Warhawks and Weed Eaters.

"We hated the Weed Eater as a young Reporter. The plastic string would come unspooled with no warning and the spinning head would go cartwheeling over the lawn, requiring an hour of fiddling in 90-degree temperatures and 99% humidity. In other news, we never want to own a lawn."

* We also remain active on Twitter over this break - and surely will be doubly so during the Bears game on Sunday.

For example:



The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Not a city in China.


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: They're back!


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg give you a soundtrack to kick off 2013 when they reveal their annual Mixtapes. Plus, they remember the musical greats we lost this year."


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

JBTV's Don't Drink & Drive Music Marathon


Including performances from more than 50 bands, behind-the-scenes interviews, and a countdown to midnight, this show is all you need to responsibly rock into 2013.

This 25th annual marathon with JBTV host Jerry Bryant includes interviews with Secretary of State Jesse White and DUI crash victim Marti Belluschi.

Saturday, December 29 from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on CAN TV19

Monday, December 31 st from 11:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. on CAN TV19

7 hr.


2012 Union Hall of Honor Awards: A Salute to Labor's Historic Heroes from Today's Historymakers


Seventy-five years after the Memorial Day Massacre at Chicago's Republic Steel, prominent labor figures honor three steelworker leaders - Ed Sadlowski, Alice Peurala and Frank Lumpkin - for their work promoting workers' rights.

Saturday, December 29 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


Black Scholars Assess the 2012 Election


Prudence Brown of the University of Chicago joins a lively roundtable discussion of what happened in the 2012 elections and what will happen next.

Sunday, December 30 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr. 30 min.


Public Housing: A Vision for the Future


Resident leader Bernadette Williams of Altgeld Gardens joins a discussion of strategies proposed by elected leaders of Chicago's public housing families for providing quality housing to more low-income families.

Sunday, December 30 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.


Public Housing: What Are the Next Steps?


Resident leader Deidre Brewster of Cabrini-Green provides a look towards the work that is needed to be done in order to provide quality housing for more low-income families.

Sunday, December 30 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


Mosque Alert: Three Stories


Three dramas - Ambition Impossible, Headscarf Pharmacist and The Muslims are Coming! - depict different perspectives of the Mosque controversy in Naperville; stories relevant to many communities today.

Sunday, December 30 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr.


University in the Mix: Amistad Research Center


Willie Lee Hart, president of the Chicago Friends of Amistad Research Center, teaches viewers about the amazing story of the slave revolt on the infamous Le Amistad ship and how abolitionists helped them fight for their freedom in U.S. courts.

Monday, December 31 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: More Than A Feeling

More Than a Feeling

Dude brought a rifle to school,
Naperville Central, 1978.

He was from India
and he wasn't fitting in. His father
was a prominent physician
and they moved to town
late into our midst, he was maybe

a junior (Jesus! New Guy!).

They caught him in the parking lot,
seething with rage with a bolt-action
rifle, no further harm done.

Apparently, we were a wealthy suburb
with excellent public schools.
You'd want to be there, or so you thought.

Our Lord
of the Flies.

New Guy?! Lord have mercy!

I remember, a few years before,

simply being a freshman
was humiliating enough.

But as sophomores, I remember my crew and I
finally realized maybe we had something
of our own, regardless of the upper-classmen
and their automatic disdain,

I remember us discovering

It wasn't easy.

I hear that first Boston
album now and I'm hurled back into it.
Might as well have been goddam Sergeant Pepper.
I, too, hurt in the midst of all of that,

but I was never New Guy.

When Boston came to the Stadium,
my bros and I had seats behind the stage,
and we scoffed at opener Sammy Hagar.
Apparently, he was the Red Rocker.
As a solo artist, he was New Guy.
And we scoffed.

Year and a half later,
we're the "upper classmen,"
and this dude shows up

in the parking lot
with a rifle.

He wasn't fitting in.
Somehow, they busted him
in time.

I participated in a youth culture
that shut him out.

I participated
in a youth culture
that shut his ass out.
I know for a fact
I never personally

fucked with him.

But I participated
in a youth culture
that shut his sorry, Indian ass out.

To this day
I shudder to imagine being
New Guy
at this particular, big-shot high school.

To this day
I shudder.


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 12:51 AM | Permalink

December 28, 2012

The College Football Report: Warhawks And Weed Eaters

Bowl season rolls on. We're on it.

Game: AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl

Time: Friday, December 28, ESPN, 2 p.m. (Independence Stadium, Shreveport)

Teams: Ohio Bobcats (8-4, 4-4 MAC) vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

How they got here: College Football Report darling Ohio U. suffered a sharp drop-off, losing four of their last five after starting 7-0. Opponents figured out that the Bobcats folded under an aggressive pass rush and brought the pressure. OU yielded 22 sacks in the four final losses of the season, limiting the effectiveness of star QB Tyler Tettleton.

The Warhawks jumped out to a similarly impressive record, including an upset over Arkansas (#8 at the time) in Week One. Though the Razorbacks proved unworthy of the preseason ranking, any win over the SEC by a Sun Belt team is remarkable. (Unless the SEC team is Kentucky, in which case it's to be expected.)

Louisiana-Monroe continued to overachieve, posting an 8-4 record both overall and against the spread to reach the program's first bowl game since joining the FBS (what was Division I) in 1994. Ohio didn't fare as well against the number, posting a 4-8 ATS record.

Comment: Ohio is no stranger to postseason play, most recently losing the 2010 New Orleans Bowl to Troy, which should aid handicappers trying to gauge how well the teams will play in the postseason, but there is no head-to-head history to draw from: The Bobcats and Warhawks have never faced each other.

A Sun Belt representative has never appeared in the Independence Bowl while MAC teams have only appeared twice, going 0-2 both straight up and against the number.

Bettors favor La-Monroe and probably for good reason: QB Kolton Browning posted solid numbers (2,830 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs) despite missing two games to injury, and has a pro prospect in WR Brent Leonard (97 catches, 1,042 yards, 10 TDs). The two anchor a La-Monroe offense that can put up points, averaging 35.5 points, and will look to carve up a Bobcats "D" that hasn't stopped anyone in recent games, yielding 80 points and 965 (!) total yards in the final two games.

A few fun facts about the Independence Bowl: Named after the nation's bicentennial, the Independence bowl was among the first to attract a corporate sponsor as the "Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl" in 1990.

We hated the Weed Eater as a young Reporter. The plastic string would come unspooled with no warning, and the spinning head would go cartwheeling over the lawn, requiring an hour of fiddling in 90-degree temperatures and 99% humidity. In other news, we never want to own a lawn.

Pick: We really like the Warhawks (-7) in this one. Favorites have seven straight wins ATS in the Independence Bowl and La-Monroe should get a big boost from the crowd in what amounts to a home game; campus is just 100 miles away.


Game: Russell Athletic Bowl

Time: Friday, December 28, ESPN, 5:30 p.m. (Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando)

Teams: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-3, 5-2 Big East) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6, 4-4 ACC)

How they got here: Rutgers blew a second-half lead over Louisville on November 29 in the final game of the season, relegating the Scarlet Knights to the Russell Athletic Bowl (not that there's anything wrong with that . . . ) while the Cardinals nabbed the Big East conference BCS bid and will play #4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The BCS game would have given Rutgers more exposure, and a heftier paycheck, but the conference was so underwhelming this year we expect either team would get pasted by the Gators. Even so, rookie head coach Kyle Flood has some notable marks on the line: Rutgers appears in its seventh bowl game in the past eight seasons, looks to record a 10-win season for the third consecutive year, and hopes to maintain a bowl winning streak dating back to 2005.

The Hokies fell short of a 10-win season for the first time in eight years, and needed a last-second field goal over in-state rival Virginia just to get to the Russell Athletic Bowl, not that there's anything wrong with the Russell Athletic Bowl. Va. Tech fans grew accustomed to strong seasons and January 1, if not BCS, appearances and the 6-6 record this season has left some in shock. Coaching legend Frank Beamer doesn't get paid $2,3 million to post .500 records.

Hokie QB Logan Thomas leads an offense that little resembles the road-grating running teams of the past. Thomas leads the team in rushing (528 yards), which is not a good sign: Tech has not had a QB lead the team in rushing since 1965. Keep in mind, a guy named Michael Vick played here and rushed for 636 yards in 2000.

Comment: Is it any coincidence that the words "boring" and "stinker" both share four letters with the Russell Athletic Bowl? We say no. We wish we had some kind words for the teams in the Russell Athletic Bowl, but we can't seem to put on our happy face about a game featuring an also-ran from a bad conference against a team with an unreliable (14 INTs) and overrated QB.

Pick: Rutgers fields a solid defense (sixth nationally in points) and should be able to play a field-position game, relying on Thomas to throw at least one costly pick. We will take the slight underdog (+2) Scarlet Knights.


Game: Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Time: Friday, December 28, ESPN, 9 p.m. (Reliant Stadium, Houston)

Teams: Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

How they got here: Minnesota has had a challenging season, not only in overall record, but in issues off the field (or at least off the field of play) as well. Coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure, his third on a game day in the past two seasons, in a loss to Michigan State on November 24. Kill, who suffers from epilepsy, has dealt with numerous challenges with his team this season, including the departure of WR A.J. Barker (who alleged he was mistreated) and backup QB Max Shortell (who started the season but lost out to freshman Philip Nelson in October), who will also not return.

Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague sounds supportive of Kill and his efforts to lead the team despite any health concerns, but any coach in Kill's position (regardless of other complications) would be advised to win a bowl game following a 6-6 season.

The Red Raiders decided to play defense this season, much to the dismay of sports bettors who had gotten fat and happy taking the "over" in every Texas Tech game. (The Raiders finished 39th in total defense, up from 114th last season.) Tech's decent defense helped, but the toughest teams on the schedule still found a way to score in losses to #17 Oklahoma (41-20), #3 Kansas State (55-24), and #24 Oklahoma State (59-21).

But Tx-Tech did pull out a three-overtime victory over #23 TCU and an impressive 49-14 "W" over #5 West Virginia. The point totals (Texas Tech allows 31.8 points per game, 92nd in the country) weren't a concern, however, as the dominant passing game (361.9 yards per game, 2nd in the country) allowed the Raiders to build up margins and force opposing teams out of their comfort zone in an effort to keep up the pace.

Comment: Sorry, Gopher fans. We expect a high-scoring blowout.

Pick: Texas Tech (-13) and the Over (55.5).


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

December 27, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Posting throughout the site will be sporadic until January 2nd - and maybe even then!

A few items of note.

* Corporate Tax Rate Overhaul May Be Part Of A 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal.

"Amid the wrangling over the so-called fiscal cliff, President Obama and congressional Republicans can agree on something: They want to lower the corporate tax rate."

We interrupt this news story to bring you this important reminder:

Corporate Profits Hit All-Time High As Wages Drop To Record Low.

Now we resume our regular programming.

"The 35% corporate tax rate in the U.S. is the highest among the world's developed economies and could be cut to improve global competitiveness."

That's an "objective" statement "reported" by the Tribune-owned Times.

Seventeen paragraphs in, though, we learn this isn't quite true:

"But the rate in the tax code isn't what many companies pay because of a host of deductions and tax credits. In 2011, the effective corporate tax rate in the U.S. was 29.2%, roughly in line with the 31.9% average of the six other largest developed economies."

And with corporate profits at an all-time high - that's all-time, meaning better than at any other time in the history of the universe - is "global competitiveness" really an issue?

We interrupt this news story to tell you that some economists think the term "global competitiveness" is utter bullshit, but let's play along for a minute.

"A lack of economic stability highlighted by a soaring national debt, combined with a lack of trust in government by the business community, helped drop the U.S. two notches to seventh in a ranking of national global competitiveness," this same Tribune Company reporter wrote in September.

"For the fourth straight year, Switzerland topped the list, which was released Wednesday by the World Economic Forum. Also beating the U.S. in the 2012-13 rankings of 144 national economies were Singapore, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany."

So to "compete" better, we're going to become even less like the countries ahead of us. Who's in charge here, Lovie Smith?

See also: The Truth About The U.S. Corporate Tax Rate.

(A note about that link: Unfortunately, the ideologically driven Media Matters, which often does fine work, doesn't care that it's not just the "right-wing media" who don't want you to know the truth; or, more likely, the rest of the media simply doesn't know any better.)

We interrupt this news commentary to provide you with another important reminder:

"Democrats seeking a deal to avert the year-end 'fiscal cliff' are trying to etch into stone the signature economic achievement of Republican President George W. Bush by permanently extending tax cuts enacted during his tenure," the Washington Post reports.

And remember all the hullabaloo when Mitt Romney seemed to define the middle-class as making $250,000? What he really said was "up to" $250,000, which for the purposes of discussing tax rates, is exactly how Barack Obama defines the middle-class.

Perhaps if Romney had been elected president, the same inflamed zombie voices arguing so vociferously against him during the campaign would have formed an opposition to him doing exactly what Obama is doing without dissent. Instead, the opposition is coming from the House Republican Tea Party caucus. Which is fascinating because the media is in another round of "The Tea Party is dead" stories even as the refusal of Tea Partiers to back down on their principles is the biggest reason we're still on that fiscal cliff.

Meet the second term, same as the first term.

* Mom, Aunt Left Kids Alone, Partied Before Fatal Fire, Prosecutors Say.

Yes. And there's no excuse.

But did that deadly fire start because the kids were left home alone or because the family was using a hot plate for heat?

The second-to-last paragraph:

"[T]he sisters were forced to heat their home with a hot plate and two space heaters because their gas had been shut off."

AP reports that "The cause was also under investigation, though officials said it appeared a hot plate, possibly being used to heat the room, fell onto some clothes, and started the fire . . . Some people said there was no gas service at the house, which is why the family was using the hot plate."

The Tribune reports that "The fire broke out about 3:20 a.m. Saturday in a first-floor bedroom where the two victims were sleeping. The brothers who survived, Darnell Meakens, 7, and Marquis Meakens, 4, were in a back bedroom."

The Tribune earlier reported that "When the blaze broke out at about 3:30 a.m. in their West Englewood home, Darnell, 7, and Marquis, 4, managed to run out a back door with the help of an aunt."

Who was presumably nearby.


"Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said firefighters found no working smoke detectors in the building. Firefighters also found that there were no working smoke detectors in the building."

That's the landlord's responsibility.

But the Tribune lets you know how it feels by ending its article with this quote from a neighbor: "There's no way they should have left those kids alone."

I agree, but that's not what caused the fire.


You can almost always discern the view of a reporter or their news organization by going straight to their endquote. Its purpose is usually to reinforce the (sometimes unspoken) thesis of an article in somebody else's voice. This way, the reporter remains "objective" while not. Another neighbor - or several - might just have expressed a very different sentiment, but the reporter chooses the one that fits the tone and message that he or she sees fit, or that their editor demands. It also helps tie up a story about real humans with an aesthetically pleasing novelistic bow.

In this case, though, the story is a bit more tragically complex - whether the sisters are more or less to blame than "we" currently think. Maybe they and they alone placed those children in danger. Maybe it was their choice to heat their home with a hot plate instead of paying their gas bill. Maybe gas service shouldn't have been turned off to a home with children in it. Maybe they sought help or maybe they didn't care. At the same time, if they were home, wouldn't that fire have started anyway? Again, I'm not absolving them of responsibility at all. But what is really the X factor here? And how did it come to this? Let's find out and tell that story instead of just taking the easy, tsk-tsking route and moving on to the next tragedy.

* Older Brothers Of Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Nominee Scott Lee Cohen Star In TruTV's Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.

The show takes place at Royal Pawn in the Loop.

From TruTV:

"Welcome to Chicago's most outrageous family-owned pawn shop. Run by brothers Randy and Wayne, the odd couple is constantly at war with one another, their kids and their customers. The shop lies in a unique part of town with a local jail across the street and just blocks from Chicago's fashionable downtown. From bankers to gangbangers, on any given day, you never know whether a fight or a fortune is going to come through the door. Brimming with cash, gold, conflict and the most unusual objects ever seen, this is a family business where the tempers run high, but the money can pile higher."

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Praising Arizona.

"The first half of this journey was great," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes, "but loving body language and two defensive touchdowns can't whisk away a second half of lies."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Write us sometime when you've got no class.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

December 26, 2012

Older Brothers Of Former Democratic Lt. Gov. Nominee Scott Lee Cohen Star In TruTV's Hardcore Pawn: Chicago

"Welcome to Chicago's most outrageous family-owned pawn shop. Run by brothers Randy and Wayne, the odd couple is constantly at war with one another, their kids and their customers. The shop lies in a unique part of town with a local jail across the street and just blocks from Chicago's fashionable downtown. From bankers to gangbangers, on any given day, you never know whether a fight or a fortune is going to come through the door. Brimming with cash, gold, conflict and the most unusual objects ever seen, this is a family business where the tempers run high, but the money can pile higher."

You can see the promo here on the Royal Pawn website.


Among the goods: Old-school CPD riot gear.


See more photos here.


"In addition to hard-luck stories," TimeOut Chicago notes, "the show features Randy's 26-year-old daughter, Elyse, and Wayne's 21-year-old son, Nate, who work as clerks at Royal Pawn," "Once the show comes out," Wayne says, turning away from the counter to rib Nate, "he just hopes he gets laid."


See also: Pawnbroker vs. Powerbroker.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 PM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Praising Arizona

Thanks Cardinals, you made us feel like we have a Super Bowl-caliber defense and an offense that's good enough to win. This was like a great party at the end of a marriage that's been loveless for five years.

They get dressed up, appear at a nice controlled social environment and slap on the charm for a roomful of casual acquaintances. For a few hours, he's the charmer she fell in love with and she's lightly touching his arm as she offers to grab him another drink from the bar.

But next week, they're arguing bitterly about who was supposed to take that bag that's been sitting in the foyer for the last two goddam weeks to Goodwill or angrily debating whether Lovie Smith's career record is enough to justify a lame-duck gig in 2013. By this time next year, the papers are signed, the house is split and, because nobody at that party suspected a thing, they all quietly blame Lovie for being such a divisive figure.

He's wondering why the 25-year-old he's banging doesn't know who Foreigner is, she's wondering why Kim Cattrall never told anyone that being a "Samantha" usually leads to Hep C, and D.J. Moore wants to know how desperate the Jets are for help at wideout.

The first half of this journey was great, but loving body language and two defensive touchdowns can't whisk away a second half of lies.

Broken Record
While the national media covers J.J. Watt (sacks), Adrian Peterson (rushing yards) and Calvin Johnson (flying gun) as they approach three of the most notable individual achievements in the NFL, we'd be remiss if we didn't spill a little digital ink on behalf of the Beloved.

Many of the franchise records posted or approached by Brandon Marshall this season (receiving yards, extreme coupon savings, largest oil tapestry of a QB) are overshadowing accomplishments turned in by the rest of the squad. As we near the end of 2012, let's take a quick look at some of the records that could be broken against the Lions this Sunday.

* With two more airings of this commercial for McNuggets, Kellen Davis will break Kevin Butler's franchise record for royalties generated by a regional ad, though I doubt Davis has enough juice to do spots for the Gary Auto Auction 15 years after he retires.

* Olindo Mare needs only one field goal to become the first kicker in Bears history named "Olindo" to successfully kick three field goals.

* Thanks to the Bears extremely generous film-grading policies, Brian Urlacher is closing in on the NFL single-season record of 194 tackles thanks to 11 solo takedowns against Arizona.

Kool-Aid (3 Out Of 5 Glasses Of Rum Nog)
Christmas was on Tuesday this year. Dairy-based or not, it'll still be good through the weekend.

As we approach the final game of the season, the only thing we definitively say about the 2012 Bears is that they are much better with their core players on the field; a statement which I realize carries all that weight of saying that runners are faster with legs or that women are sexier with vaginas.

While many critics disparage Chicago's disastrous second half, we should give the team some credit for beating the Colts, Cowboys and Vikings this year. They also managed to lose to the Texans, Vikings, Seahawks and Packers - twice - by a total of five scores.

Welcome to today's NFL: Celebrating the middle.

This Sunday will prove nothing on its own. The Bears beat bad teams and the Lions are such.

They will be 10-6 and may miss the playoffs because they couldn't find a way to bury the Vikings when they had the chance. I hope that's not the case, but Adrian Peterson might run for 300 yards against the Pack.

Bears 20
Lions 10


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:19 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Posting will be sporadic through the holiday break, which at Beachwood HQ extends through January 1st.

A few items for your pleasure:

* Meet Part-Time Chicago Suburbanite Tom Stuker, United Airlines' Million-Mile Man.

"Like many frequent fliers, Tom Stuker is reflecting on his past year of accumulating miles in the air. Unlike many of us, he reflects on the fact that as of last week he had flown more than a million miles so far in 2012, all on United Airlines," the

"And yes, for those who are slapping their heads in skeptical astonishment, that is a million miles of actual flying, not a million piled up in frequent-flier mileage programs."

Stuker appeared in the Beachwood last year too - see the item United He Stands near the bottom of this column.

* When U.S. Drones Kill Civilians, Yemen's Government Tries To Conceal It.

"[T]he deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times."

See also: Obama's Gift To al-Qaeda.

* Suburban Chicago Factory Owner Looks For Ways To Cope With Obamacare.

"Sales at Automation Systems LLC, a parts-assembly factory in the Chicago suburbs, dropped 60% following the 2008 financial collapse. Owner Carl Schanstra was able to get the firm back on its feet by breaking into new markets, such as the auto industry. Sales are up 12% this year, and are likely to rise again next year, too.

"But for the 34-year-old, the expected growth in sales brings a new concern. He is worried that as Automation Systems continues to expand, it will be subject to a provision in the health-care overhaul that could damage its bottom line.

Mr. Schanstra is contemplating various strategies he can take next year in order to sidestep what he believes are significant burdens of complying with the law. In fact, he's considering whether he should split his manufacturing firm in two."

* Illinois Couple Makes Pizza Beer.

"Tom and Athena Seefurth of Campton Township, IL, outside of Chicago, are marketing Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer with some success after an experiment in their home brewery.

"They say the plan was to invent a beer that would pair nicely with pizza but in the end, they ended up with one that almost was pizza."

* Mark Cuban Wanted To Buy The Cubs But Wasn't Allowed Anywhere Near Them.

"When I couldn't get the owner of the Cubs to sit in a room with me that pretty much told me it wasn't going to happen. I never made a final formal bid."

* Bedsheet Escape Only Latest Embarrassment For Downtown Federal Jail.

"The daring overnight escape last week of two convicted bank robbers who descended several stories from their federal jail cell in the South Loop on a rope made of bedsheets was a marvel to many for the ingenuity it required.

"But the escape also was a massive security breach at a building that has long drawn sharp criticism for less publicized, routine problems.

"Those familiar with the inner workings of the Metropolitan Correctional Center say the concrete high-rise facility is overcrowded. Though intended as a pretrial jail, it has become more of a long-term prison that houses inmates for up to five or six years, they say.

"Critics also complain of inconsistent job performance by the guards, some of whom have been accused of crimes while on duty, including smuggling contraband. Some observers say the MCC, like other federal correctional facilities, is stretched thin by federal budget cuts."


Previously this week:

* The Great Chicago Christmas Credit Card Fiasco of 1966.

"As Christmas approached in 1966, Chicago's banks gave criminals the best gift of all: free credit cards.

"They didn't do this intentionally, of course, but that holiday season the city's banks put thousands of credit cards into criminal hands, with disastrous consequences. Although embarrassing and costly, the Chicago credit card fiasco did have an upside: It eventually led to consumer protections that are still with us today."

* Last Christmas For 132-Year-Old Church?

"It's been around for more than 130 years, but St. James Catholic Church on 29th and Michigan in Chicago will likely be torn down in the new year unless it's saved as a historic landmark."

* Stranger Provides Best Gift - A Kidney - For Grandma.

"For 60-year-old Donna Fitzmaurice and her family, this year brought home the true meaning of Christmas.

"'Giving something of yourself that nobody else ever would, and giving it to a stranger - making life better for someone else - that's the greatest Christmas gift I could ever have gotten,' the Burbank grandmother said Monday.

"Earlier this year, Joseph Trent, 26, of Palos Hills, an electrician, offered to donate one of his kidneys to someone in need, and that someone turned out to be Fitzmaurice."

* Bears Need Help From Packers To Make Playoffs.

We get it. It's "ironic." Does every reporter writing this story think they are the first to point this out? One even asked Lovie Smith if he'd have a hard time rooting for the Packers - even though saving his job may depend on a Green Bay victory. Are we children? Or, better question, are they?

* Kraft Isn't Just Staying In Northfield, It's Expanding.

"Northfield avoided major economic problems in 2012 when Kraft decided against relocating from the near-north suburb.

"Kraft, which moved to Northfield in 1992, split into two companies this year, and entertained the notion of moving its international headquarters to Chicago."

Macaroni & Cheese better watch its back.

* Cool Holiday Train Photo. (via Grid Chicago)

* SportsMonday: Bears Scratch Out Ugly Win Over Third- And Fourth-String Quarterbacks Of Minor League Team At Online University Stadium In Desert Suburb; Still Alive For Playoffs.

* Chicago: Tension City.

* QT: On The Third And Fourth Day Of Christmas . . .

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock: The Western, Flosstradamus, Stonethrone, The Killers, The Bright White, Andrew Bird, Eruptors, Every Avenue, Kill Hannah, Bear Claw, Tyler Ward, The Ridgelands, Criminal Kids.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Unwrapped and ready.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

December 25, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

Posting throughout the site will be sporadic during the holiday break, though you can always find us commenting on the news on the Beachwood Twitter feed.

A few items of interest today:

* The Great Chicago Christmas Credit Card Fiasco of 1966.

"As Christmas approached in 1966, Chicago's banks gave criminals the best gift of all: free credit cards.

"They didn't do this intentionally, of course, but that holiday season the city's banks put thousands of credit cards into criminal hands, with disastrous consequences. Although embarrassing and costly, the Chicago credit card fiasco did have an upside: It eventually led to consumer protections that are still with us today."

* Last Christmas For 132-Year-Old Church?

"It's been around for more than 130 years, but St. James Catholic Church on 29th and Michigan in Chicago will likely be torn down in the new year unless it's saved as a historic landmark."

* Stranger Provides Best Gift - A Kidney - For Grandma.

"For 60-year-old Donna Fitzmaurice and her family, this year brought home the true meaning of Christmas.

"'Giving something of yourself that nobody else ever would, and giving it to a stranger - making life better for someone else - that's the greatest Christmas gift I could ever have gotten,' the Burbank grandmother said Monday.

"Earlier this year, Joseph Trent, 26, of Palos Hills, an electrician, offered to donate one of his kidneys to someone in need, and that someone turned out to be Fitzmaurice."

* Bears Need Help From Packers To Make Playoffs.

We get it. It's "ironic." Does every reporter writing this story think they are the first to point this out? One even asked Lovie Smith if he'd have a hard time rooting for the Packers - even though saving his job may depend on a Green Bay victory. Are we children? Or, better question, are they?

* Kraft Isn't Just Staying In Northfield, It's Expanding.

"Northfield avoided major economic problems in 2012 when Kraft decided against relocating from the near-north suburb.

"Kraft, which moved to Northfield in 1992, split into two companies this year, and entertained the notion of moving its international headquarters to Chicago."

Macaroni & Cheese better watch its back.

* Cool Holiday Train Photo. (via Grid Chicago)


The Beachwood Tip Line: Insta.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

December 24, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

Posting will be sporadic during the holiday break. Here's what we have today:

* SportsMonday: Bears Scratch Out Ugly Win Over Third- And Fourth-String Quarterbacks Of Minor League Team At Online University Stadium In Desert Suburb; Still Alive For Playoffs.

* Chicago: Tension City.

* QT: On The Third And Fourth Day Of Christmas . . .

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock: The Western, Flosstradamus, Stonethrone, The Killers, The Bright White, Andrew Bird, Eruptors, Every Avenue, Kill Hannah, Bear Claw, Tyler Ward, The Ridgelands, Criminal Kids.


You can also check the Beachwood Twitter feed for links to new posts and ongoing holiday break commentary.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Holiday schmoliday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

Chicago: Tension City

"Tension City" is a series of photos that were captured on the streets of Chicago showing the tension of 2012. Nothing is posed, just snapped in the moment.


See also:
* Chuck Jines Street Photography
* Chicago Photo Journal


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Western at Subterranean on Thursday night.


2. Flosstradamus at the Metro on Saturday night.


3. Stonethorne at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.


4. The Killers at the UIC Pavilion on Friday night.


5. The Bright White at Schubas on Thursday night.


6. Andrew Bird at the Hideout on Saturday night.


7. Eruptors at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.


8. Every Avenue at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.


9. Kill Hannah at the Crimson Lounge on Friday night.


10. Bear Claw at the Burlington on Friday night.


11. Tyler Ward at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.


12. The Ridgelands at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.


13. Criminal Kids at Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears Scratch Out Ugly Win Over Third- And Fourth-String Quarterbacks Of Minor League Team At Online University Stadium In Desert Suburb; Still Alive For Playoffs

Bears fans deserve better than what they've received from their team of late. But it isn't as though they ever really demand even the tiniest of improvements.

That was the thing that struck me as I walked among my fellow fanatics in and around University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday.

In the past week there was the predictable response to Brian Urlacher saying he didn't care what the fans think with commentators slamming the linebacker for biting the hand that feeds him. Then there was the backlash as other commentators argued that fans were fools if they didn't think that every pro athlete feels the same way to a certain extent.

Now I don't think fans are fools but I must profess I don't begin to understand how many of my brethren behave. And that goes back to the whole "never demanding that you be treated better" thing.

One local team showed at least a bit of appreciation last week. But the Cubs' moves to overpay a few free agent pitchers (Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva) to try to ensure they lose less than 95 games next year instead of more than 100 could just as well have been based on economics as on making fans slightly happier.

Maybe just maybe not everyone is accepting the "we have to completely suck the next two years to ever be truly good" bill of goods the Cubs have been selling. And perhaps just perhaps that has been reflected in a slowing of season-ticket buying. In other words, maybe at least a few Cubs fans were on the verge of demanding that the team not be a total embarrassment.

Even if that is the case, plenty of other people are still buying the Cubs' big con. And last week they were saying the free agent signings were a mistake. But it isn't that difficult to see that the team can focus on the future and play for next season to at least be better than last season at the same time . . . if the team is willing to spend the money it surely has.

The Cubs overpaid third-starter-at-best Jackson in particular (his contract guarantees him four years and more than $50 million), and if he is no longer good enough in years three and four of that deal to crack a rotation that is suddenly filled with splendid young prospects, well, the Cubs will have to eat at least a portion of those years. But people! The Ricketts' can pay that off with their pocket change.

Here I am going on about the Cubs when the Bears' season still has at least one thrilling week remaining. Perhaps that's because the grown-up Cubs' 28-13 victory over the Cardinals didn't exactly make spirits soar. It did leave the Bears 9-6 and if they win next Sunday and the Vikings lose, the Bears are in the playoffs

My first thought as I surveyed what seemed like tens of thousands of midnight-blue clad partisans who filled up the stadium in suburban Phoenix was that the ingrate Bears don't deserve this kind of support. My second thought was that if the fans are still going to show up and spend, spend, spend, why would the Bears ever change?

Many of us paid at least something close to triple digits per ticket (we were five rows from the top of the place and our tickets had a face value of $75 per) to take in a game against a terrible team. For a long time this season there wasn't a worse team in the NFL than the Cardinals, before they finally found a way to knock off the Lions last week to break a nine-game losing streak.

At least the money wasn't going to the Bears, right? And the homestanding Cardinals made a few allowances. They provided us with nice little free programs (with rosters and everything!), the sorts of little programs that I feel like we used to get at a variety of sports venues in Chicago that we definitely don't get anymore.

And there were literally scores of team employees out along the concourses and at the top and bottom of escalators wishing us happy holidays as we exited. But given the price of beers and the long, slow lines at the concessions stand and everything else, it was a terrible deal for the paying customer.

And the beat goes on across major professional sports. The whole experience gets more and more expensive year after year and fans get less and less. They certainly get less and less respect. I'll never completely walk away from it all, but I have scaled back the number of games I go to in a given year.

Bears fans may deserve better from the Bears, but more importantly, they deserve better from themselves.

He Said It

The final home game was a gallery of grotesque. Gargling with kerosene will leave a better taste in your mouth.

- Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley

Hashtag Bears























Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

QT: On The Third And Fourth Days Of Christmas. . . .

QT Christmas News You Can Use:
A reminder to those who are out of work while the merriment happens all around:
The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas will offer free job search and career advice to anyone who calls on Dec. 27 and 28.
The number is (312) 422-5010.
The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And try to remember:
There are Twelve Days of Christmas.
And a New Year after that.


And who hides in a bakery at Christmastime?
A mince spy.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
This should about do it until QT returns next week.
One other thing:
Merry (this statement is offered without representation or warranty as to the effects or repercussions thereof upon any and all persons who might elect to celebrate the holiday as represented therein and with the understanding that any persons taking such actions without such representation or warranty do so with the express understanding that they have agreed to indemnify and hold QT harmless from the effects thereof) Christmas!

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 AM | Permalink

December 22, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

May all of the coal in your stocking be clean.

Market Update
Despite a spirited run by Apocalyptic Nihilists, Recorded Time didn't end on Friday. It just felt like it to some people.

Wild Game
After a week of contemplation some may have misinterpreted as abject cowardice, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre unveiled the organization's "meaningful contribution" to the gun control debate: an audacious plan to put armed guards in every school in America. Which, let's face it, would make Rahm Emanuel's next showdown with the teacher's union even more awkward and uncomfortable.

Reindeer Game
Before you go claiming the NRA's strategy is completely infeasible, what with the national registry of weirdos and the looming economic meltdown, consider the timing of this proposal. We're about to see proof, yet again, that the necessary distribution channels and background checks are already in place.

Game Attempt
For the record, LaPierre's speech did contain one fundamental error. It turns out you can stop a bad guy with a gun just by holding up a large pink sign.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Making spirits bright.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg explore the history of the Supergroup. Plus they review the new album from 'Girl on Fire' Alicia Keys."


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

Perspectivas Latinas: Rape Victim Advocates


In the wake of recent child abuse scandals around the country, Megan Blomquist of Rape Victim Advocates discusses abuse prevention and signs to watch for to tell if a child is being abused.

Saturday, December 22 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.


Life Transformation Through Entrepreneurship


New business people talk about the Life Transformation Through Entrepreneurship program, where disadvantaged people in Englewood meet weekly to develop business skills and business plans with experienced mentors and peers.

Thursday, December 20 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr.


Alternative Public Art Initiatives


Members of local groups discuss how murals and similar public art can be used to engage communities and transform neglected and inactive spaces.

Saturday, December 22 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.


South Shore Drill Team Holiday Show


Youth primarily from Chicago's South Side dance and perform during their annual holiday special.

Sunday, December 23 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


Vaudeville Roars!


Artists from across Chicagoland premiere original dance, theater, music, circus acts and more during this modern-day variety show.
Sunday, December 23 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.


Synagogues of Mexico


The Chicago History Museum's exhibition Shalom Chicago highlights the history of the Jewish community in Chicago from 1840 to today.

Sunday, December 23 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.


Transnational Corporate Mining in Latin America


Brother Domingo Solis, director of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, speaks about the potential environmental and social damage that mining could bring to El Salvador.

Sunday, December 23 at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:10 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2012

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Draconian Crusade at Reggie's on Sunday night.


2. Diamond Youth at the Metro on Sunday night.


3. Mr. Mayor & the Highballers at the Green Lady on Wednesday night.


4. PJ's My Cousin Too at Reggie's on Sunday night.


5. The Orions at the Burlington on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Former White House Chief of Staff William Daley talked a lot about a lack of 'leadership' in Illinois government Thursday as he continued to mull a run for governor in 2014," the Sun-Times reports.

Well, given his resumé and relatives, he'd know it when he sees it.


"He did, however, dismiss any notion that an involuntary-manslaughter charge recently brought against his nephew, Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko , would play any role in his decision about whether to run. Vanecko was charged Dec. 3 in the death of David Koschman eight years ago, and a special prosecutor continues to investigate why the Chicago Police Department - then headed by Daley 's brother, the former mayor - refused to bring charges against Vanecko in 2004 and again last year.

"No," said Daley when asked if his nephew's situation could impact his decision to enter the governor's race.

Asked why, Daley replied, "Because it doesn't."



"Speaking for a half-hour before about 300 people at the City Club of Chicago, the former White House chief of staff and U.S. commerce secretary said he was 'seriously' looking at a run for the Democratic nomination for governor - in contrast to two previous flirtations with seeking the office a decade ago and two years ago," the Tribune reports.

"I think when I looked (at running) last time, I was looking at it," Daley told reporters later. "I'm seriously looking at it right now."

Aha. That explains it. Maybe just get back to us when you're doubly seriously looking at it.


"I think just because people comment on things, you shouldn't assume that they're going to run, and just because they comment on things doesn't mean they won't run," Daley said.

So people shouldn't comment on things. Or we shouldn't pay attention to their thing comments. Maybe just get back to us when you are seriously commenting on things.


"Daley blamed the state's fiscal crisis on a lack of political leadership in Springfield."

It's not like the leadership of the financial community could have anything to do with it.

The Uninformed Absentee Alderman
"How does Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) alleviate the stress of being married to someone who is struggling with bipolar disorder and under investigation by federal authorities who are looking into his finances?" the Sun-Times wonders, because apparently it can't think of anything else to ask the embattled dissembler, like, for example, just how she earned $5,000 a month as a consultant to her embattled dissembler husband even after he disappeared from Congress last spring. And that's just for starters, I mean, there are about a hundred questions you could shout out in a crowd rather than humiliate yourself with the soft, sympathetic touch of public relations intern. But let's play along.

"The best thing for me is I don't read any newspapers and I don't watch any news," said Jackson Thursday night between doling out hugs and kisses to constituents at the South Shore Cultural Center.

A) Breaking News! Sandi Jackson Meets Constituents!

B) Sandi Jackson least informed member of nation's most ignorant legislative body!

C) Sandi Jackson thinks about what's best for herself for a change!

Midway Meter Deal
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to revive the city's effort to reap cash by leasing Midway International Airport to a private operator - although under sharply different terms than those proposed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley," Crain's reports.

"While the timing isn't ideal, with investors offering to pay much less for recent airport deals than just a few years ago, Chicago faces a Dec. 31 deadline to let the Federal Aviation Administration know whether it plans to proceed. This is only the first step in a long process that may or may not end in a viable transaction for the city or investors."


File under Lessons Not Learned. And it's not just the infamous parking meter deal whose stink still wafts over the city. For example, remember the highly touted Indiana toll road privatization? From Reuters' MuniLand blog (via a Whet Moser tweet):

[T]he privatization of the Indiana toll road was a disaster. It certainly should be a lesson for public officials who are considering this approach to finance infrastructure.

Less federal funding is causing states to explore alternative financing schemes for infrastructure. It is likely that the tried and true model of issuing municipal debt, backed by toll revenues, will continue to prevail.

Rahm's restructuring of a proposed Midway deal does little to avoid familiar pitfalls. From Crain's:

"Instead of one year short of a century, Mr. Emanuel said he wants to lease Midway for no more than 40 years. Airport investors consider that to be at or near the minimum length of a lease that offers the opportunity to invest in revenue-generating improvements that will pay off over time."

Forty years is still a long time. If the city gave Starbucks an exclusive coffee contract in 1972 with its share of the profits locked in, we'd be pretty pissed right now.

"The other major structural change from the previous Midway deal is that Mr. Emanuel wants enough cash upfront to pay off Midway's roughly $1.4 billion in debt. The rest of the city's money would come over the long term in a split of profits with the private operator."

That's the kind of "short-term fix" thinking that made the meter deal so horrendous. Ideally you'd like more money on the back end precisely because of those "revenue-generating improvements that will pay off over time."

A very real question, then, is whether Rahm sees this as a possible piece to the "pension crisis." Consider:

"By state law, at least 90 percent of the proceeds must be spent on infrastructure or to reduce the city's pension debt."

Rahm (sort of says) he's not looking at this as part of a pension fix, but one might reasonably suspect he's got some numbers written down on a piece of paper one of hisa secret drawers that does just that.


There are other potential advantages from his perspective. For example, Rahm wants that big upfront payment in part to eliminate Midway's $1.8 million debt, which the city refinanced last spring. Again, someone would have to run the numbers to see if it would be smarter to clear the debt or simply refinance it on even better terms, but there's another piece in play. The law requires the city to reinvest airport profits on airport infrastructure. What's made at the airport must stay at the airport. Not so with a private operator, though. Then the city is allowed to take its share of the profits and do whatever it wants with them. So under privatization, Rahm gets a little slush fund.


Some aldermen are already balking at a Midway deal because it smacks too much of the meter deal and that gives them the willies.

But just two weeks ago, some of those very same aldermen passed a billboard privatization ordinance while thundering just how unlike the meter deal that was - and how the media should stop comparing every privatization plan to The Deal Which Must Never Be Spoken Of Again.

We will if you will!

But no, the meter deal is the gold standard of the false promise of privatization. It offers an incredibly useful model - a dynamite business school case study. Everything the city does should be compared to it. And then we should just do the opposite.

Where's Mayan?
Chicagoans want to know. In QT.

These Bowl Games Are Making Me Thirsty
Now with tartar sauce. In The College Football Report.

Steel Mountains and Metal Dreams
Chicago legend Richard Hunt is still sculpting our world.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Five for Friday.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Also for commenting on things.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

Richard Hunt Still Sculpting Our World

"Richard Hunt, a Chicago-based sculptor whose works date back to the 1950s, has been selected as the public artist for Charlotte's Romare Bearden Park," the Charlotte Obsever reports.

Hunt is planning a work of welded stainless steel called "Memory Place" for the park, which is still under construction.

For those not familiar with him, Hunt just happens to be an internationally renown local legend with works all around the country. Let's take a look.


"Hunt began his career in 1955 as a student at the Art Institute of Chicago," the Observer notes. "His first large-scale public art commission came in 1967. In the 45 years since, he has received more than 100 commissions across the United States and has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Ford and Tamarind fellowships.

"He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first artists to the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, Hunt was the recipient of the International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement Award."


"Hunt has completed more public sculptures than any other artist in the country," according to Wikipedia.


His studio.


His website.


"It's astonishing the way the award-winning Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt makes stainless steel seem light and fanciful. His sculptures appear to defy gravity as they soar into the heavens," Dawn Turner Trice wrote for the Tribune in August.

"Hunt's large-scale public art projects can be found throughout the Chicago area and beyond, including Oasis, a welded bronze, brass, copper and stainless-steel installation at Stroger Hospital.

"There's also the steel 'mountain' in Memphis that honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It's made out of the same rust-colored Corten steel as the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza. Another project, a lithe and jagged metal tower, is in Augusta, Ga., and celebrates the historic Springfield Baptist Church, which turned 225 years old this month.

"Now, the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee has commissioned Hunt to create a monument to civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells. This year marks the 150th anniversary of her birth."


The Ida B. Wells Monument.


Discussing his work before a gallery show in 2009.


Applewood Estates in Flint, Michigan.


Build a Dream in Newport News.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

QT: Chicagoans Ask: Where's Mayan?

No. Sorry.
The world was supposed to end as we slept at 11:11 (GMT).
Still here.
Something not many people know:
The Mayan civilization finally collapsed when sacrifices to the Mayan rain god Chaac were no longer allowed in public schools.


News Headline: "How to think about interviewing children in traumatic situations like Newtown shooting."
Note to fellow reporters:
This is easy.
Don't give it a second thought.
And then don't do it.


News Item: ". . . Christmas-tree-related injuries. . . hurt by twinkling fairy lights. . . ."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


QT Trickle-On Economics Update:
Pfizer, whose CEO's pay increased more than 300 percent in the last year, announced it is laying off 20 percent of its sales workers to cut costs.


QT News You Can Use:
+ The Rapture Index, which measures the progression of end-time prophecy according to world events, has risen to a record high of 187.
+ The number of Google hits for "tap-dancing militant Islamic fundamentalists" has surged to a record 2,380.
Forget the Mayans.
Something is up.


QT News Presented Without Comment:
The Wales national coal museum has installed solar panels to save on energy.


QT Early Warning System:
Seventeen percent of you will embarrass yourselves at a Christmas office party this year, according to a study.
The warning wasn't early enough?


News Headline: "Pope blesses faithful with first tweet."
As you may recall, Pope Benedict XVI first tweeted a week ago.
He tweeted seven times.
Then he abruptly stopped tweeting.
Then came three more tweets two days ago.
And we wait again.
We meanwhile saw 43 tweets from Justin Bieber in the same week.
So maybe the pope could borrow a few to keep up the numbers:
+ "i promise you what i got planned for 2013 u r not expecting. :)"
+ "i hope everyone is having a nice day."
Well. . . .
+ "this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. --John 15:12"
Hey. The kid seems to be getting it.


News Headline: "Unbelief now the world's third largest 'religion.'"
The pope really needs to step up the tweeting.
Justin Bieber can do only so much.


News Item: Scientists in 2012 discover tulips with digestive systems, cannibal lemurs, worms with no mouths, fish with penises in their heads, snakes with tentacles and meat-eating sponges.
As the Intelligent Designer walks slowly away, whistling to himself.


News Headline: "Does bowl season even matter?"
And how could it not matter when East Carolina meets the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the R+L Carriers Inc. New Orleans Bowl?


From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ Rudolph's red nose could have been caused by any of 20 parasites that inhabit reindeer respiratory systems.
+ The most dangerous occupation in Sweden is herding reindeer.
Ho, Ho, Ho!


News Headline: "Finding joy in Christmas memories."
You can start by viewing your childhood home in an Internet snow globe as an automatic donation, no cost to you, is made to the Coalition for the Homeless at this place here.
Ho, Ho, Ho!


Today's Birthdays: Sherman's March to the Sea, 148; It's a Wonderful Life, 66.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
K.R., a Baltimore reader, writes:
"A Nation book review contains the following: 'Yet however ginger its initial embrace of politics, it quickly came to realize the possibilities. . . ." The word is 'gingerly.'"
A silly mistake, especially this time of year.
The writer could have asked any gingerbread man.
Ho, Ho, Ho!

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: These Bowl Games Are Making Me Thirsty

After a solid regular season, our picks in the first week of bowl season aren't faring well.

The Chicken opened at 0-2 last week and the remaining pick doesn't look good. As this is being written, San Diego State is trailing BYU 16-6, meaning the Aztecs need either a touchdown and a field goal; a touchdown and a two-point conversion; a touchdown and a missed extra kick and a safety and/or field goal; two field goals and a safety; one field goal and three safeties; or four safeties to cover.

If we had to guess, however, we would go with an SDSU field goal (16-9) followed by an SDSU touchdown (16-15) and a defensive interception of a two-point conversion attempt returned for a BYU two point conversion (18-15) followed by a long field goal by Aztec kicker Chance Marden to tie the game at the end of regulation (18-18), with the Cougars sacking SDSU QB Adam Dingwell in the end zone on the first possession of overtime for a safety to end the game. Your final score: Brigham Young 20, San Diego State 18 and an underdog (+2.5) cover.

Totally plausible. Except BYU entered the game a three-point favorite (according to the books at the Stratosphere and Wynn), with the handicappers at both Caesars and the Mirage tacking on the hook (+3.5), or, for those really looking for value on the 'Cougs, the Atlantis where the line got pounded down to two. That puts the Vegas consensus at -3, not -2.5 as listed in last week's report.

UPDATE: BYU just scored (22-6) on a 17-yeard interception return. The Justin Sorensen extra point try is good (23-6).

We retract our earlier statements.

For starters, the Aztecs only need two touchdowns and two successful extra points (23-20) for a push, assuming we go with the consensus Vegas line (-3) at kickoff. We like the push, it's our favorite outcome in gambling other than winning.

Secondly, BYU apparently is good, or at least better than SDSU in this case. As it turns out there is something to like about the Cougars other than the part about them not cutting corners.

This weekend, the Free Range Chicken and the Sports Seal have a consensus pick that is a lock: there will be college football bowl games.


Game: Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl

Time: Friday, December 21, ESPN, 7:30 p.m. (Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg)

Teams: Ball State Cardinals (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. University of Central Florida Knights (9-4, 7-1 C-USA)

How they got here: Both teams were led to believe that the winner would be awarded a Beef 'O' Brady's franchise.

Comment: Good news, Chicagoans: The Beef 'O' Brady's franchise for the greater metro area is available. Call 1-800-728-8878 to find out more.

The bad news is that, short of opening your own "Beef's," you will have to drive 70 miles to location #277 in Bourbonnais should you get a hankering for a Big Catch fish entree.

But should you desire a frosty Colt 45 to wash down that 2,675 mg of sodium (Big Catch Dinner, tartar sauce, curly fries), you will need to leave Kankakee County as "the sale of beer or malt liquor in any sized glass container which contains more than 20 fluid ounces and is refrigerated or cooled in any manner, and sold at other than room temperature, is hereby prohibited.(Ord. No. 98-81, Sec. 1, 09-08-98)."

In related news, the good people behind Beef's have made it remarkably difficult to figure out the nutritional information for items on their menu. It is a multi-step process. First, pull up the Nutrition Guide page on their website. Next, enter a city or zip code (Bourbonnais, 60914). Hit the "GO!" button. (GO! means nutrition guide fun times.) Do not get distracted by the resulting map. Find the "Nutritional Information" link at left under the address of your favorite Beef's and click on it. Make sure Java is enabled, however, or the following screen won't build correctly. You will be presented with some sort of meal assembler tool. Do not be intimidated. You can do this. Select your Category in the first dropdown menu. (Condiments is a fun place to start.) Pick your Item from the second dropdown. (We like "Spicy Dipping Sauce (2 ounces)".) Look for the "Add item to meal" button at lower left. Click it. Presto! The table at right (under "Nutrition Facts:") will be populated with the associated data.

To get to the next level, you need to build an entree. This will require more steps. We will leave you to it.

Pick: Ball State +7


UPDATE: Final score, BYU 23, SDSU 6. To cover, the Aztecs will need a flux capacitor. Stay tuned.


Game: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 22, ESPN, 12:30 p.m. (Superdome, New Orleans)

Teams: East Carolina Pirates (8-4, 7-1 C-USA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

How they got here: Now that the Sun Belt has two bowl tie-ins, the R+L Carriers get the second pick of the two teams, assuming there are at least two bowl-eligible Sun Belt teams. (The Sun Belt conference champion plays in the Bowl.) We don't know how the New Orleans Bowl selects the other participant, a qualifying Conference USA team, other than that it can choose an at-large team if C-USA doesn't have an adequate number of bowl-eligible squads. So, there you have it.

Comment: In the past, we have picked the Ragin' Cajuns based on little more than our affection for the little flaming red pepper in their alternate logo, but we are putting more thought into our pick this year. We are feeling the Pirates this season. The swashbuckler in East Carolina's logo looks . . . salty. Not quite Big Catch salty, but almost.

Plus, ECU's leading rusher is a guy named "Vintavious." We have long had a rule in college football bowl handicapping here at the College Football Report: never pick against a Vintavious. We're not about to start now.

Pick: East Carolina +5


Game: Little Caesars Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 22, ESPN 7:30 p.m. (Ford Field, Detroit)

Teams: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan Chippewas (6-6, 4-4 MAC)

How they got here: The Hilltoppers pulled another 7-5 season to end Willie Taggart's brief, but sterling, career as head coach. Taggart accepted an offer from South Florida on December 8th, leaving the Hilltoppers in an awkward situation. The 'Toppers only just joined (2009) the FBS, so expectations should still be fairly low, but Taggart did such a tremendous job lifting the program from the 0-12 debacle in '09 to winning seasons and bowl bids, the WKU administration must have felt a need to continue the momentum.

So, Todd Stewart salvaged Bobby Petrino from the coaching scrap heap.

Petrino, despite embezzling money from Arkansas to pay his football assistant and mistress, and then awkwardly covering up her involvement in an ugly motorcycle crash, has been mentioned in numerous job openings this postseason, proving that college football is about winning and not about discretion. Petrino will attract all the attention in the Little Caesars Bowl although defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will actually be calling the plays for Western Kentucky.

Central Michigan finished the season on a three-game hot streak, including a win over hapless Massachusetts to end the regular season and reach bowl eligibility.

Pick: If the Hilltoppers can block out all the outside distractions (and here we are channeling every pedestrian college football commentator in the country), we like them to cover the five-point spread, although we are inclined to believe factors like fielding a good senior quarterback are more important.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:52 AM | Permalink

December 20, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

This column was delayed this morning because I have a master's degree from Northwestern and still can't make a paper snowflake. (It was for a Sandy Hook relief project.)

Reminds me of this:

Brian: Did you know without trigonometry, there'd be no engineering?

Bender: Without lamps, there'd be no light.

Not that having a master's degree from Northwestern is a credential I like to brag about. To the contrary; it's the kind of credential that makes me immediately suspicious of others. I'm far, far more proud of my experience at the University of Minnesota. And I kind of hate Northwestern, though I did get a great deal of value (not monetarily, of course) from the program they let me design there and my associated work with the Newspaper Management Center, which I loved. But that's another story. I totally couldn't make a snowflake come out right.


The Beachwood mobile office is once again at Filter in Wicker Park today. They're doing one of these deals.

The Sandy Hook kids will resume going to school in a nearby town where a high school friend of mine sends his kids. Their school was locked down too that day as a precaution.


Snowflakes for Sandy Hook.


Local Lawmaker Urges More Mental Health Funding After Sandy Hook.


"It's hard to find another state that has cut more from its mental health budget than Illinois," NBC5 Chicago reports.

"The Land of Lincoln now ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to cutting mental health programs. From 2009 to 2012, state leaders cut roughly $187 million from state-sponsored programs, according to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness."


"If there is any point of agreement in the polarizing issue of gun control it is that people with mental problems shouldn't be anywhere near a loaded weapon," Kurt Erickson reports for The Southern.

"But, as lawmakers begin to discuss a policy that would allow qualified Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons, serious questions have been raised about one of the key lines of defense in keeping potentially dangerous people from owning guns.

"Under Illinois law, people found mentally incompetent or not guilty by reason of insanity are not qualified to hold a Firearms Owner Identification card.

"A recent audit of the FOID program, however, found nearly all counties in Illinois were not submitting court orders to the state that would ban mentally ill card holders from owning firearms."


"The shooter's aunt, who lives in Crystal Lake, Ill., has been the most vocal member of the Lanza family since the 20-year-old went on a shooting rampage that left his mother and 26 adults and children dead," Huffington Post Chicago notes.

"[My family] didn't want me to go to the press but I thought someone from the Lanza family should be represented," Marsha Lanza said to ABC Chicago.


The key term in this piece is "narrative fulfillment."


"As a presidential candidate in 2007, Obama offered rhetoric on the need to bolster gun-control laws that was similar to his remarks at a memorial service this week in Connecticut," Bloomberg reports.

"'Our playgrounds have become battlegrounds,' he told a packed church on Chicago's south side, as he challenged the government, gun lobby and public to reduce violence. 'Our streets have become cemeteries. Our schools have become places to mourn the ones we've lost. The violence is unacceptable.'

"Obama at the time called for better enforcement of existing gun laws, tighter background checks on gun buyers and a permanent assault-weapons ban.

"After his first year in office, though, the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave him its lowest grade of 'F' for 'failed leadership' on the issue."


"If we are not getting right the need to keep our children safe, then nothing else matters," Obama said, after explaining that he's been too busy being president to take action on gun violence.


"[Rahm Emanuel], through a spokeswoman, declined [a Bloomberg] interview request. He defended the president's gun record in an interview yesterday on the CBS television network.

"'The president's record is very, very clear on this,' he said. 'It's clear when he was a state senator. It was clear when he was also a U.S. senator. It was clear also as president.'"



"Emanuel was an aide to President Bill Clinton when an assault-weapons ban was passed by Congress as part of a crime bill. That ban expired in 2004, and there have been calls to restore it following the Connecticut shootings.

"The mayor didn't deny an anecdote in the book Kill or Capture that quoted him as using an expletive in anger after Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2009 that the president backed a ban on assault weapons. Emanuel was concerned that such a push would be a distraction.

"'President Obama always stood for getting this done,' Emanuel said yesterday, adding that the president didn't do anything about gun control because he was 'dealing with a myriad of issues,' including a struggling economy and health-care legislation."


Rahm now.

Rahm then.

The Gospel According To Inez
Mourning a Chicago icon.

Field Museum 2.0
A makeover for the ages.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
The perfect litmus test.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Crystal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

Remembering Chicago Gospel Icon Inez Andrews

"Chicago gospel icon Inez Andrews was the last of her kind, a towering figure from a golden age when giants such as Mahalia Jackson, Albertina Walker and DeLois Barrett Campbell still toured the world," Howard Reich writes for the Tribune.

"Andrews' throaty contralto made her low notes thunder, while the enormous range of her instrument enabled her to reach stratospheric pitches without falsetto. Her dramatic delivery made her a charismatic presence in church and on stage.

"Andrews, 83, died at 2:01 p.m. Wednesday in her South Side home, said her granddaughter Vanessa Moultry. A cause of death has not been determined, but Andrews was being treated for cancer, her granddaughter said."


From Wikipedia:

"In 1957, Andrews became a member of the gospel group The Caravans; she auditioned for Albertina Walker (Queen Of Gospel Music) and Dorothy Norwood, and they sent for her in Chicago. She resided there, and used Chicago as a base for her performing career.

"Along with Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Cassietta George, Josephine Howard, Eddie Williams, James Herndon, and Delores Washington, she became one of the major stars of gospel's golden age."


A short history.


Lord, Don't Move My Mountains.


Mary Don't You Weep.


I Made It.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

Field Museum 2.0

"Battered by the recession and a high debt load, the Field Museum on Tuesday announced plans to cut staff, overhaul its operations and limit the scope of its research," the Tribune reports.

"A comprehensive plan being drawn up by museum officials also could include changes to its hours of operation and the admission price for special exhibits. Staff reductions would be aimed at curators and scientists, according to museum officials."

As usual, the Beachwood has obtained an internal document outlining detailing measures under consideration or already underway.

* Sue busted down to Brontosaurus.

* New exhibit: Students as janitors through the ages.

* Unnatural history now included too.

* No more Pleistocene era.

* Change focus to an actual museum of fields.

* New ad campaign starring Sally Field.

* New exhibit: The Stoned Age.

* Expansion: The Field and Stream Museum.

* Change focus: The Field of Dreams Museum.

* Restoration of depreciation tax credit that expired 100,000,000 years ago.

* New gift store item: Maps of where the bodies are buried.

* New exhibit: The Prehistoric Bears Offense.

* Hire Robin Williams as security guard.

* Convert to charter museum.

* Hire the descendants of the Flintstones to live there for a month.

* New exhibit: Frozen Caveman Lawyer.

* New diorama: The Meeting: Karen Lewis and Rahm Emanuel.

* The Richard M. Daley Library: Including hologram of the former mayor threatening to stick a rifle up a reporter's butt.

* Now with exhibits so easy even a caveman can understand them.

* Pretend packages are arriving for Indiana Jones.

* New exhibit: Stretch: The Broadcast Career of Hawk Harrelson.

* That new Chicago casino has to go somewhere.

- Thomas Chambers, Marty Gangler and Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

December 19, 2012

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: The Perfect Litmus Test

It took some doing, by which I mean ignoring the running game, and Alshon Jeffery looking like a rookie when he was actually on the field, and not really having a tight end, and a lot of momentum-killing penalties, and a heap of injuries, and some fairly terrible play-calling, and special teams looking average, but the Bears have managed to parlay a 7-1 first half into the seventh seed in the NFC, thus reducing a promising season into a desperate two game win-out-or-die scenario for the third time in five years.

The NFL has an elaborate set of tiebreakers and so only true insiders like the crack Beachwood staff understand how to determine which 9-7 team has a chance to win the Super Bowl. Allow me to use our vast computational resources to help you, the dedicated reader, navigate the byzantine maze of NFC playoff scenarios for teams on the bubble.

Rams: I don't even think Steven Jackson realizes that there is actually a scenario in which the Rams can make the playoffs. If the Seahawks lose one game and abstain from playing another, coupled with two Rams wins and a Vikings tie, St. Louis will get 20 complimentary 300-level tickets to the AFC wildcard game of their choice. A loss in the final two weeks nets them a single $20 gift card to Red Lobster.

Saints: Quite literally all but mathematically eliminated, a lot has to happen for New Orleans to make the postseason at 8-8. Andy Reid actually has to eat Jason Pierre-Paul during the week 17 Giants-Eagles game. I mean, there's a chance he could eat him the same way you eat a Buick, by grinding it up and sprinkling a little on your cereal every morning, but to expect it to happen in under three hours is unreasonable.

Vikings: Must beat the Texans and Packers in order to . . . eff that. Not happening. Moving on.

Cowboys: Despite a mediocre start/middle/probably finish, Dallas can make the playoffs by winning out, thanks to a match-up with Washington in Week 17. A less likely road to the postseason requires the Cowboys to go 1-1 and the Rams, Vikings, Bears, Cowboys, Seahawks and Redskins to all tie, and then to all get into bus accidents.

Bears: Win out and hope that many teams lose at least one game. Jacksonville has to go 1-1 for some reason.

Redskins: Both teams stand at 9-6 as the seconds wane on the Week 17 match-up of the Redskins and Cowboys. The NFC East title is decided as Tony Romo receives the game's final snap and puts down the perfect hold . . . unfortunately he does this in trips formation on third-and-short at the Dallas 37. A confused, but delighted Washington squad wins by two and claims the #4 seed.

Giants: After beating the Ravens in Baltimore, New York must prevent Andy Reid from eating Jason Pierre-Paul (see above) in the season finale. If that happens, the outcome of the game is not in doubt.

Or, the Giants lose one of their two final games and miss the postseason, but along with the Jets are still given such disproportionate coverage on ESPN during the wild card and divisional rounds that 78% of Americans are convinced that Tom Coughlin's team is not only in the playoffs, but won in the first round.

Seattle: Benefactors of a number of tiebreakers including head-to-head records, conference records and amount of teal in their jerseys, Seattle will almost certainly make the playoffs even with a 9-7 record.

Better Know A Cardinal
In terms of NFC teams I know absolutely nothing about, the Arizona Cardinals certainly rank among the elite. The guy from The Nightmare Before Christmas is their quarterback, right?

What you do need to know is that their imposing level of anonymity coupled with a 1-9 record over the last 10 games combine to lull teams into a false sense of not actually playing a professional football game.

Your team may be up 6-3 late in the third but watch out!

Ken Whisenhunt has you right where he wants you and guess what, douchebag, you're only going to score nine points in today's pivotal contest.

Sure, you'll win 9-3, but say goodbye to your precious 10th tiebreaker.

Kool-Aid (1 Out of 5 Glasses Of Whatever You Were Drinking Last Week)
If the Bears can't beat the Cardinals they don't deserve to make the playoffs, so this kind of works out as a disappointment litmus test.

I think the Bears win, but you could - and I did - say that about any of the last four games.

Bears 14
Cardinals 6


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 PM | Permalink

QT Will Return. . .

. . . Friday.

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:06 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"An internal Chicago Public Schools document obtained by the Tribune shows for the first time that the Emanuel administration has weighed how many elementary and high schools to close in which neighborhoods and how to manage the public fallout," the paper reports.

"Labeled a 'working draft,' the Sept. 10 document lays out the costs and benefits of specific scenarios - revealing that the administration has gone further down the path of determining what schools to target than it has disclosed."

That's putting it politely, given the administration's firm denials up to now that it has done nothing of the sort. Now it's parents who may go on strike. Good job, Rahm! What's next, a secret list of students you plan to fail?


"While schools are not listed by name, one section of the document contains a breakdown for closing or consolidating 95 schools, most on the West and South sides, as well as targeting other schools to be phased out gradually or to share their facilities with privately run charter schools.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his top school leaders have said they are in the early stages of making difficult decisions and that the city cannot afford to keep operating deteriorating schools with dwindling student populations in the face of a billion-dollar budget deficit. The document goes well beyond what the administration has outlined to the public.

"Amid a September teachers strike, the Tribune reported that the Emanuel administration was considering plans to close 80 to 120 schools, most in poor minority neighborhoods. Administration officials have repeatedly denied they have such a figure."

And here's the money quote that puts an end to whatever honeymoon the new schools chief may have had:

"Unless my staff has a hidden drawer somewhere where they've got numbers in there, we don't have a number," schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in November.

Guess what? There was a hidden drawer.


"But the internal document, prepared at a time when school leaders faced a December deadline to make their decisions public, lays out multiple scenarios for closing neighborhood schools and adding privately run charters - a key component of Emanuel's plans for improving public education. Chicago Teachers Union members, aldermen and other charter school critics have accused the administration of favoring the charters while depriving schools in poor neighborhoods of needed improvements.

"The document discusses how to deal with public reaction to school closing decisions, with ideas ranging from establishing 'a meaningful engagement process with community members' to building a 'monitoring mechanism to ensure nimble response to opposition to proposed school actions.'"

In other words, a public relations strategy built on pretending to listen to parents while establishing a war room to respond - quickly and harshly - to critics.

Rahm governs like he campaigns: dirty.


"It is unclear how closely the administration is following the ideas in the 3-month-old document; sources told the Tribune the school closing plans are being constantly updated and subsequent proposals have been kept under close wraps.

"The detailed document obtained by the Tribune comes from a time when a Chicago teachers strike interrupted the beginning of the school year and Jean-Claude Brizard was still Emanuel's schools chief; the embattled Brizard quit soon after. Byrd-Bennett was a top education official at CPS under Brizard and was named by Emanuel to succeed him.

"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said Tuesday that 'this plan was proposed by past leadership at CPS and is not supported by CEO Byrd-Bennett.'

"In terms of whatever document you have, I don't care when it's dated, as of today there's no list and there's no plan," Carroll said. "Maybe there were multiple, different scenarios passed around at some point, I don't know, but there's no list of schools.

"When CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett took this position, she made it very clear that we were going to do this differently than how it's been done in the past," which is why she appointed a commission to take public input on school closings, Carroll said.

Wow. That's nimble. In this case, the past isn't the Richard M. Daley era, it's the Jean-Claude Brizard era. Which was also a departure from the past. Pretty soon the district will have to depart from the future just to keep up.

But about that commission:

"Questions are bubbling up about the independence of a panel looking at school closings in Chicago," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"The independent Commission on School Utilization was named by Chicago Public Schools' CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to examine the school closings issue, specifically underutilized schools.

"But the commission is being assisted behind the scenes by the Civic Consulting Alliance - a politically connected nonprofit that deploys business consultants to city government."


Back to the Tribune:

"But under Byrd-Bennett's tenure, at least one of the proposals outlined in the secret document has come to pass - the idea of a five-year moratorium on further school closings after this school year.

"The September document raises the idea of a moratorium that would extend beyond Emanuel's first term in office as part of the rollout of school closings. But the mayor's first public mention of a moratorium came in November, when he offered it as a sweetener that helped persuade state lawmakers to extend the December deadline for announcing school closings to March."

A move, by the way, that nobody except Rahm and Byrd-Bennett seemed to want.

See also: General Assembly Rolling Over For Rahm.


Back to the Tribune:

"Critics called the delay a ploy to give opponents less time to organize against the closings. But Emanuel said school officials needed the time to gather community input on the 'tough choices' about school closings."

The phrase "tough choices" polls well, I'm reasonably sure.

"Byrd-Bennett said her decisions on what schools to close won't come until after she receives recommendations from the commission she created. The Tribune reported last week that the commission chairman doesn't plan on issuing recommendations until days before the March 31 deadline for announcing school closings - and even then, there are no plans for the commission to identify individual schools.

"While CPS has not released a list of schools to close, it has made publicly available a breakdown of how much a building is used, performance levels per school and how expensive the facility is to keep open. School officials have said underenrollment is a key factor in school closing decisions this year. The school system recently released a list of about 300 'underutilized' schools - nearly half the district - that have dwindling student populations.

"But the document obtained by the Tribune contains clues as to how the administration could make those decisions."

Here it comes.


"The most stark page in the document is a graphic that breaks down the 95 schools that could be closed in each of CPS' 19 elementary and high school networks.

"On the page, which contains a warning at the bottom that the graphic is a 'preliminary work in process' and for 'pre-decisional discussion only,' most of the schools are on the South and West sides, which are predominantly African-American and Hispanic sections of the city."

I'm guessing those phrases, by the way, as well as the earlier "working draft" are included in part to evade the Freedom of Information Act by defining the document by one of the Act's exclusions. But I digress.

"For instance, the graphic suggests most of the closings are occurring in elementary school networks: 12 schools in the South Side's Burnham Park network, 11 schools in the West Side's Austin-North Lawndale network and 11 in the Near West Side's Fulton network. In comparison, the graphic suggests closing only one school in the Southwest Side's Midway network, three in the North Side's Ravenswood-Ridge network and no schools in the Northwest Side's O'Hare network."

The good news for those schools is that Rahm may just save them now out of spite.


"The report details the effect school closings could have on students, stating that there will be an 'initial negative impact' due, in part, to students having to move to new schools but that over time there will be 'improvement in educational outcomes' for students who move into better schools with more academic programs.

"Still, it notes that improvement will depend on the quality of the remaining schools. Based on a 'highly preliminary analysis,' the document states, an estimated 16,700 students would be sent to schools that are better, while an estimated 20,500 students would move to schools of an 'equal level.' It says no students would go to schools that are performing worse than where they are going now."

Define worse.


"CPS is making its decision in the midst of a $1 billion budget deficit for next year, and district leaders have said the school closings will help close that hole over time. They've estimated saving $500,000 to $800,000 for every school the district closes.

"The report offers more details about potential savings, providing a wide-ranging estimate.

"It states that depending on which schools are closed, if the district shuttered about 100 schools, the estimated savings would range from $140 million to $675 million over 10 years.

"The document assumes the district will dispose of 46 buildings deemed to be the most expensive to maintain.

"The savings, according to the document, would mostly come from avoiding capital costs for building upkeep and operational savings such as heating and daily engineering costs.

"But the document also reveals that the district would lose some of those savings because it would have to make an 'up-front cash investment' of $155 million to $450 million. The document lists 'transition costs' for closing schools that would include severance pay for displaced teachers, added transportation to get students to new schools and extra security to help control potential gang violence that may arise."

In other words, what could possibly go wrong?


"It also is filled with details about the controversial issue of charter schools, including how many could be launched and whether they would be sharing a building with neighborhood schools, which school officials call 'co-location.' CPS officials have said the issues of closing schools and opening charters are not connected."



"The CPS plan also lays out various 'community engagement' strategies for selling the school closings to the public and politicians.

"In one section it details three such scenarios to consider, offering pluses and minuses for each. The 'Deep Engagement' scenario calls for the 'greatest community' input but notes that [it] 'may result in less actions,' such as fewer schools closed. A 'No Deep Engagement' scenario 'allows for largest pool of actions' but 'zero community 'buy-in.'"

In other words, the more that the community is engaged, the fewer schools the district will be able to close. Why would that be? Because either the administration doesn't have the stomach for "tough choices" after all, or because in many cases the publicly stated rationale for closing schools would fail to hold up scrutiny. (The privately stated rationale, of course, is further privatization of CPS.)


"It also anticipates everything from establishing a 'war room' to monitoring all activities related to the closings."

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.


"It notes the possibility of lawsuits, criticism from 'elected officials' and the need to identify 'go-to advocates outside of CPS' to counter expected criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union."

Maybe get them to write Op-Eds for the papers and give "exclusives" to local TV news personalities.


"The document also contains the suggestion that the administration consider 'options to discuss during engagement conversations' that could help win over community leaders, including magnet programs, playgrounds, allowing empty school buildings to be used for community centers and even renaming streets or parks after a shuttered school."

As QT would say, when did "bribes" become "options to discuss during engagement conversations" and can we have bribes back?


"The document outlines strategy on the thorny issue of adding up to 20 charter schools a year at the same time it is closing neighborhood schools.

"While the report says charters are 'a core prong of CPS's academic improvement strategy,' it also acknowledges the district will face criticism if it adds charter schools in the first year while also eliminating district-run schools.

"To avoid that 'perceived inconsistency,' the report states that the district cannot add so many charters when it is selling school closings as a way to address CPS' fiscal crisis."

Holy fucking Christ. They wrote it down.


"Indeed, the school board on Wednesday is expected to approve only four new charters this year."

Kind of like a down payment. Game, set and match.


This is really just the culmination of a series of missteps and outright fabrications on the part of Rahm Emanuel and his administration when it comes to the schools. Rahm wears the jacket for this; it's his vision and it's his unprecedented micromanaging of day-to-day affairs at 125 South Clark Street that has turned CPS into a giant shit show.

"There's an awful lot of confusion around the CPS's new commission on school utilization," Curtis Black writes for Newstips.

"There's confusion over administration claims of an enrollment crisis, as WBEZ has detailed - and, as at least one CPS official has acknowledged, there are strikingly different ways of estimating the number of 'empty seats.' There's confusion on the part of parents and educators testifying before the commission with no idea whether their schools are threatened, as the Tribune notes.

There's confusion on whether CPS's five-year moratorium on school closings only covers school closings due to underutilization; whether a shelved-for-now plan to have charters take over neighborhood schools will be revived; how much money closing schools really saves; and, especially, just why CPS continues to roll out new charters while citing enrollment declines and budget deficits to insist on closing neighborhood schools.

"There's also widespread confusion over just how independent this 'independent commission' is. Even among the people naming and chairing the commission, there's confusion."

Go read the whole thing.


As for all that confusion, that's because there's a distinct lack of clarity and credibility. Jean-Claude Brizard is gone, but Rahm Emanuel remains. Therein lies the real problem.


* Rahm's Fake Jobs

* Rahm's Unbearable Whiteness Of Being

* Rahm's Pants Still Aflame

* The Moneyball Mayor's Credibility Gap

* Emanuel's Charter Stats Don't Add Up

* Emanuel Errs On Charter Performance

* Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras

* The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The 6-Year-Old Girl

* Liar's Poker: Rahm's Minor Concessions Leave Gaping Holes In Our Civil Liberties

* Rahm's Fake Transparency

* Rahm The Master Media Manipulator


Also today:

Laughin' To The Bank
Chief Keef: Baller of Confusion.

Pooper Scooper
The Best Of Jenny McCarthy So Far.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Also, hook and sinker.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:47 AM | Permalink

The Best Of Jenny McCarthy So Far

"Would you take advice from Jenny McCarthy?" USA Today asked in October upon the news that the Sun-Times had hired the celebrity with the biggest body count as their new advice columnist.

Maybe the question should have been who would take advice from Jenny McCarthy.

Well, now we know.

Here are actual excerpts from (presumably) actual people and McCarthy's actual responses, with my actual commentary added for actual entertainment.


October 28

Dear Jenny :

I was married for 21 years and got divorced in January 2011. I'm having a tough time dating and hope you can give me some help.

- Norm from Wheaton

Jenny says: Oh man, Norm. I feel ya. I know exactly what you are going through. I was married for seven years and then jumped into a relationship for another five. When I was finally free, I was scared. I didn't know how to date. I would meet someone and stay with them for five to seven years just so I didn't have to go on any dates.

Now I'm proud to say I've turned into a date-aholic. So you asked the right person, my friend.

Or, some might say, you've asked exactly the wrong person. But it gets better.

The first thing you need to do is hang out where single people are. If you are young, it's the clubs.

Um, read closer, Jenny. He was married for 21 years. So not young. Also: Lives in Wheaton. So, no clubs.

Please make sure you are up to date with your wardrobe and make sure you are groomed.

Also, please make sure you are not up-to-date with your vaccines.

If you are not doing well in public settings, then try online dating. I did it for a while, but then I couldn't differentiate between a serial killer and a nice guy, so I quit.

And we're asking you for advice?


November 4

Dear Jenny :

How do you get past embarrassing moments? I just had a big one happen to me and I'm too embarrassed to even say it.

- Louise from Chicago

Well, it can't be worse than asking Jenny McCarthy for advice . . .

Jenny says: Well Louise, we can all relate to having embarrassing moments! I've shoved my foot so far in my mouth so many times that I guarantee there is a foot growing out of my butt.

Stop promoting your next photo shoot.


November 11

Dear Jenny :

I have been dating a sheriff's deputy on and off for six years, but for the last year or so we have gotten very close. We saw each other on the weekend, made plans for the following weekend but when I texted him about our plans during the week, he texted back with "Have to pass, started seeing someone!"

That's it. I have texted and e-mailed a few short messages (not mean or upset) since then and have gotten ZERO response. Obviously, I wrote him off but my question is, what kind of guy does that? Do men actually think that is acceptable? Especially since he is a public servant, doesn't that bring common sense and decency?

- Jackie from Oswego

Let me stop in here, Jenny. Um, when you've been "seeing someone" on and off for six years, that means you're not seeing them. When he texts you and says "Have to pass, started seeing someone!", that means he can't bang you anymore because he's actually started seeing someone. And no, being a sheriff's deputy doesn't confer common sense upon someone - and neither does "dating" one. But I can hook you up with a guy named Norm from Wheaton.

Jenny says: Yes, I would say that was pretty douche-baggy of him to be so short and so blunt with you. Also, with texts it's so hard to hear any emotion, so that doesn't help. He could have thought he was saying it sweetly, but it doesn't matter. It still hurts. OMG, if I could hug you I would!

. . .

When I get leftovers that seem to pop up in my life again, I think to myself, "Oh no, I'm attracting the same thing!" What didn't I learn from the last time? What do I need to change to upgrade this time?

Once you do that, you will be amazed by all the fresh meat that comes your way. It will be raining new men and when it does, call me so I can have some of your leftovers. Mine have been awful lately.

And we're asking you for advice?


November 25

Dear Jenny:

I have a dilemma. Every year I have an annual Christmas party, just a small gathering of a few family and friends. But unfortunately, one of my family members does not get along with one of my friends. I invited these two last year and it went OK, but since then they have had words. If I don't invite both of them I will hurt their feelings. I don't know what to do! I can't afford to have two parties. Do I just not have the party this year?

- Sarah from Sherman, Ill.

Jenny says: Perhaps you should set up a small kids' table, like we used to do around the holidays. But instead of putting the kids there, you should make your two friends sit at the table and you should pour them grape juice in wine glasses. Every once in a while go up to each of them, spit on your finger and rub their cheeks with your spit-covered digit like you're trying to scrape food off of their faces. Then ask them frequently in a high-pitched voice, "Do you have to go poopie? Tell me when you have to go poopie." And then explain to them, "If you are going to act like a child, I will treat you like a child."

And that means no vaccinations for you!


November 18

Dear Jenny :

I have epilepsy, which is under control and everything, but for some reason I still get really upset over people making comments and jokes about it. I've spoken to my mom about it, but she doesn't seem to care. I don't know how to tell people to back off, but in a really polite way.

- Colletta from Johannesburg, South Africa

Dear Colletta from the other side of the world: I wrote in a previous blog post about haters and why people say mean things. There is never a time that the person throwing an insult is not talking about themselves in one way or another. Love who you are, love what you see. Hate who you are, hate what you see - every single time.

As someone who has been assaulted with verbal insults, I can now easily separate myself from taking anything personally.

So this post is really about me?


November 11

Dear Jenny :

I have two kids in elementary school and I am friendly with the other moms. However, they keep inviting me to these "shopping parties" where I am supposed to go and have small talk and buy something (so that they get free stuff). I hate these parties - I don't enjoy small talk (it feels phony to me), and I don't need any overpriced candles, kitchen gadgets, jewelry, monogrammed bags, skin care, etc. How do I politely tell people I am not at all interested in going and to please stop inviting me?

- Louise from Bethlehem, Pa.

Jenny says: You're not alone. Believe me. I've been invited to plenty of those kinds of parties. I used to go, buy a vanilla-scented candle, small talk and then head home. Then I would give that same vanilla candle to the host as her birthday present.

Well, that's one way to not get invited back. Do you have to go poopie? Tell me when you have to go poopie.


Comments welcome.


See also: The Real Reasons Why Jenny McCarthy And Brian Urlacher Broke Up

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:44 AM | Permalink

Chief Keef: Baller Of Confusion

"On Tuesday, a 17-year-old South Side rapper born Keith Cozart but better known as Chief Keef [released] Finally Rich, his major-label debut for the morally vacuous Interscope Records," Jim DeRogatis writes on his WBEZ bog, Pop N Stuff.

"The album is a bleak, nihilistic celebration of street violence, gang culture, drug use, disrespect for women and the worship of the almighty dollar above all humanistic conscience, arriving as Chicago nears the end of a year that's seen an epidemic of violent killings in African-American neighborhoods every bit as tragic - and preventable, if the political will was present - as those in Newtown, Conn."

DeRogatis gives the record 0 stars.

"Chief Keef is a thick-tongued, mush-mouthed rapper with little grace and stilted flow who stumbles through generic, unimaginative, frequently plodding and numbingly repetitive backing tracks bragging with little imagination and forced conviction about his bad-ass self and utter disregard for anyone else in the universe."

Pitchfork, on the other hand, and as DeRogatis notes, gives Finally Rich a healthy 7.5 stars.

"There's an unquantifiable line separating the maddeningly catchy from the simply maddening, and Keef has a natural knack for walking it," Jayson Greene writes.

Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times also likes the record a lot more than DeRogatis, writing that "the 17-year-old Chicago thug offers infectious odes to nihilism and tirades against haters that are as simple-minded and catchy as they are brutal. Musically, however, the album shimmers with power, which makes the dozen songs feel even more dangerous."

And yet, AP's Jonathan Landrum Jr. writes that "Rapper Chief Keef made major noise with his omnipresent song, 'I Don't Like,' but those three words also describe my thoughts on his major label debut."

Has critical reaction ever been so all over the board?

Maybe Leor Gaiil of the Reader sums it up best: "Chief Keef's Finally Rich is good, bad, and mostly OK."

But really? More than anything, the critics seem confused.

Paste: "Sadly, Finally Rich largely falls flat: Keef's persona feels genuine, but his sentiments feel hollow, his flow robotic and stale."

Consequence of Sound: "[Keef has] an implacable knack for hooks so catchy they'll be lodged in your head before they come around the second time. The moral? Keef's rapid ascent is not only unsurprising, it's justified, too . . . But ultimately, Finally Rich exposes the limits of Keef's chosen lane and, worse, doesn't point toward a more optimal route."

Greg Kot, Tribune: "Finally Rich sounds of a piece with Keef's sparse, menacing mix tapes . . . But Keef is a remote presence on his major-label debut."

The Versed: "In fact, there are a handful of tracks here where Keef completely destroys the solid production behind him. In all honesty, you could probably give him 5 spots on a '10 worst songs of 2012 list' and be completely justified. 'Laughin' To The Bank' might be the worst song that's ever seen a major label release, regardless of genre, and that's no exaggeration."

I dunno, I've heard worse. Maybe it's just the truest song that's ever seen a major label release.


See also: David Drake's informative and insightful "Hail To The Chief."


* South Side 16-Year-Old Gets Shot, Blows Up

* Rhymefest vs. Chief Keef

* Chief Keef's Deadly Rap War

* More Sh!t Chief Keef Don't Like

* Chief Keef Loves Soda, Ain't White


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

December 18, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

News you can abuse.

1. Squeezy Is A State Secret.

"The birth of Squeezy was apparently so secretive that Quinn's attorneys blocked out information that might reveal exactly who came up with the concept," Kurt Erickson reports in the Pantagraph.

Our response.

2. Cook Illustrated.

"A judge presiding over the involuntary manslaughter case against a nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley recused himself from the politically charged case, citing his own ties to Daley," WBEZ reports.

Vanecko lawyer Marc Martin must have really wanted that judge because he was livid.

"We are really outraged by the fact that because some newspaper reporters think that Cook County judges can't be fair that this case has to be reassigned," Martin said.

Because a judge weak enough to be influenced by what some newspaper reporters think will be strong enough to not be influenced by the fact that he once worked for the defendant's uncle, who happens to be named Richard M. Daley. Thanks for playing!


How Cook County judges are made.


Martin also stated that the "state's witnesses in this case are liars."

As Carol Marin pointed out on Chicago Tonight last night, the only person we know for sure has lied so far is a friend of Vanecko's.


And the only witnesses in this case who have refused to cooperate with police? Vanecko and at least some of his friends.

3. It's Pat.

"This year, with little explanation or discussion, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has fought to keep reporters out of state prisons, including Vienna," Rob Wildeboer reports for WBEZ.

"Reporters were allowed in a couple of weeks ago though, but only after WBEZ threatened to sue Quinn and the Department of Corrections.

"I regret we didn't represent ourselves better than we had in the past, but the fact is we've never changed policies," said IDOC director Tony Godinez in a meeting with reporters who came for the prison tour. "If you present the proposal and what you want to do, we then take a look at it and I weigh in on whether or not it's beneficial to all of us."

Italics mine. Inference yours.

4. Bush's Fourth Term.

CIA Heir Apparent Leaks Officer's Name to Filmmakers; Kiriakou Gets Jail for Giving Torturer's Name.

5. University of Point Break.

If only it had been a package from Bodhi, then I would have been interested.

6. Bankster.

"Robert Glickman, former CEO of the largest Chicago bank to fail since the onset of the financial crisis, has escaped a personal financial reckoning for his role in Corus Bank's demise. But that may change soon," Crain's reports.

Good. Let's balance the budget on his back.

7. Skyjacking at United.

"After years of divisive negotiations between United Airlines and its pilots, union members on Saturday ratified a new labor agreement, shedding a bankruptcy-era contract for pilots and marking an important step toward fully integrating United and Continental airlines, which officially merged in 2010," the Tribune reported last weekend.

But footnoted, as is so often the case, has the real story:

"[W]e're always fascinated by the things that companies take to the Friday night dump - that magical window on a Friday night after the market closes, but the SEC remains open. It's no coincidence that the number of 8Ks filed during those 90 minutes is significantly higher than any other 90 minute period during the rest of the week, as we noted in this WSJ article last month.

But this short and sweet 8-K that United Continental (UAL) filed late Friday seemed particularly interesting, given the fact that on Saturday, the Air Line Pilots Association announced that the pilots at both United and Continental approved a joint collective bargaining agreement.

According to the union's press release, 67% of pilots approved the agreement, with over 97% of the 10,193 eligible pilots voting. This WSJ piece has some of the details: the new 4-year deal provides hefty signing bonuses followed by an 8.5% raise in Jan. 2014 and three subsequent annual raises of 3%.

That seems like a good deal until you compare it to the even better deal that the airline's Chief Revenue Officer and newly named Vice Chairman James E. Compton got, according to the 8-K that was filed at 5:28:47 - a little more than a minute before the SEC's electronic window closed for the night. As the filing notes, the company's board raised Compton's salary to to $875,000.

But the filing is silent on how much of a raise that is. To get that, you have to flip to the proxy filed last April, which shows that Compton's base salary in 2011 was $750K, which represents a 16.7% raise effective immediately. Compare that to the pilots who will have to wait another year before their 8.5% raise kicks in.

Nice job, Jimmy. When the revolution comes, we totally won't be looking for you first.


"Compton holds a bachelor of science and master's degree in economics from the University of Illinois Chicago."

And he's been profiting at your expense ever since.

8. The Jonah Hill Side of Sears.

"Sears Holdings Corp. today announced the election of Paul DePodesta, vice president of player development and amateur scouting for the New York Mets, to its board of directors," Danny Ecker reports for Crain's.

"You might not recognize the name as a character from the movie Moneyball (neither he nor his likeness was in it), but the former assistant to Billy Beane was one of a few real people who formed 'Peter Brand,' Jonah Hill's economic whiz character from the film."

If nothing else, their company softball teams are about to get a whole lot better.

9. Chicago Has Gangnam Style.

10. Bill Kurtis's Tallgrass Beef Not In Tall Cotton.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Big & Tall, Short & Small.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

Bill Kurtis's Tallgrass Beef Not In Tall Cotton

Bill Kurtis has been fined just shy of $403,000 by the USDA for failure to pay suppliers of his "troubled" Tallgrass Beef Company.

"The past few years have not been easy for Mr. Kurtis, who started Tallgrass Beef Company in 2005," Crain's reports.

"The Sedan, Kansas-based company that supplies grass-fed, grass-finished beef to upscale Chicago-area restaurants such as Harry Caray's, Frontera Grill and Prairie Grass Cafe, has long struggled as a small player in a big industry, and Mr. Kurtis, Tallgrass' chairman, says the recession made matters worse.

"In 2010, several of his suppliers filed a complaint against Tallgrass for non-payment. Now he's reached a negotiated settlement with the USDA and says he's pleased he's closer to putting this chapter behind him and keeping his business alive."


Background from the Tallgrass website:

"Founded in 2005 by broadcast journalist Bill Kurtis, Tallgrass Beef Company is the industry leader in the production of grass-fed, grass-finished beef in the United States. After purchasing his 10,000 acre ranch near the town of Sedan, Kansas, Kurtis was compelled to find a sustainable method of raising cattle that was not only good for the environment, but also the animals themselves and the American food consumer. This was the genesis of Tallgrass Beef Company.

"Today Tallgrass Beef Company is comprised of a network of family farmers and ranchers across the United States that produce grass-fed, grass-finished cattle according to a strict set of protocols. These stringent standards ensure that food consumers are buying the safest, healthiest, most nutritious beef possible. Tallgrass Beef is a favorite among consumers seeking a healthy, humane source of beef.

"In addition to being available for purchase by consumers online, Tallgrass Beef became the first grass-fed, grass-finished product served in many of Chicago's finest restaurants, with a roster of clients featuring James Beard Award Winning chefs Rick Bayless (owner of Chicago's Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, and XOCO restaurants), Charlie Trotter, George Bumbaris and Sarah Stegner. Harry Caray's, Praire Grass Cafe, Frontera Grill, and Topolobombo serve Tallgrass. The brand has expanded to the West Coast where Tallgrass Beef is available in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Tallgrass Beef products are also available in select grocery stores, including Sunset Foods and Fox and Obel in Chicago; Fairway Markets in New York; and Sendik's Markets in Milwaukee.

"Much like the cattlemen of the old west, Bill Kurtis started Tallgrass Beef with a vision of a healthy, sustainable, delicious beef source for the American consumer. With a steady annual growth rate and a loyal customer following, Tallgrass Beef Company provides customers with a sustainable alternative to traditionally raised and processed beef."


From the company's Wikipedia entry:

"Tallgrass' production process involves scientists employed by the company searching the United States for cattle whose genetics naturally causes the animal to fatten quickly and tenderly on grass. Beef producers have no databank of DNA with which to compare their findings, and so Tallgrass scientists use ultrasound technology to determine the tenderness of its potential herds. The company philosophy places a greater emphasis on the quality of production than the feedlot system."


Unfortunately, Tallgrass has had a problem paying its suppliers.

"On Oct. 23, USDA'S Grain, Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) assessed Tallgrass a $402,816 civil penalty as part of a consent decision requiring it to 'cease and desist' from: 'failing to pay, when due, the full purchase price of livestock; engaging in the business of a packer when its financial condition does not meet the requirements of the Packers and Stockyards Act; and engaging in the business of a packer without maintaining a bond or bond equivalent,'" Crain's reports.

"According to documents from [a] 2010 hearing, as of Nov. 30, 2009, Tallgrass owed close to four dozen livestock sellers a total of $1.6 million. At the time, the company reported liabilities of $4.5 million and assets totaling $1.3 million.

"As a result of the 2010 hearing, and following several continuances, Tallgrass worked out a payment plan that has been monitored by GIPSA, so that the amount owed the livestock producers has decreased from $1.6 million to the $352,000. The latest ruling sets December 31, 2013 as the deadline for paying the suppliers, plus a $50,000 fine."


"When this happened, everyone advised me to declare bankruptcy," Kurtis told Crain's, "but I didn't want to do that and I'm proud of the decision."


How BH Capital helped, from last May:


A couple cows speak.


Off the local news soon.

"Two years ago, CBS 2 management asked me and Walter to return to WBBM-TV and help re-establish Channel 2's news," Kurtis said in a statement. "While we are well on our way, our return was never intended to last more than a couple of years. Come 2013, I need more time to focus on my other businesses."




Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

Chicago Has Gangnam Style

The most inescapable and undeniable song of the year was PSY's "Gangnam Style," a sly satire of the insipid materialism and faux class of Seoul's Gangnam District, which the artist has described as his country's Beverly Hills.

The video is the most-watched YouTube upload of all-time - and also the most "liked." It's also likely the most parodied.

PSY performed the song in Chicago for the first time over the weekend. So here's the original video, that performance, and the "best" Chicago versions we've found.

1. The original.


2. In Rosemont on Saturday night.


3. Desi Flash Mob.


4. Chicago Style.


5. Maxima Chicago Gangnam Style.


6. UIC.


7. Chicago Korean Festival.


8. With Marshall the Marshmallow.


9. By Brett Sterling of the Chicago Wolves.


10. Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.


11. Chicago Marathon.


12. NBA ref at a Bulls game.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

"Rahm Wants New Gun Laws in Wake of Newtown School Shooting," NBC5 Chicago - and others - reported over the weekend.

Of course. And wouldn't it be nice to suspend our cynicism in the wake of such a tragedy.

Well, I will if they will.

For example, consider this weekend tweet from Rahm:

Now consider what Rahm did as Barack Obama's chief of staff (and previously as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee).

To which Karen Lewis expressed little surprise.

So back to you Rahm: STFU.

Fundamental Health
Nancy Lanza, the mother of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, reportedly was a gun enthusiast who had a legal and registered collection of weapons, though it seems a bit odd that she would own a Bushmaster, if that was indeed hers.

But like many similar incidents, this story is at least as much about mental illness as gun control, though there is an obvious intersection.

In November, I wrote this item:

Father Fixation
"A Deerfield woman charged with stalking the Rev. Michael Pfleger told authorities that God told her that she was supposed to marry the priest, prosecutors said today."

A piece of toast shaped like Jesus told her so.

I thought more than twice before joking about a person obviously suffering from some sort of mental illness, but followed with this item:

Insane Surplus
Emanuel Has $4 Million After NATO Tab Settled.

Gee, that's more than enough to open a few mental health clinics to keep our clergy safe.

A longtime reader called me out for what she thought was a poor choice running the first item, and I agreed. I thought in combination with the second item I was making the point that we're all endangered by the inadequacies of our mental health care system - even more so as officials like Rahm find it easier to cut funding for the most vulnerable instead of asking for sacrifice from those who can best afford it (and from those who caused the financial meltdown we're trying to recover from and seemed to have escaped unscathed.)

I apologized to that reader for not executing better in making my point, which I am reiterating here.

Hitting The Trifecta
* At Schools, An Upsurge In Mental Health Crises.

* State Mental Health Cuts Hit Low-Income Patients Hard.

* Justice Dept. Shelved Ideas To Improve Gun Background Checks.

CPS Response
"Chicago Public Schools officials say principals have been asked to review their existing safety plans and grief counselors will be on hand Monday," AP reports.

"School officials say CPS schools have been vigilant in conducting drills for tornadoes, fires and lockdowns situations, which would cover a school shooting."

Dog Team
"A team of golden retrievers made an 800-mile journey from the Chicago area to Newtown, Conn., over the weekend to comfort those affected by the recent school massacre," the Tribune reports.

"Lutheran Church Charities deployed about 10 of the canines Saturday evening for residents who want to pet them while they talk or pray with the dog's handler, said Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization."

From the QT Archive of Knowledge
+ There were 98,411 gun homicides in the United States from 2003 to 2010.
+ Comes to three 9/11s a year.

In today's QT.

Political Odds
Updated since the weekend's Dem slating session, but not by much. Very little has changed.

And as Dan Mihalopoulos reports in the Sun-Times, gun control was barely mentioned at that the party confab.

"[T]he day after the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the would-be members of Congress did not address the issue of gun control in their public speeches," Mihalopoulos reports.

Bill Beavers found it appropriate to make a joke at Donne Trotter's expense ' "Have gun , will travel!" - but otherwise party leaders declined to suss out differences in each candidate's position on the issue.

"Instead, they sought and received confirmation that virtually all the most prominent candidates to succeed Jackson are in favor of abortion rights and they learned that the only significant player in the race who opposes gay rights is Napoleon Harris, the retired pro football player and state senator-elect.

"Austin also asked almost everybody how they would help her develop a big, old industrial site in her ward. Ald. Leslie Hairston sought positions on long-running dispute over the re-construction of the Promontory Point shoreline - limestone or concrete? - in her lakefront 5th Ward."

I'm guessing there was no discussion of mental health issues either.


"If the Democratic bosses had bothered to ask some questions about gun control , they might have found more reason to sort out a favorite," Mihalopoulos points out.

"State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields voted with the National Rifle Association's positions 92 percent of the time and has enjoyed the Illinois State Rifle Association's endorsement. Rival Deborah Halvorson, a former congresswoman from Crete, also had NRA backing.

"At the other end of the spectrum were Robin Kelly (a lifetime grade of F from the NRA for her votes while a state lawmaker) and the pistol-packing Trotter (only voted with the pro- gun lobby 33 percent of the time)."

I don't presume at all that the district automatically would prefer the positions of Kelly and Trotter - the opposite is just as likely to be true if I understand the district correctly. But that makes for some clear choices between candidates who probably agree on much more than they disagree and it would be nice to know more.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Gangnam Style.

Tipping Point For Lovie
"If nothing else, we need someone else to kick around around here," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

Listen to Coffman talk Bears with Rick Kogan on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift later today.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Hypoallergenic for your protection.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Tipping Point For Lovie

Jim "Coach" Coffman talks Bears with Rick Kogan on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift every Monday afternoon.

At this point it shouldn't be about whether Lovie Smith will be fired. It should be a matter of taking responsibility for the year-after-year failure to lead a team to even one win against its historic rival. And it should be an acknowledgement of failure to deliver on what the coach enthusiastically if laboriously acknowledged was his first priority when he was hired.

The Bears shouldn't have to fire Lovie Smith. He should step down at the end of the season.

Or he should admit that all that stuff about the importance of beating the Packers was bunk . . . which it was. A coach's first priority is to win championships, for gosh sakes. And if the Bears make the playoffs (still clearly a possibility with road games remaining against only the miserable Cardinals and Lions), they'll have a chance to win a championship.

That should have been the focus all along.

We know the coach whose team lost its sixth straight (including playoffs) to the Packers 21-13 on Sunday won't be resigning before he is fired (for one thing, he would be giving away more than $5 million bucks due to him in the final year of his contract).

And he won't ever admit that saying that beating the Packers was the most important thing was bullshit, especially considering that edict came from the McCaskeys.

But it says here that barring a shocking playoff performance by his team (a first-round victory as a wild card and at least competitiveness against one of the top two seeds), it will be bye-bye Lovie at the end of the year.

A tipping point was reached with this latest loss. It is now more probable that he will get the axe than that he will stay on as coach.

If nothing else, we need someone else to kick around around here.

And I'm definitely not on board with just firing yet another offensive coordinator. Mike Tice has struggled in his first year calling plays (more on that in a moment) and if Smith gets the boot, Tice almost certainly will as well. But the Bears desperately need some continuity on offense from this year to next. Surely sticking Jay Cutler with yet another overall offensive scheme isn't going to improve matters.

The wild card will be quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. The Bears brought him in almost exclusively on Cutler's recommendation and whoever might be head coaching next year would be well-advised to hang onto him. Bates does have experience as an offensive coordinator. But he was fired by the Seahawks in 2010 after only one season at the helm.
Maybe Cutler can be a player/coordinator with assistance from his buddy/coach Bates.

Lovie's Bus
The worst thing that could have happened to the Bears offense did: Success with the run right off the bat.

The Bears are still determined to establish the run first, foremost and forever despite the presence on the roster of a potentially great quarterback.

So they keep running and running and running some more on first downs. And they never transition from running to the first-down play action passes that all the best offenses use to actually make big plays and start piling up points.

Of course, all of that conservative play-calling also dovetails with weakness in pass protection, but that is a topic for another day.

After the Bears ran for three first downs on their first drive, they proceeded to run for 1 and -3 yards on first and second downs the next time they had the ball. Third-and-long was then followed by the inevitable punt.

On their next possession, the Bears did start with a pass to Matt Forte. It seemed like progress but the pass was incomplete and soon the team was punting again. The time after that, Forte ran for no gain on first down. Later in that drive a first down rush netted three yards but then a second-down scamper resulted in 22 and a few plays later, Brandon Marshall was going in for the score.

Then the offense really bogged down. With four minutes left in the half the Bears got the ball back with the score tied. Two Forte rushes resulted in zero and -2. After another punt, the defense held and the Bears got the ball right back but that was when Jay Cutler proceeded to throw his worst pass of the season for the interception that set the Packers up to take the lead for good.

On the Bears' first possession of the second half, after they had fallen behind 21-7, Forte ran for five yards on the first play. After a pass for a first down, Forte again took the handoff on the following first-down play and, as he had so frequently in the first half, gained nothing to set up second-and-long. Soon the team was punting again.

At that point, the Bears had squandered enough possessions to ensure that the rest of the game would be a futile scramble to rally from too far down. Memo to Mike Tice et al: You have to be more aggressive earlier in the games. Modern Offensive Football 101 practically starts with the lesson that early success running the football does not mean just keep running and running. Early success running the football sets up fake runs and gives receivers much better chances to get open.

But that's Bears football - no matter how the offensive coordinator is. And that's why it's Lovie who must go.

Lovie Wire
* Urlacher Tackles Fans, Media In Defense Of Smith.

* Smith: Playoffs Are Still A Reality For Bears.

* Haugh: Fading Team Needs Change.

* Mariotti: Lovie Smith Era Is Over.

* Couch: Bears Must Fire Lovie.

* Schefter: Lovie's Last Home Game?

* Matt Spiegel singing on The Score: "Lovie's nuts roasting on an open fire . . . "


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

QT: A Wingnut And A Prayer

The Case for the Separation of Church and Everything:
Evangelist Bryan Fischer announced that the little boys and girls in Newtown, Conn., died because prayer is no longer allowed in public schools.
He explained that God is a "gentleman," and gentlemen do not go where they are not wanted.
He said children in the future will be safe if they "pray for protection" every morning in school.


News Headline: "Chicago: 10 shot including 4 teens."
News Headline: "More than 50 shots fired at California mall."
News Headline: "Shots fired near school in North Las Vegas."
And just how is it we managed to be shocked at what happened in Newtown?


News Headline: "President Obama: 'Newtown, you are not alone.'"
News Headline: "Obama: 'Meaningful action' needed to prevent shootings."
And maybe, maybe, this time we will. . . .
Just kidding.


News Item (December 10): Astronomers discover Asteroid 2012 XE54.
Which passed between Earth and the moon two days later.
News Item (December 13): Astronomers discover Asteroid 2012 XB112.
Which passed between Earth and the moon a day later.
News Item (December 14): Astronomers discover Asteroid 2012 XL134.
Which passed between Earth and the moon during the weekend.
So figure the Mayan killer asteroid for December 21 will be discovered in a couple of days.
Hey. C'mon.
This is science.


News Headline: "Big Ten expansion a money game."
News Headline: "With tradition gone, the Big Ten has no reason not to keep expanding."
R.M., a Chicago reader, regarding QT's asking for new division names to replace "Legends" and "Leaders," such as "Cash" and "Carry" or "Bait" and "Switch," suggests "Bought" and "Paid For."
Or. . . .


News Headline: "Millionaire pockets part of donations sent to Salvation Army."
News Headline: "Christmas season: Prostitutes hike prices."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


Henry Kisor, an Evanston reader, regarding an agreement between QT and its readers to let go of a growing list of variations on the movie title Snakes on a Plane, in other words, to put the remakes on the wane, writes:
"If one twists one's ankle, can one blame the aches on the sprain?"
Why do QT's readers continue to traipse on this terrain?


QT Modern Corporate Gibberish of the Week:
Emulex has acquired Endace.


QT Trickle-On Economics Update:
The average American CEO, who was paid 325 times as much as the average worker in 2010, is now paid 380 times as much, for those who think we have been heading in the right direction.


News Headline: "Uncertainty weighing on industry, Cisco CEO says."
News Headline: "Uncertainty stifling business investment: TMX CEO."
News Headline: "Verizon CEO: Uncertainty preventing hiring."
QT Abridged Too Far Dictionary of the English Language:
uncertainty noun 1. the state of being uncertain. 2. doubt. 3. in other words, what everyone in the world faces every day. 4. and which many work to find ways to overcome. 5. except for, say, the nation's CEOs. 6. who are evidently a bunch of buttercups.


News Headline: "Kim Jong Il's exploits praised in Bulgaria."
Slow news day in North Korea.


From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ There were 98,411 gun homicides in the United States from 2003 to 2010.
+ Comes to three 9/11s a year.


News Headline: "Christmas carnage kicks off across Britain as drunken revelers stretch emergency services."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
J. M.C., a Tucson, Ariz., reader, writes:
"Will people who constantly say 'quote unquote' please stop using their fingers? I know what quotation marks look like. The same 'quote unquote' people always say, 'between you and I,' mischiev-EE-ous, and nu-Q-lur, by the way."
There is no SAIL in the pronouncing of "wassail," by the way.

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:06 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. PSY in Rosemont on Saturday night.


2. The Witch Was Right at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


3. Sister Hazel at the House of Blues on Friday night.


4. Ed Sheeran at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.


5. Punch Brothers and The Milk Carton Kids at the Vic on Thursday night.


6. Upon This Dawning at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


7. Motionless in White at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


8. Cassino at the Tonic Room on Friday night.


9. Chelsea Grin at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


10. Stick To Your Guns at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


11. Kenny Neal at Reggie's on Friday night.


12. Steve Aoki at the Congress on Saturday night.


13. Of Monsters And Men at the Riv on Sunday night.


14. Sufjan Stevens at the Metro on Saturday night.


15. Catherine Irwin at the Hideout on Friday night (photos only).


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:19 AM | Permalink

December 15, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

What's worse than a blowhard? A blowhard who might have a point.

Market Update
To be fair, doesn't "Moody" sort of imply a negative outlook to begin with? It's not like the firm is called "Cheerful's" or anything.

A recent reduction in water levels has revealed a shipwreck in Lake Michigan. In related news, a proposed reduction in crowding has revealed a total train wreck.

More Like "Plastered-Don . . . "
Quick: find one sentence in this article that makes sense.

Right To Not Work
At a recent lame duck session, Michigan's legislature passed a law that undermines union power. In related news, a lame-assed sports league filed a lawsuit to preserve union power.

Right-Sized Remission
Finally this week, it appears saying something doesn't necessarily make it true. In related news, ditto.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Elephantine.


The College Football Report: Potatoes, Credit Unions And Basic Branded Apparel.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Every year Jim and Greg set out the cookies and milk, hoping for a visit from Sound Opinions' own Kris Kringle, crate-digging DJ Andy Cirzan. This year, Andy joins us for a special soul music edition of our Holiday Spectacular: Santa Soul.

"Download Andy's Santa Soul compilation before before our January 1st deadline!

"And if you enjoy our free gift plus all the free podcasts we provide throughout the year, consider a gift to support Sound Opinions. Thanks and Happy Holidays!"


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

Community Forum: Position of Pressure


Sabrina Childress of Position of Pressure shares its grassroots approach to preventing and addressing domestic violence in the lives of teens and young adults.

Saturday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.


Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation (ILLCF) Conference: Reflections on the Past . . . An Agenda for the Future

The ILLCF celebrates 10 years of successes and examines strategies to advance the agenda of the Latino community in the realms of education, health care, jobs, immigration, and more.

Lunch Keynote


The ILLCF Conference's Master of Ceremonies, Lourdes Duarte of WGN-TV, delivers a lunchtime keynote and celebrates new ILLCF college scholarship recipients.

Saturday, December 15 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr.


Opening Session


Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for PBS's The News Hour, highlights the "browning of America," where members of ethnicities currently defined as minorities will make up the majority of Americans by 2042.

Sunday, December 16 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr.


Health, Health Care, and Responsibility


State senator William Delgado joins a panel of health professionals in examining the issues facing Latino workers and patients in today's health care system.

Sunday, December 16 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.


Economic Growth and Job Creation


Jorge Perez of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association moderates this panel on the state of employment in the Latino community and the impact of current economic conditions on Latino workers and businesses.

Sunday, December 16 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


Immigration Reform


Lawrence Benito of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights facilitates a roundtable of local organizations and law enforcement officials examining the impact of immigration reform on the Latino community.

Sunday, December 16 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


Latina Leadership


Latina professionals relate the impact they and other Latina women are having on the public and private sectors today.

Sunday, December 16 at 3 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 15 min.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:32 AM | Permalink

December 14, 2012

The College Football Report: Potatoes, Credit Unions And Branded Basic Apparel

Bowl season, the annual rite of postseason pageantry, is upon us.

And so too is our annual bowl preview. This year we'll take it week-by-week for the freshest views and latest lines.

This week's festivities feature a host of midsize mammals, aerial contraptions, and an ethnic group out of Central Mexico. Without further to-do, here are the games, teams, season records, the path each team traveled, and the bottom line: Our picks.

Game: Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 15, ESPN, 1 p.m. (University Stadium, Albuquerque,)

Teams: Nevada Wolfpack (7-5, 4-4 MWC) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12)

How they got here: Both teams looked good at times during the regular season. Arizona started out 3-0 and ranked in the Top 25 (#22) before a crushing defeat by Oregon (49-0) followed by close losses to Oregon State and Stanford. Just like that, and 'Zona's hopes for not playing in a bowl game not sponsored by "a marketer and globally low-cost vertically integrated manufacturer of branded basic apparel" went out the window.

To top off the season, Arizona lost another close game (41-34) to intrastate rival Arizona State. So while the Wildcats get a trip to Albuquerque, ASU will play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on December 29.

While the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl may not belong amongst the top flight bowls, it is sponsored by a name brand and not a manufacturer of crappy sports gear.

On the plus side, Zona can catch a showing of Mariachi Christmas while in The Duke City.

Here are two things we don't know and don't care to learn about Albuquerque: one, why it's called The Duke City and, two, how to spell Albuquerque. Thank you, autocorrect.

The Wolfpack are also disappointed to be playing in the New Mexico Bowl. Not only is it in New Mexico, an especially unimpressive location if you live in Nevada, but the Wolfpack had high hopes after going 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.

The Mountain West Conference has long been dominated by Boise State but with the Broncos departing for what may or not still be the Big East, the Wolfpack saw an opportunity to emerge from the pack, if you will.

However, Nevada's remaining opponents seemed to realize that those 6 Ws had come against the likes of Texas State, Wyoming, and Northwestern State, and the air of mystery surrounding the Wolfpack evaporated in three consecutive losses, a dead cat bounce victory over Utah, and an "L" to Boise to end the season.

Comment: Handicapping bowl games, especially early games between underachieving teams, can be challenging. In this case, we will go with the team from the better conference.

Vegas doesn't take action on the "total" for game time - that sort of nonsense can only be found online or offshore - otherwise we would go heavy on the over. The over/under for the point total opened at 76 and has moved steadily upward, reaching 77.5 by Thursday evening, which should make for plenty of scoring and thus plenty of commercial breaks.

This strikes us as the sort of game where you might catch a few minutes of the first half, go out to lunch, pick up your dry cleaning, refill your prescriptions, and return to the couch to find that it is still the first quarter with the score tied 21-21.

Pick: Arizona -9


Game: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Time: Saturday, December 15, ESPN, 4:30 p.m. (Bronco Stadium, Boise)

Teams: Toledo Rockets (9-3, 6-2 MAC) vs. #22 Utah State Aggies (10-2, 6-0 WAC)

How they got here: Utah State flew Delta from Salt Lake City and Toledo flew a rocket.

Comment: What is it with Ohio teams? Ohio schools include the Rockets, the Dayton Flyers, the Akron Zips, the Bowling Green Falcons, the Kent State Golden Flashes, the Miami Redhawks, the Ohio University Bobcats, and the Cincinnati Bearcats. (Note: the Buckeyes are excluded as for the purposes of the 2013 season, as OSU does not have a football team in any way that counts.)

Why can't OU and Cincy get with the program and pick some type of airborne and/or fast-moving mascot instead of the bogus feline options? Bearcats don't even exist. I think some enterprising young Ohio state congressperson should introduce a bill to rename the Bobcats the Whizzers and the Bearcats the Zooms.

Pick: The bookmakers must know more than we do, because we are mildly surprised to see a double-digit line in this game. All the same, we like Toledo getting (+10.5) the points.

UPDATE: Bearcats do exist! Apparently, the bearcat is among thirty some-odd species of midsize mammals making up the Viverridae family. The viverrids, in addition to sounding like an awesome punk rock band name, include the genets (all of them; as it turns out there is more than one variety of genet), the binturong (more band names), the civets (various), and the African linsangs (assorted). Basically, all you need to know about viverrids is that they resemble tree-dwelling, feline-ish raccoons and that they can't be trusted with your wallet.


Game: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Time: Thursday, December 20, ESPN, 8 p.m. (Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego)

Teams: BYU Cougars (7-5) vs. San Diego St. Aztecs (9-3, 7-1 MWC)

How they got here: The Cougars left the Mountain West two years ago to play as an independent, leaving behind long-time rival San Diego State. The teams had shared a conference since 1978, most recently the MWC where the two faced off for 13 consecutive seasons.

The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl will bring the two back together in the reincarnation of the original Poinsettia Bowl, a championship game between the military services, first held in 1952. Thursday will mark the eighth contest since the game returned in 2005 after a 50 year siesta, now matching up a Mountain West team against BYU, with Army taking the place of the Cougars next year provided the Black Knights are bowl eligible.

Comment: The SDCCUPB feels a bit like a set-up. The Aztecs will get plenty of love from the home crowd, including the crews from the San Diego naval base. The Poinsettia Bowl isn't new turf for the Aztecs either, having won handily over Navy in 2010. Despite the mediocre record, the Cougars must have something going for them based on the number, but we can't figure out what.

Pick: San Diego State +2.5


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Five days after Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress, his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson, filed a series of amendments to her ward committee's campaign fund, revealing dozens of previously undisclosed transactions that went back three years," the Sun-Times reports.

"That includes at least $13,000 in previously undisclosed transfers from her husband's congressional account into her ward organization account, a Sun-Times review of campaign records show.

"In all, Sandi Jackson's ward organization filed eight amended reports, dating back to 2009. Some of the corrected reports now indicate negative balances - something that an official with the Illinois State Board of Elections said could result in a review."

Perhaps the work of Whitney Burns - in response to pressure from the feds to set things right.

McCaskey Field
"Presiding over her first meeting today as head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, incoming chief executive officer Kelly Kraft sought to address the growing debt load from Soldier Field renovations completed in 2001," the Tribune reports.

"Kraft and the public agency's seven-member board of directors agreed to select financial advisors who would determine how to refinance the bonds for the project. The public's share of the costs has been estimated at $432 million."

The Chicago Bears franchise has last been valued at $1.19 billion. Perhaps they can get off the bus helping.

"Hundreds of workers at O'Hare International Airport are losing their jobs Friday under a new deal with the city of Chicago," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"The city says the deal will save millions."


It's not exactly fair, Rahm acknowledged.

Oh wait. That's what he said about a tax break for the Merc.


So Rahm is taking from janitors, teachers, schools, the poor, police officers, firefighters, the mentally ill and CTA customers and giving to developers, corporations and billionaires (with more on the way).

It's Rahm Hood!


"Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday that restoring free water service to churches and nonprofit agencies as some aldermen suggest would reverse a campaign promise he has fulfilled," the Tribune reports.

After all, that was the "cornerstone" of his economic agenda.

Oh wait.


So add churches, hospitals and non-profits to the list. It's Rahm Paul!

Romney's Rahm's Obama's America
Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low.


"[Tyree] Johnson, 44, needs the two paychecks to pay rent for his apartment at a single-room occupancy hotel on the city's North Side. While he's worked at McDonald's stores for two decades, he still doesn't get 40 hours a week and makes $8.25 an hour, minimum wage in Illinois," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

From Squeezy To Queasy
Please stop, Pat.

A Chicago Lawyer Does Good
Southwest Owes 5.8 Million Free Beers To Passengers.


I wonder if he'd be interested in running for mayor.

Cheese And . . .
CBS2 Chicago afraid to use the word "cracker" in non-story.


Not so much "chink," though.


Jay's Way
"Report: Cutler has sprained MCL, will play Sunday."

For those not familiar with medical jargon, MCL stands for Major Chipmunk Likeness.

Chicago Values
Rahm welcomes Dow Chemical to the city.

Apparently they are less harmful than Chick-fil-A.

Canada Has A Holiday Train Too!
And it just came through town, sort of.

Kate Hudson vs. the U.S. Air Force
Equally adept at keeping secrets. In QT.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Rotten Finko & The Convicts, Angel Olsen, Kid Daytona and Kaleidoscope.

The College Football Report
Potatoes, Credit Unions & Branded Apparel.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Huzzah.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

Canada Has A Holiday Train Too!

Here's the Canadian Pacific Railway's holiday train pulling into Tomah, Wisconsin, this week on its way from the East Coast to Minneapolis and beyond. (Spotted in Pingree Grove, Illinois, on December 5th.)


From Wikipedia:

Starting in 1999, the CPR runs a Holiday Train along its main line during the months of November and December. The Holiday Train celebrates the holiday season and collects donations for community food banks and hunger issues. The Holiday Train also provides publicity for Canadian Pacific and a few of its customers.

Each train has a box car stage for entertainers who are traveling along with the train. Artists such as Johnny Reid, Tracey Brown, Melanie Doane, The Odds, Valdy, The Brothers Dube, Sydney Grigg and Willy Porter have been part of the festivities.

The train is a freight train, but also pulls vintage passenger cars which are used as lodging/transportation for the entertainers.

Only entertainers and CP employees are allowed to board the train. Since its launch in 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised close to $6.4 million CAD and about 2.6 million pounds of food for North American food banks. All donations collected in a community remain in that community for distribution.

In 2011 there were two trains, covering Canada and the United States Northeast and Midwest. Each Holiday Train is about 1,000 feet in length with brightly decorated rail cars, including a modified box car that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers. They are each decorated with hundred of thousands of LED Christmas lights.

For 2012, both the Canadian and United States versions of the Holiday Train began their tours on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. Their progress, as well as three EMD GP38-2 locomotives maintained in the Delaware & Hudson paint scheme, can be monitored on the Heritage Units tracking site.

Also from Wikipedia:

"Major filming for the 1976 movie Silver Streak, a fictional comedy tale of a murder-infested train trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, was done on the CPR, mainly in the Alberta area with station footage at Toronto's Union Station. The train set was so lightly disguised as the fictional 'AMRoad' that the locomotives and cars still carried their original names and numbers, along with the easily identifiable CP Rail red-striped paint scheme."


See also:
* The Holiday Train Is The Best Damn Thing The CTA Does.

* KLM's Boom Chicago Holiday Flight.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rotten Finko And The Convicts at the Liar's Club on Wednesday night.


2. Kaleidoscope at Reggie's on Monday night.


3. Angel Olsen at Saki on Sunday.


4. The Kid Daytona at Subterranean on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

QT: Taliban Has Its Say

A Taliban leader in Afghanistan explaining what is important in society:
"Firefighters and police officers are vital to society. Teachers are not."
About what you'd expect from--
No. Wait.
Those are the words of a Tea Party leader in California.


News Headline: "Obama dares Congress to fight over Susan Rice, then drops it."
Or as Admiral David Farragut ordered at the Battle of Mobile Bay:
Damn! Torpedoes! Full speed aback!
Or something like that.


A Republic, If You Can Keep It:
A third of Americans have no idea who Susan Rice is.


News Headline: "Thieves step up activities for Christmas season."
News Headline: "Cops send card to criminals with gun-toting police chief in Santa costume."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


News Item (December 10): Astronomers discover Asteroid 2012 XE54.
Which passed between Earth and the moon two days later.
News Item (December 13): Astronomers discover Asteroid 2012 XB112.
Which is passing between Earth and the moon as you read this.
Ho, Ho, Ho!


News Headline: "Swaziland to raise witch-doctor tax in financial crisis."
No. Won't work here. The witch-doctor lobby is too strong.


Habemus Tweet.
Pope Benedict XVI finally tweeted on Wednesday, nine days after he started his Twitter account.
Something about faith.
He tweeted six more times the rest of the day.
He abruptly ceased tweeting on Thursday.
Further reports, as developments warrant.


News Headline: "Police thwart plot to kill Justin Bieber."
Don't the police have better things to do?


News Headline: "Kate Hudson planning top-secret wedding."
News Headline: "Air Force launches top-secret shuttle."
So we seem to have established that the U.S. Air Force and Kate Hudson are equally adept at maintaining secrecy.


Dave Carr, an Owen Sound, Ontario, reader, regarding an agreement between QT and its readers to let go of a growing list of variations on the movie title Snakes on a Plane, in other words, to put the remakes on the wane, writes:
"I am seeing an increase in ads on TV for electronic cigarettes. Does that mean we can smoke fakes on a plane?"
QT thought we had an agreement.
And it now must view these takes with disdain.


QT Early Warning System:
Pepsi-Chicken Flavor Lay's Potato Chips.


News Headline: "Study suggests refreezing the Arctic to stop warming."
What could possibly go wrong?


J.K., a Sydney, Australia, reader, regarding reports that scientists have been able to create brain cells from urine, writes:
"Does this mean beer can provide us with a valuable raw resource?"
And any true patriot of his nation knows what to do.


From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ The candy cane was invented in India.
+ Nostradamus collected jelly recipes.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
S.J., a Chicago reader, writes:
"I keep hearing people say 'quote unquote' when quoting. Shouldn't it be 'quote' and 'end quote'?"
"Unquote" is a corruption of "end quote."
But a number of usage experts seem to accept it as a "convention" of the language, which is what usage experts say when they can't think of anything else to say.
Only the lackadaisical spell "lackadaisical" as "laxadaisical," by the way.

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

December 13, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"A top aide to Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown could be in hot water for failing to disclose in her personal bankruptcy case that she had a six-figure taxpayer-funded job," Dane Placko, Patrick McCraney and Robert Herguth report in the Sun-Times.

"The aide, Yvonne Davila, was hired in May to serve as Brown's press adviser at $104,000 annually, according to county records and interviews.

"However, when she filed a federal court petition the next month to try to secure a Chapter 7 bankruptcy designation, citing serious financial problems, Davila didn't mention her county job even though she was required by law to provide a full financial picture, FOX 32 and the Better Government Association found."

For those not in-the-know:

"Davila [is] a relatively well-known publicist in Chicago who is close friends with first lady Michelle Obama."

Davila says the omission was an honest mistake and I'm sure it was. I intend to honestly make a mistake later today on my tax forms.

Billboard Battle
Jay Levine vs. Mick Dumke.

Bird Man Of Uptown
Ald. James Cappleman wants to put mentally ill people who feed pigeons in jail.

She Was Rutan
"Mary Lee Leahy, the Springfield attorney who triggered a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Illinois political patronage more than two decades ago, has died," AP reports. "She was 72."

Mary Lee Leahy took the case Rutan v. Illinois Republican Party to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990. The court's 5-4 ruling dealt a blow to Illinois' tradition of political patronage. The court ruled governments generally can't make hiring decisions based on politics.

Illinois government was forced to revise its hiring policies and ignore political connections.

"What I'm trying to figure is what state interest does patronage serve?" Leahy said in 1996. "There is no state interest in requiring that the guy who fills the potholes in the highways contributes to the Republican Party."

Joe Berrios said in a statement that the ruling doesn't apply to him. Or at least he thought it.

Swindle Spindle
"A swindler involved in one of the most expensive schemes in the history of Chicago's federal court pleaded guilty Wednesday to securities fraud as part of an unusual deal with prosecutors in which he would live with relatives while he is treated for colon cancer," the Tribune reports.

"Prosecutors agreed to free Michael E. Kelly for up to 120 days in return for his admission of wrongdoing, which will clear the way for some $50 million in restitution to be paid to thousands of victims. He would stay with relatives in Indiana during treatment."

Well, I suppose being forced to live in Indiana is punishment enough.

Gold Star
When I first started hanging around Wicker Park after moving here in 1992, I had what I called the Holy Trinity of hangouts: Inner Town Pub, Rainbo and Gold Star. It was only later that I made the Beachwood Inn my home.

Still, I don't recall ever knowing Susan Stursberg, which is weird, because apparently she knew everyone in the 'hood - including many of my friends. It's clear from the many posts and comments about her death that have flooded my little corner of the Internet that this was my loss.

Here's Huffington Post Chicago's obituary for the "beloved neighborhood fixture."

The Gibson Goldtop Collection
In a Chicago music store now.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Introducing OAF.

Sandy Candy
Check out the Beachwood Twitter feed for real-time commentary on last night's Sandy benefit show.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Commentable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

The Gibson Goldtop Collection

"The Gibson Les Paul Goldtop changed the world of guitars when introduced in 1952 and created one of the most significant guitars in rock 'n' roll history."


See them all here.


Alex lets it rip on a 1957.


How much is a 1956 worth?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Introducing OAF

Due to mounting pressure from basic math and things I see with my eyes (I ate nine pierogies for breakfast on Sunday, you don't want to know what my nose thinks), I have to begrudgingly admit that 13 games is enough of a sample size to downgrade my rating for the 2012 offense.

As it seems my estimation of this year's team worth was a tad overblown, I'll endeavor to be more subjective for the remainder of the season.

Henceforth, I will join my colleagues at Beachwood and adopt the complex and proprietary set of calculations known as the Offensive Analysis Formula as a means to rate both individual players and the Bears as a team.

Developed by top programmers at Deloitte in conjunction with rocket scientists pilfered from Germany near the end of the war*, Beachwood uses OAF to accurately dissect each offensive play and compile an accurate and objective judgment as to whether 16 of the 100 guys involved in a football game are entirely responsible for wins and losses.

OAF returns a value within a 0 to 100 range and is designed to give fans a quick reference to an offensive performance. We use four shorthand ratings of "YAY!," "Meh," "Inconsistent" and "Shitty" to label the quadrants of the 0 to 100 scale (YAY! = 76-100, Shitty = 0-25, etc).

So when I say that the offense played "Shitty" on Sunday, understand that I mean it in the strictest, scientific sense.

Home Lobotomy Kit
If loose lips sink ships, then slick hands ruin pervert vans.

Wait, what?

Game . . . so . . . bad . . . again.

Analogy jokes . . . difficult to . . . make.

Between the low-grade stroke my high blood pressure is giving me and the repeated force of slapping myself in the forehead the last two weeks, I've been brain damaging the candle on both ends.

The fact that I've been watching The Voice could also have something to do with it. Listening to Christina Aguilera definitely lowers your IQ.

Darfur, areas of New Orleans still ruined from Katrina, Cee-Lo muppets; it all comes back to Christina.

So what was I saying about lacrosse?

The "Get Devin Hester In Space" Package...
. . . only works when Devin Hester catches the ball . . . in space.

Hey, Tice: A moment of your time please.

Throwing the ball Hester's way more does not constitute "mixing it up" on offense any more than doing it missionary in the den is "mixing it up" just because you're physically out of the bedroom.

Kool-Aid (5 Out Of 5 Pitchers)
On the one hand I'm wildly disappointed with the performance of the team in the last five weeks (read: I've been doing some light cutting on one of my hands). On the other (uncut) hand, there's something to be said for having the entire season come down to a December date with the Packers.

Despite my best efforts, I can't even pretend to be emotionally detached from this team for one week, let alone 600 words.

Can you ask for a higher high or a lower low?


I feel like I owe it to myself to get high, so I'm pushing all my fragile, alcohol-soaked emotional chips into the middle of table and betting that Rod Marinelli can scheme up a way to cover Randall Cobb.

Bears 21
Packers 20


*It was the end of the Gulf War, but you can never have too many guys in lab coats named Hans hanging around the office.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

December 12, 2012

This Day In Hockey

This is actually yesterday in hockey.

But still.

This is December 11 in hockey.

Brought to you by Hockey Webcasts.

(Video first, facts to follow.)


1969 - Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" was played at the Philadelphia Spectrum for the first time, and the Flyers responded with a 6-3 win over Toronto. The Flyers' record when "God Bless America" is played or sung in person stands at a remarkable 94 wins, 26 losses, and 4 ties as of April 26, 2011. Smith and her song remain a special part of Flyers' history. In 1987, the team erected a statue of Smith outside their arena at the time, the Spectrum, in her memory.

1985 - NHL Record 62 points scored, Edmonton (36) beats Chicago (26) 12-9 & ties record of 21 goals

1991 - St. Louis rookie goaltender Guy Hebert played in his first career NHL game, as the Blues won 6-3 at Buffalo

1992 - Detroit's Brad McCrimmon became the 81st player (and 23rd defenseman) in NHL history to play in 1,000 NHL games. It came in the Red Wings' 4-2 win over the Flyers in Detroit.

2002 - Joe Sakic scored the 500th NHL goal of his career, becoming the 31st player to do so as the Avalanche lost 3-1 to the Canucks at Vancouver.

Tuesday Dec 11 Birthdays

Daniel Alfredsson
Dave Gagner
JP Parise
Mark Streit

Players with 1000 GP

Royalty Free Music Room.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

I've got some reporting to do on a new project this morning so there won't be a Papers column today. But we do have some other fine offerings for you, dear readers.

* The Political Odds. Updated for your gaming pleasure.

* QT: Don't Worry, Be Happy. Guns 'N' Puns.

* Dyson's Chicago Project Blows. We're a paper towel kind of city.

* Local Music Notebook: Billy Corgan, Arcade Fire & the Waco Brothers. Everybody's on the bandwagon again.

* Local TV Notes: Babes in Tooland. Because, after all, it's TV.

* This Day In Hockey. Remembering the NHL.


And from the Beachwood Twitter feed:







And please note:


Also, we posted these items on our Facebook feed in the last 24 hours, I'll just reprise them here:

1. Green Bay jokes about the Bears.

2. This would make more sense if you could tear the page out and, um, use it just like the product it's advertising..

3. Google's Chicago cafe gets even more Googlier.

4. Someone's gonna make Twinkies, folks. The brand is too valuable to die. Also: some of us like Snoballs.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Paper and plastic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

Dyson's "Chicago Project" Blows

Dyson says it is "transforming restrooms across America with Airblade™" and we can only weep for a nation.

Air dryers may save money on paper towels, but they leave restroom users highly unsatisfied. Air dryers take too long (the Airblade™ takes 12 seconds; you can't do it while walking out) and just can't do the complete job that paper towels can.

And sometimes you need a paper towel for other reasons - you can't wipe your face with an Airblade™.

Dyson, though, has already gotten itself into Soldier Field and 1871, the tech incubator at the Merchandise Mart. Let's take a look.

1. Soldier Field.


2. 1871.


Dyson claims it's dryer is better than all the others, but never compares its drying efficiencies against paper towels - only the cost to management.

As for those dirty restrooms littered with overflowing trashcans, well, supervise your cleaning crews better and maybe increase their pay. A win-win!

So go transform another nation, Dyson.

And memo to the Chicago Park District: Bring paper towels back to Soldier Field and hire more janitors to keep them off the floor.


Comments welcome.


1. From Karl Weiszhaar:

Plus, with a paper towel you can dry your hands quickly then open the door with paper towel in hand to help prevent picking buggers up from the door handle in a public bathroom. Haven't we been told that door handles are a major vector in disease transmission? I've always hated those damn blowers. Some of my favorite graffiti was etched into one of those things. "Push button, dry hands, wipe on pants."

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Babes In Tooland

Hey, it could happen to anyone.

1. Usually I would dismiss this as a bit straight outta 1974, but Miss January 2010 (briefly) makes it happen.


2. Chicago native Tia Ewing went viral this week with this commercial break during a Fox News Sacramento early morning broadcast.


3. On Tuesday, FuzzyMemoriesTV posted a series of videos from Oprah's 1985 staff Christmas talent show, and boy is it not good.


4. "In case you missed it when it was broadcast 35 times on Chicago area UHF TV, here is the signature clip from Tool TV's 2001 Holiday Special," Roger Bain writes of this Monday uplaod. "It was a fun shoot. They all were. Special thanks to Berland's House of Tools, your Chicagoland tool headquarters."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:07 AM | Permalink

QT: Don't Worry, Be Happy

News Headline: "Industrial fishing scrapes sea floor smooth."
News Headline: "Rainforest disappearing twice as fast as previously thought."
News Headline: "China will flatten 700 mountains to build a city."
Or put it this way:
We're just asking for it, aren't we?


News Item: University of Chicago to tear down one of President Reagan's childhood homes to make way for a grassy strip next to a parking lot.
The University of Chicago, it must be remembered, is one of the world's great universities.
Well. Except for its history department.


News Headline: "Three dead in Oregon mall shooting."
We may need to loosen our gun laws a bit more.
We hadn't seen a gunman open fire on innocent victims at a shopping mall for weeks.


News Headline: "Court strikes down Illinois ban on concealed carry."
There. That's better.


News Headline: "U.S. regulators allow energy companies and mines to pollute water supplies at more than 1,500 sites."
See what happens when we elect a Republican president?


News Headline: "Uproar over adult store advertising in Mt. Pleasant Christmas parade."
News Headline: "Christian radio host: Punch atheists 'in the mouth' for their 'war on Christmas.' "
Ho, Ho, Ho!


And where will you be today at 12:12:12 12/12/12?
There seem dozens of possibilities.


+ E.H., a Columbia, S.C., reader, regarding QT's agreeing to let go of a growing list of variations on the movie title Snakes on a Plane, in other words, to put the remakes on the wane, writes:
"Did somebody put the brakes on Zay N.?"
Stop it.
+ P.S., a Montreal reader, writes:
"Well, I decided to treat myself to a sick day (bad cold), so I'm sitting in my second-floor library overlooking the roof of our main-floor sunroom and note that today's snowfall caused flakes in the drain. "
Stop it.
Stop it now.
+ Phil Halprin, a Schaumburg reader, writes:
"My wife is busy baking for the holidays. She bakes cookies and makes fudge. I asked why she never bakes cakes. She said cakes are too much of a hassle. Or as she put it: 'Cakes are a pain.' "
That is enough.
QT will not participate in this any further.
Starting tomorrow, when it wakes to abstain.


News Headline: "Boys, 11 and 7, in attempted robbery, carjacking."
They grow up so fast, don't they?


Pope Benedict XVI, having started a Twitter account 10 days ago, still has yet to tweet, as of early today.
But QT will not leave you tweetless.
It will fill in again with one of Justin Bieber's latest tweets:
"we blessed. give it all up to him."
You know what?
It is becoming harder and harder to tell the pope and Justin Bieber apart.


News Item: ". . . In just 10 days, academically deficient players could earn three credits and an easy 'A' from Western Oklahoma State College for courses like 'Microcomputer Applications' (opening folders in Windows). . . ."
As we eagerly await the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.


News Headline: "Scientists create brain cells from urine."
And these cells want to you to know that tax cuts always create jobs.


QT What Passes for Miracles These Days Update:
An image of Jesus has been found on a potato chip in Marengo, Ill.


News Item: ". . . the world's adults weigh a combined 287 million tons, which works out to the weight of 17,000 Ohio-class submarines. . . ."
Or 41,000 Los Angeles-class submarines, if you are still trying to visualize it.


Beware the ides of National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Item: ". . . confuse the trappings of his achievement for its core. . . ."
K.R., a Baltimore reader, wants the writer to know that we confuse with and mistake for.
A place can't be a shambles without some blood having been spilled, by the way.
Ho, Ho, Ho!

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Billy Corgan, Arcade Fire & The Waco Brothers

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Billy Corgan plays to his demographic, appears on CBS Morning Show.


I do appreciate Corgan's sociological interest in the culture of music and its place in society etc., I just think he's wrong most of the time.

For example, I don't remember the Smashing Pumpkins being "dangerous" to society - ever. I don't remember the Pumpkins' worldwide tours challenging the established order. I don't remember the Pumpkins taking on Ticketmaster, or being a cause-oriented band that played a string of benefits, or even being musically challenging. I remember the Pumpkins being on the radio a lot.


Questions from the esteemed CBS morning crew include:

* Who writes the songs? As if!


* How did you get to be who you are? Um, that's another show. One that was done 20 years ago, in fact.



* How can you bill this band as the Smashing Pumpkins when you are the only remaining member?

* Does everyone in the band get paid equally?

* Do you write everybody's parts?

* Why not just record and tour under the name Billy Corgan?

* When you mention artists' fallow periods, is that an acknowledgement that you've been in one since Mellon Collie?

* You opened a tea shop in Highland Park, will you save Val's Halla Records?

2. From Northwestern magazine:

Clare Cavanagh recalls the day that Will Butler came to her after class and politely asked if he could skip the next session. "He said, 'I'm in a band, and we're gonna be on Conan,'" says Cavanagh, a Slavic languages and literatures professor who remembers Butler as a very good student in her seminar on modern poetry. "I kind of did a double take. But it was Will, and even if it hadn't been, the story alone would have been worth an absence."

A few weeks later Butler again approached Cavanagh after class with a copy of Rolling Stone that featured Butler's band, Arcade Fire. "He said, 'I just wanted to show you it was true. We were on Conan. It's in Rolling Stone.'"

Previously in North By Northwestern: Will Butler's Rise From Lit Nerd to Rock Star.


3. Waco Brothers Live!

At Schubas on Friday, December 28th & Saturday, December 29th.

From Bloodshot HQ:

"Ladies and gentlemen, quite possibly the best live rock band on the planet. We've seen them a hundred and sixty nine times, and the Waco Brothers never fail to entertain with their train wreck approach to country. Subtlety is for the weak, so they've chosen the path of optimum mayhem and tomfoolery. In their rollicking career, they have been called everything from the flagship act of the alternative country "movement" to pure butchery. Both are likely to be correct.

"In a world of corporate-sponsored tours by lame-o alt-rockers complaining about their hotel suites and 'country' stars who owe more to Boston than Bakersfield, the Wacos go out every night and play as if their lives depended on it. Their shows at SXSW and CMJ are legendary, and every year threaten to actually collapse under the weight of their runaway brilliance. If you're not drunk, sweaty and out of money at the end of one of their shows, then brother, we pity you. Over the years, this fervor has resulted in an onstage wedding proposal betwixt two fans (SXSW '02), a riot (Edinburgh '03), and a thousand and one lost nights of sweaty, happy reverie."

"Waco Express"/Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland 2009:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools officials have identified 330 schools they say are underutilized, and the city is bracing for what could be a massive number of school closures," WBEZ reports.

"Chicago school officials and the head of an independent Commission on School Utilization have said enrollment problems are caused by a loss of 145,000 kids in the city between 2000 and 2010, an 18 percent decline.

"But actual declines in Chicago Public Schools enrollment have not been anywhere near that severe."


"School officials talk about 145,000 fewer kids in the city; actual enrollment decline in CPS since 2000 is 28,289."

See what the city did there?

Why would anyone trust anything coming out of CPS or City Hall anymore?


"At the same time Chicago Public Schools says it needs to close down schools, maybe as many as 100, it's planning to open brand new ones," WBEZ also reports.

"But why would the district open schools when it says it has too many already?"

"We also need to be strategic and ensure that we are doing everything we can to immediately expand access to high quality school options for parents in every community," said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.

CPS: Expanding access to high quality bullshit.

(See also: CPS's Bizarre Communications Triangle.)


What CPS is brazenly doing is privatizing and gentrifying its system.

"If the district closes 100 schools, and then opens 60 new charters in the next five years, the percentage of privately run schools could jump up to 27 percent. In a grant application to the Gates Foundation, CPS leaders said they planned to open 100 new schools in the next five years, 60 of them charters."

That's just an estimate though, Carroll tells 'BEZ. We tell Gates it could be more; we tell you it could be less.


"The new schools that have opened in the last decade draw students away from their home schools, even though overall public school enrollment has dropped just 6 percent. The Chicago Teachers Union has said that's contributed to the problem of 'underutilization' in so many CPS schools."

It's reminiscent of the way the city let CHA buildings rot and units go vacant even while they had waiting lists 50,000 names long, and then said the buildings had become dangerous and underutilized and had to be torn down.

"Part of what Chicago is really suffering from is they don't have a long-range plan," said Mary Filardo, the executive director of the 21st Century Schools Fund, a non-profit that studies how school districts manage their real estate.

To the contrary. I think the long-range plan is quite clear.

Hurricane Sandi
Sandi Jackson's chief of staff tells the Sun-Times that she isn't considering a run for her husband's congressional seat, despite a DNAinfo Chicago report on Monday that didn't smell right from the get-go (see the item Sandi Occupying?).

The DNA report was either A) a trial balloon that was shot down before the day was out, or B) a reporter's bungle in interpreting a general response as a specific one without nailing it down.

Given the tenor of Sandi's other remarks in that piece, I'll go with B.

The Sun-Times report notes that Sandi will be at the Democrats' slating on Saturday, which she apparently thinks is more important to attend than city council meetings in her role as an alderman, but maybe she wants to be available to be drafted, which would also explain the DNA report. But again: Who called whom?


MARK KONKOL RESPONDS: Mark Konkol, who authored the DNAinfo piece, called me to take issue with my characterization of his reporting. Konkol says:

"I called Sandi Jackson following up on reporting about the fallout of Donne Trotter's arrest. The conversation continued to talk about her personal life and her plans for running for her husband's seat and those are the answers I got. I haven't been able to talk to her since."

The rest of our conversation was off-the-record, but Konkol emphasized that he vigorously tried to nail down Sandi's remarks and the intent behind them.


Meanwhile, Mike Flannery reports that Sandi will resign her council seat soon. (We've made book on that possibility for some time now.)

That would fit a narrative of running for Congress, but then she'd actually have to appear in public and before reporters, unless she ran a stealth campaign. And if she got the job, she'd have to come back here. One gets the feeling she wants a job in Washington, but not one that requires travel to Chicago. After all, her husband and kids live there full-time now, though her husband may be living in a federal facility soon.

Finally, Sneed once again "reports" that Jonathan Jackson is looking at the race. Funny how that item shows up on the heels of the Sandi dust-up. From what I understand, there is a power struggle going on between who "controls" the seat - Sandi or the Jackson family - even if none of them actually run for it. And I've heard the same whispers that Sandi and the family - especially the Reverend - are estranged, at least in part over how the whole Junior saga was (mis)handled over the summer.

At this point, it's mostly soap opera. But there is an open seat - and a pending criminal case - so it's also news.

Help Val Keep The Lights On
At her hall of musical gods.

KLM's Chicago Boom Holiday Flight
It's not the CTA holiday train but . . .


The Beachwood Tip Line: Underutilized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

KLM's Boom Chicago Holiday Flight

"KLM stewardess Natalie surprised some travelers at Amsterdam Airport with a Christmas present. The lucky passengers were treated to a Business Class upgrade and a Christmas-themed Boom Chicago comedy show on board of their flight to Chicago."


Boom Chicago from Wikipedia:

"Boom Chicago is a creative group, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, that writes and performs sketch and improvisational comedy at the Leidseplein Theater. They were the creative forces behind Comedy Central News (CCN), a news show on the Dutch Comedy Central which was canceled after two seasons, but continued to make videos for mobile devices and their website."


"2002: Comedy Swap with The Second City in Chicago. The mainstage casts of The Second City and Boom Chicago perform on each other's stages in each other's cities. This was the first (and only) time a visiting comedy group plays on Second City's mainstage. All shows sell out."


"2011: The Leidseplein Theater becomes the Chicago Social Club. Together with club innovater Casper Reinders (Jimmy Woo) and Pieter de Koning and Joris Bakker (Bitterzoet), the venue undergoes a thorough upgrade and increases its club programming and improves its bar and food offerings. 9/11 Forever is the only political comedy show in the world to address the ten year anniversary of the September 11 attacks."


"Seth Meyers (Saturday Night Live) was a member of Boom Chicago in the late 1990s and starred in production in Amsterdam, Chicago and Edinburgh.

"Other famous alumni include Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live), Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), Ike Barinholtz (Eastbound and Down), Dan Oster (MADtv), Liz Cackowski & Heather Anne Campbell (SNL), Allison Silverman & Pete Grosz (Colbert Report), Kay Cannon & Tami Sagher (30 Rock), Joe Kelly (How I Met Your Mother), and Matt Jones (Breaking Bad)."


See what KLM recommends in Chicago.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Help Val Keep The Lights On

"Val's Halla Records in Oak Park is hurting and could use your help," Tom Marker writes on the WXRT website.

"[T]hings are getting tough. She has a smart plan for the future but the bills are mounting and she needs help to get over this current hump and on the the next phase. All of the details of how you can be involved are included in an excellent article in the Oak Park Wednesday Journal by Anna Lothson."


Help Val Keep the Lights On

When: Thursday, Dec. 13. 7 to 10 p.m.
Where: Home of Oak Park residents Jim and Sue Gill
What: Live music by the Don Steinberg Trio. Food by Melissa Elsmo.
Cost: $100 donation

Donations are also welcome online.


The Hall of Val
"An Oak Park institution since 1972, Val's Halla Records is located at 239 Harrison Street, right in the heart of the Arts District. Val's Halla buys and sells a wide variety of new and used LPs, CDs, DVDs and cassettes. It also offers LP or cassette conversion to CD for items no longer in print and disc repair. Val's Halla hosts live music on occasion and has an impressive Elvis shrine located in the bathroom."


Last summer, Val's celebrated its 40th anniversary with Hallapalooza.

Some performances:

1. Bill Kavanagh & Friends.


2. Falling Stars.


3. Jams Brown


4. The John Pazden Trio.


5. How Far From Austin.


6. Gilmary Doyle Andrews.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

December 10, 2012

SportsMonday: The Bears Aren't Very Good Anymore

There are plenty of pundits this morning arguing that the Bears are a team that fattened up on a weak first-half schedule but of late have been exposed as frauds as the strength of the average foe has increased.

Except the Bears aren't even that good. Their last two losses, setbacks during which their star quarterback has played all the meaningful minutes (the last four of Sunday's 21-14 loss at the Vikings did not qualify), have happened against mediocre teams who were 6-5 and 6-6 coming in.

The Bears can't beat average teams at this point because nothing they do is above average any more.

What the hell happened?

I suppose the offense piled up an above-average number of total net yards on Sunday (438 to 248 for the Vikings), but a variety of factors ensured those yards didn't turn into points. The biggest of those was the fact that the Bears committed a grim 10 penalties for a total of 80 yards.

As for the defense, well, does anyone think any of the position groups (line, linebackers, defensive backs) are above average any more? They certainly weren't on that brutal opening drive that ensured the Bears would play from behind right from the get-go.

We've come a long way in a short time since this defense was the greatest thing since sliced breast, to use radio commentator Doug Buffone's latest malapropism.

Do these guys understand that they are playing for their coach's job? Last I checked a big reason for keeping Lovie Smith around was that players supposedly play harder for him than they would for someone else. That certainly wasn't the case Sunday.

The lowlights . . .

1. Robbie Gould strains his calf muscle in warm-ups.

2. Adrian Peterson begins his shredding of the Bears defense by ripping off a 51-yard run off right tackle on the first play of the game. He scores five plays later.

3. Five plays into the Bears' first drive, Alshon Jeffery stumbles coming out of his break and Jay Cutler's pass ends up in Josh Robinson's hands. Robinson runs returns the ball 44 yards before he is tackled by . . . Cutler. Jeffery later drops a bomb in the end zone.

4. The absolute killer, though, happens after Devin Hester returns a 56-yard punt 21 yards to set up the Bears on their own 31 with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Two running plays make it third-and-a-long-yard. Manageable, right?

The Bears line up in the shotgun, meaning play-action is off the table, and insert third-string running back Armando Allen in the backfield, apparently because Michael Bush has banged-up ribs, meaning there is virtually know way the coming play is anything other than a pass.

So the Vikings line rushes with abandon while the Vikings linebackers drop into zone coverage. The consequences? Cutler is under pressure while needing to get his throw over the dropping linebackers. The result? Cutler's overthrown pass is intercepted. Give Mike Tice half the credit for that one.

And to cap it all off, for the second time in three quarters the Bears' offensive players fail to prevent a big return. Harrison Smith takes it to the house/a>, the Vikings lead by two touchdowns and the Bears are done.

Upon Further Review
Did The Bears Quit?.

* Cutler Flops In Clutch.

* Peterson And Marshall Exchange Jerseys.

* This All Looks Familiar For Bears.

* Urlacher's Career Could Be Over.

* Up Next: Packers.

Smith's tenure as head coach of the Bears began with him taking the podium for his first news conference and parroting what some McCaskey had told him about the specialness of the Packers rivalry.

Everyone in the Bears ownership family remembered failed former coach Dave Wannstedt's insistence that a Packers game was just another game and wanted to make sure Lovie didn't make the same mistake.

I mean the only guy who took the Bears' rivalry with the Packers more seriously than Mike Ditka was old man George Halas himself.

Now Smith's future seems to absolutely hinge on this Sunday's game against those pesky arch-rivals from the north.


Our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman talks Bears every Monday with Rick Kogan on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

The Holiday Train Is The Best Damn Thing The CTA Does

"The Chicago Transit Authority is getting into the holiday spirit with our popular Holiday Train! Santa and his elves will ride the train passing out candy canes and season's greetings.

"The spectacular train is an amazing sight - during the daytime and at night. The outside of the six-car train is adorned with holiday seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.

"Interiors of the cars are decked out with thousands of multi-colored lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. The hand poles are wrapped to look like candy canes.

"As the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to the boarding passengers from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees."


Holiday Train Schedule.


"The Holiday Train also continues a more-than-20-year agency tradition of supporting Chicago communities. Every year, CTA employees embrace the spirit of the holidays and donate time and money to purchase groceries and assemble food baskets that are distributed to community organizations across the city. CTA will donate approximately 300 food baskets to 30 local community organizations.

"Each food basket contains all the ingredients for a complete meal including a canned ham, potatoes, mixed vegetables, muffin mix, macaroni and cheese, fruit cocktail, green beans, corn and dessert. The Holiday Train delivers the food baskets on three separate days over the holiday season."

1. Happy Holidays from the CTA!


2. The CTA bringing the joy.


3. Also known as the Santa Express.


4. So cool.


5. From Merchandise Mart to Clark/Lake.


6. You go, Santa!


We also featured the Holiday Train in 2009.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Anita Alvarez is unraveling faster than the Bears.

If you watched 60 Minutes last night, you know what I mean.

I hope to have more on this later - I got sidetracked this morning - but here's the video and transcript from Rich Miller and Eric Zorn.

Sandi Occupying?
Is Sandi Jackson running for her husband's old congressional seat after all?

Astonishingly, she told Mark Konkol of DNAinfo Chicago that she's still considering.

That possibility seemed to have fallen off the table in the last month or so, so what's up?

1. We'd know more if Konkol told readers how his "exclusive" interview came about. Did Sandi's PR people call him? Or did he catch her unawares?

2. We'd also know more if Konkol described her tenor - did she seem cagey? And how does she square having talks with Steny Hoyer even as she says she has "more pressing priorities" right now?

3. Is the possibility of her running leverage in her husband's plea bargain negotiations? Or any she herself might be having?

4. Is she trying to leverage influence among the current candidates?

In other words, the real story is the story behind the story. And we don't know what that story is yet.


The Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau has the chances of Sandi replacing Junior at just 1 percent. That's sure to change when the Political Odds are updated later today.

Judge Dread
"Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, made his first court appearance Monday since being indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the 2004 death of David Koschman, and his case was assigned to a judge who once worked for Daley in the Cook County state's attorney's office," the Sun-Times reports.

That's what happens when the Democratic Party of Cook County Central Committee shapes the bench - you can use a randomizer machine all you want but the arrow's still gonna stop at Daley.

"Associate Cook County Judge Arthur F. Hill Jr. also was a top deputy to Daley's successor as state's attorney, Richard Devine, whose handling of the Koschman case remains under investigation by a special prosecutor."

I have to admit that Michael Toomin, the judge who ordered the special prosecutor in this case, had some ties of conflict too, and look what he did. But still.


"Hill - who was randomly chosen to hear the case - is a former juvenile court judge who was a high-ranking prosecutor when Daley was state's attorney. He held positions under Daley including chief of the juvenile section, and later Daley appointed him to the CTA board.

"Before being appointed as a judge in 2003, Hill also was first assistant state's attorney under Devine."


Here's the Sun-Times ABC7 Chicago video of Vanecko appearing in court (the Sun-Times video was a runaway train showing various other stories as well):


Bar Scar
"Charges have been filed against a man who allegedly jumped out of a bathroom stall at a Wrigleyville bar and stabbed a man in the neck early Sunday morning, police said," the Tribune reports.

The assailant must not be related to Daley.

Freddie's Ocean
"Fred Eychaner was first invited to President Barack Obama's White House in June 2009. He was back in June 2010 for a meeting with senior adviser David Axelrod and in March of this year as a guest at a state dinner honoring U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

"In the past four years, Eychaner visited the White House seven times, and the president named him a trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, a reflection of his interest in and philanthropy for the arts, especially ballet.

"It's a lot of attention for a man who backed then-Senator Hillary Clinton over Obama in the 2008 primary campaign, and it paid off this year when the reclusive Chicago printer, radio station owner and investor became the top individual Democratic campaign donor - including $4.5 million given to a pro-Obama super political action committee. There's also potential for future dividends if he continues to write large checks to Democratic super-PACs in the 2014 midterm elections and beyond."

It's okay when Democrats do it.


"Rarely interviewed or photographed, Eychaner lives an apparently frugal life, with the notable exception of his multimillion-dollar home. In the mid-2000s, he was driving a Ford Escort and has since upgraded to a Ford Escape."

A few photos exist, though none of his car.


From Forbes in 2002:

Low-profile? Not Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner. He has given away millions of dollars to the Democratic Party and to the Joffrey Ballet. But just try to snap his picture. In 1997, when his alma mater, Northwestern University, honored him along with 75 other graduates, Eychaner was the only one of the group who didn't contribute a photograph. "We put out an all-points bulletin for a picture," says Associate Dean Richard Roth. "There wasn't one. We assume he exists."


Donor profile.

Wild Bill's Hiccup
"Christie Hefner, former chief executive officer of Playboy Enterprises Inc., said she was shocked as her husband of 15 years, William Marovitz, confessed to her that he was being investigated for suspicious trading in Playboy shares. They were in their apartment atop a 42-story Lincoln Park tower overlooking the glittering Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan on a March evening in 2010," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

"He told me he had been contacted by the SEC," Hefner said later in testimony before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which didn't accuse her of any wrongdoing.

"And when did you learn your husband owned shares of Playboy?" she was asked.

"In that conversation," she replied.

Bus Jihad
"Conservative blogger Pamela Geller has purchased more ad space at New York City subway stops and Metro North stations displaying anti-Islam messages," CBS2 New York reports.

Those ads are here too, as the Sun-Times (and others) reported last month.

My friend Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project took this pic last week and sent it to me.



The Best Damn Thing The CTA Does
The totally awesome holiday train.

Obama's America
* The Senate's Secret Report On CIA Torture.
* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

The Pope vs. Justin Bieber
And the Mayans. In QT.

Heather's Last Country Calendar Show
We are sad.

Here's the video.

Happiness Is Like A Slippery Football . . .
. . . And Chris Ware Is Awesome.

The Bears Aren't Very Good Anymore
What the hell happened?


The Beachwood Tip Line: The best damn thing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock: Heather's Last Country Calendar Show

"For the past 15 years, cartoonist Heather McAdams and her husband, musician Chris Ligon, have presented a delightful event each December at FitzGerald's: Chris and Heather's Country Calendar Show. McAdams sells her calendars, which feature her drawings of old-time country music stars and tons of factoids and humorous observations packed into practically every square," Robert Loerzel writes on his Underground Bee blog.

"And each year, a dozen or so musical acts take the stage, paying tribute to one of the artists featured in the calendar by playing a couple of cover tunes.

"And in between all of those musical performances, a movie screen gets pulled down so that Chris and Heather can project 16mm films from their collection of classic country music."

And this year's show was the last show, according to the couple, because they can no longer devote the time it takes to put it together.

We are sad. You shoulda been there.

1. Robbie and Donna Fulks.


2. The Paulina Hollers.


3. Scott Ligon.


4. Charlie King.


5. The Fat Babies.


6. Vernon Tonges and Robbie Fulks.


7. The Polkaholics.


8. The Lawrence Peters Outfit.


9. The Possum Hollow Boys.


10. Jon Langford.


11. Devil in a Woodpile.


12. The Modern Sounds.


13. Jane Baxter Miller and Kent Kessler.


Thanks to hmc1410 for uploading all that video.


Also this weekend:

14. Control at Reggie's on Saturday night.


15. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Rosemont on Saturday night.


16. Young Jeezy at the Congress on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

QT: But When Will He Tweet?

News Headline: "Pope's Twitter account expected to top one million followers."
The pope opened his Twitter account a week ago today.
The latest tweet:
"@Pontifex hasn't tweeted yet."
We meanwhile saw 76 tweets from Justin Bieber during the same week.
Come to think of it:
Why couldn't the pope borrow one of those to get started?
Maybe from December 3:
"got alot of ideas right now. feeling creative. kinda just hyped thinking thru all this stuff. planning all kinds of new stuff ."
Or maybe from December 9:
"come relax with me poolside."
Or maybe not.


News Headline: "Mayan apocalypse: Panic spreads as December 21 nears."
Or maybe we should keep an eye on December 31.
QT has noticed its calendar ends abruptly on that date.


In other news, Asteroid 2012 XE54, which was discovered yesterday, will pass between Earth and the moon tomorrow.
But you will be pleased to know that no asteroids will be approaching Earth on December 21.
That we have discovered.


News Headline: "Gay rights activists worried about Supreme Court review."
There is no reason to worry about what the Supreme Court will do.
All that has to happen is this:
Every gay should go to a lawyer and sign papers of incorporation.
Then gays will be treated as people.
See how easy?


News Headline: "Study: People who live near bars drink more."
News Headline: "Study: Men and women look at the world differently."
News Headline: "Study: Gossip makes up 90 percent of workplace conversations."
Noticed: Things we already know make up 90 percent of study findings.


News Headline: "Drug deal busted during Christmas parade."
News Headline: "Crosswalk offenders busted by Santa decoy."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


News Headline: "College drinking out of control."
Reassuring that there have remained some constants over the years.


Kevin Smith, a Nashville, Tenn., reader, regarding QT's reluctance to let go of a growing list of variations on the movie title Snakes on a Plane, in other words, its reluctance to see these remakes on the wane, writes:
"Please stop it now. For the sakes of the sane."
All right. QT will stop it.
Well. Barring new outbreaks in that vein.


News Item: ". . . The technology, known as Wide Area Multilateration, improves safety and efficiency by allowing air traffic controllers to track aircraft in mountainous areas. . . ."
So the next time you are in flight over mountains, rest assured your pilot is being guided by a system called WAM.

News Headline: "Will robots someday destroy humanity?" An insulting question. Humanity is quite up to wiping itself out, thank you very much.

News Item: ". . . In the Finnish study, each 10 grams of fiber added to the diet decreased the risk of dying from heart disease by 17 percent. . . ."
That is the equivalent of three pieces of rye bread.
But let's take it a step further.
QT calculates that if you can decrease your risk 17 percent with three pieces of rye bread, you can reduce it almost to zero by eating 31 sandwiches a day.
Don't thank QT
Just trying to save a few lives.


News Item: ". . . that a key ingredient found in beer can boost cold-fighting abilities . . . ."
The key ingredient is humulone, found in beer hops.
But it is found only in small amounts.
So you will be need to drink 30 cans of beer a day for the anti-viral effect.
And a QT Fitness and Health bonus:
Now you have something to wash down the 31 sandwiches.


Mike Wolstein, a Park Ridge reader, writes:
"My computer has generated a 'Fatal Error' on more than one occasion. Does this mean it's immortal?"


From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ The 1968 minimum wage adjusted for inflation was 47 percent higher than it is today.
+ Ducks can sleep with one eye open.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Headline: "Poinsettas: Background on a holiday classic."
News Headline: "Keep your poinsetta healthy."
It might be healthier if spelled "poinsettia."
Twenty-six percent of Floridians mispronounce "Florida," by the way.

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:36 AM | Permalink

Book Report: Happiness Is Like A Slippery Football And Chris Ware Is Awesome

"Imagine you are really good at drawing and also really good at capturing the essence of things like unrealized dreams, debilitating self-consciousness, awkward sex, existential honeybees & missing limbs," writes K. Flay on this YouTube upload.

"And then imagine you decided to make an unconventional graphic novel consisting of 14 separate narrative components, all of which told a different part of a big story.

"And then imagine you titled it Building Stories, partially because the stories center on a single building in Chicago, partially because the reader must literally build the story out of the different components.

"And then imagine your name was Chris Ware and that yours truly, Fristine Klaherty read it."

"[D]espite the fact that I don't normally partake of graphic novels (illustration/text combos are like canola oil & poland spring in my brain), I truly thought it was one of the most original & strangely profound things I've encountered in a while.

"Basically, happiness is like a slippery football & Chris Ware is awesome."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See

A Senate committee is close to putting the final stamp on a massive report on the CIA's detention, interrogation and rendition of terror suspects.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Select Committee on Intelligence, called the roughly 6,000-page report "the most definitive review of this CIA program to be conducted."

But it's unclear how much, if any, of the review you might get to read.

The committee first needs to vote to endorse the report. There will be a vote this week. Republicans, who are a minority on the committee, have been boycotting the investigation since the summer of 2009. They pulled back their cooperation after the Justice Department began a separate investigation into the CIA interrogations. Republicans have criticized that inquiry, arguing that the interrogations had been authorized by President George W. Bush's Justice Department. (In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the investigation was being closed without bringing any criminal charges.)

Even if the report is approved this week, it won't be made public then, if at all. Decisions on declassification will come at "a later time," Feinstein said.

According to Reuters, the Senate report focuses on whether so-called "enhanced interrogation" tactics - including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other techniques - actually led to critical intelligence breakthroughs. Reuters reported earlier this year that the investigation "was expected to find little evidence" that the torture was in fact crucial.

Bush, Dick Cheney and others have repeatedly said that such tactics produced important information. They've also said waterboarding was used on only a handful of high-level detainees, a claim which recently came into question. Feinstein has previously disputed claims that such interrogations led to Osama bin Laden. (It is also still unclear what key members of Congress knew about the program, and when they knew it.)

Much about the CIA's program to detain and interrogate terror suspects has remained officially secret, despite widespread reporting and acknowledgement by Bush. Obama banned torture upon taking office and released documents related to program, including a critical report from the CIA's Inspector General.

But the Obama administration has argued in courts that details about the CIA program are still classified. (As we have reported, this has led the administration to claim in some cases that Guantanamo detainees' own accounts of their imprisonment are classified.)


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

December 8, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is on special assignment in Wisconsin - something to do with Paul Ryan and yoga. We expect her back next week.

Market Update
Trading on Fiscal Cliffs is up among savvy investors due to boredom; interest will be sure to spike when we go over and volume will go up to 11. Trading on America, however, stalled amidst reports that corporate profits are at record highs and wages at record lows. Oh to be in Iceland now that a long, cold winter has come.

International Report
"The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats," the New York Times reported this week.


"Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats," the Times reported last month.


"There's something wrong when on one hand Americans continue to stand up in support for Egyptians' aspirations for human rights and on the other the US government supplies weapons to the very military regime that is attacking protesters," Amnesty International reported last January.


U.S. Foreign Arms Sales Make Up Most Of Global Market and (just like corporate profits) U.S. Arms Sales Shoot To Record Levels.


Yay, Obama!

Psy Ops
"South Korean rapper PSY is still scheduled to perform at Sunday's 'Christmas in Washington' concert at the National Building Museum after he apologized Friday for performing songs with anti-American lyrics at a concert protesting the U.S. military presence in South Korea during the early stages of the Iraq war in 2004," NBC reports.

"The 34-year-old PSY, born Park Jae-Sang, said he was 'deeply sorry' for performing the song 'Dear American,' a song written by the South Korean metal band N.E.X.T. In reference to American soldiers, the song includes the lyrics 'Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully.'"

If only the lyrics were "Arm their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers . . ."

Does He Know The Election Is Over?
President Obama is on his way to Michigan to walk with workers - right after he gets done making pot illegal again in Washington and Colorado.

Position Devolving
"A prominent Hispanic Democrat from Illinois is calling out President Obama for not playing a more active role in the immigration reform talks that have begun in Congress," The Hill reports.

"Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who campaigned for the president in swing states with large populations of Latino voters, said Obama is missing in action from the discussions that are taking place on Capitol Hill."

Hey, it's awfully time consuming making gay marriage a states' rights issue while making a federal case out of pot.


(With thanks to MrJM)

The Week In Review
Steve Rhodes was a guest on WBEZ's Morning Shift on Friday discussing this week's news. Here it is.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Make the magic happen.


The College Football Report: Musical Cheers.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "They've made their lists and checked 'em twice. Now the big moment has arrived: Jim and Greg reveal the Best Albums of 2012 and hear some of your nominations."


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Modern takes on old classics!



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

Children in Organized Armed Violence at Home & Abroad


Prexy Nesbitt of Columbia College joins this forum on the role of children in armed conflicts abroad and in the United States.

Saturday, December 8 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


Why Local Matters: Levers for Community Change


Joan Blough of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation shares systems-focused community efforts that can improve outcomes for young children and their families.

Saturday, December 8 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.


Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture


Co-organized by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project, this exhibition showcases proposed monuments to memorialize documented cases of torture by the Chicago Police.

Sunday, December 9 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.

Solitary Confinement & Human Rights

Hosted by the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, this conference brings together academics, activists, survivors, faith community leaders, and community organizers to examine the impact of solitary confinement on prisoners.

Solitary 101 - The U.S.


Jean Casella of Solitary Watch introduces the state of solitary confinement in prisons today.

Sunday, December 9 at 9:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr.


Immigration, Supermax Prisons, & Juveniles


Susan Gzesh of the University of Chicago moderates a panel on how solitary confinement effects different populations, such as immigrants and juveniles.

Sunday, December 9 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr.


Solitary Confinement & Mental Health


Terry Kupers of The Wright Institute explains the psychological impact of solitary confinement on inmates.

Sunday, December 9 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

December 7, 2012

Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a yearly military spending bill.

Last year, the bill affirmed the U.S.'s authority to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely and without charges.

The provision had generated plenty of controversy, particularly about whether U.S. citizens could be detained indefinitely.

This year, the Senate bill says that citizens can't be detained in the U.S. - but concerns remain about the scope of detention powers.

We've taken a step back, run through the controversy, and laid out what's new.

What does the law currently say about military detention?

Section 1021 of last year's National Defense Authorization Act affirms the military's ability under the law of war to detain people "without trial until the end of hostilities."

It also says they can be tried at a military commission, transferred to another country or to "an alternative court" - leaving open the possibility of civilian trials.

Who can be detained?

Anyone who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided" the 9/11 attacks, or "harbored those responsible." Also, anyone who been "part of or substantially supported" al-Qaeda, the Taliban, "or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the U.S. and its coalition partners."

Does that include U.S. citizens?

Congress left that deliberately unspecified last year, essentially punting the issue to the courts.

The language in the bill didn't outright permit or prohibit indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. The act stated that it wouldn't affect "existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

But existing laws and authorities don't actually give a definitive answer. There were cases involving U.S. citizens held by the military under President George W. Bush, but no precedents were established.

The Supreme Court ruled only narrowly on the case of Yaser Hamdi, on the basis that he was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. (Hamdi was released and went to Saudi Arabia in 2004.)

In a second case, Jose Padilla was transferred to a civilian court.

(For more legal details, see these backgrounders from the blog Lawfare and the Congressional Research Service.)

In signing the bill last year, Obama said that his administration "will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens." Critics were quick to point out that this was a non-binding policy, and that the law left the door open for future administrations to interpret it differently.

But this year's bill fixed all this confusion, right?

Kind of.

In a replay of last year's debate, a flurry of proposed amendments went around the Senate in an attempt to clarify the language about indefinite detention.

Ultimately, the Senate passed an amendment from Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that seems to protect U.S. citizens:

"An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention."

What about people detained in the U.S. who aren't citizens or permanent residents?

They could still be indefinitely detained.

Human rights and civil libertarian groups criticized the amendment for falling short of the protections in the constitution under the Fifth Amendment, which says that any "person" in the U.S. be afforded due process.

In the floor debate, Feinstein said she agreed with critics that allowing anybody in the U.S. to be detained indefinitely without charges "violates fundamental American rights." Feinstein said she didn't think she had the necessary votes to pass a due-process guarantee for all.

So does that settle it? Citizens can't be detained?

Depends which senator you ask.

Some voted for Feinstein's amendment even though they think the military should be able to indefinitely detain people within the U.S. They think her amendment still allows it, because of the last clause - "unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such a detention."

As The Hill reported, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI), all claim that Congress's 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force does authorize the detention of citizens, even in the U.S. They cited the Hamdi case, despite the fact that he was captured abroad.

What about last year's NDAA? Isn't that an Act of Congress authorizing detention?

Not expressly.

It gets back to that non-position that last year's bill settled on - "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities" about the detention of U.S. citizens.

Does the NDAA go farther than the post-9/11 AUMF?

On the surface, yes, but many courts have already used AUMF to affirm broad presidential powers.

The AUMF doesn't mention detention, or al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces, which the NDAA claims the U.S. has the authority to detain. It authorizes "necessary and appropriate force" against anyone involved with or harboring anyone involved with the 9/11 attacks.

But both Bush and Obama have maintained in court that the AUMF does authorize detention, and that its authorization applies to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and "associated forces."

So the detention section of the NDAA largely echoes the authorities that Bush and Obama have previously asserted and gotten through the courts.

What the NDAA does do, as Lawfare phrased it, is "put Congress's stamp of approval" on these claims, which could have implications for future litigation.

The Congressional Research Service report goes into more detail on the way that courts have interpreted "associated forces" and "substantial support" - phrases the NDAA doesn't attempt to define.

Isn't there a lawsuit going on over the NDAA?

Yes. Last year, a coalition of journalists and activists sued to block the indefinite detention provision on constitutional grounds. A U.S. District Court judge stayed by an appeals court, who found it overly broad. The case is ongoing.

So what happens next?

The bill still has to be reconciled with the House version, which did not include an amendment to the detention provision like Feinstein's.

Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA over other measures, including restrictions on transfers from Guantanamo prison.

But he said the same thing last year, and ended up signing the bill into law.


* George W. Bush's Letter To President Obama: You legitimize me.

* Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And Secrecy Around Them - Continue

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

* Update: Obama's America


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"The security company employing state Sen. Donne Trotter has been paid more than $350,000 as a subcontractor on a City of Chicago security deal and is represented by a politically powerful lobbying firm run by a onetime top aide to former Mayor Richard M. Daley," the Sun-Times reports.

That doesn't necessarily mean anything unless the firm is employing Trotter as a political favor. But if Trotter is to be believed, it's not a ghost job - he said he worked as a security guard until midnight the night before he was arrested for having a gun in his carry-on luggage at O'Hare.

Still, it's his job that might pose a larger political problem than the gun if it turns out to be hinky.

I checked Trotter's last economic statement of interest yesterday - from May 2011 - and found he didn't list the security firm job, but that would apparently be explained by the Sun-Times's reporting that he took the job (presumably later) that same month.

And it's his business, I suppose, if he wants to add income onto his already sweet deal as a legislator - as majority caucus chair, he gets $20,649 on top of his regular $67,836 legislative salary.

If it turns out be just a bonehead move, candidates have done a lot worse without being disqualified to run for Congress. But if there's a drip-drip of revelations, that's a different story. He certainly didn't help his cause on Thursday by responding to a reporter who asked if he was still running by saying in a petulant tone, "From you." (Actually he said a bit more than that according to Bill Cameron of WLS-AM.)

Why not just say, "Hey, I did a stupid thing. I certainly didn't intend to bring a gun on a plane. I'm cooperating with police and I hope we resolve this soon so I can begin campaigning"?


It also doesn't help that the gun was not registered - though whether that is required of security guards and detectives under city ordinance is in question.


But what's the deal with doing security work with a .25 Beretta?

"The weapon he was carrying is certainly not a standard-issue type of handgun for security guards, who normally are required to carry 9 mm or .40-caliber semiautomatics that have more stopping power," Phil Kadner reports for the SouthtownStar.

"It's just a crap gun," Sean Morrison, the head of Morrison Security Inc., in Alsip, told him.


"Well, we almost got there," the Tribune says in an editorial that sets the table nicely. "We got tantalizingly close to a full week without the arrest or indictment of a Chicago politician. One whole week!"







Governor Gumby Squeezy
Working night and day.

Preck Pricks Pricks
"Clearly this mayor and this police chief have decided the way in which they are going to deal with the terrible violence that faces our community is just arrest everybody," Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday. "I don't think in the long term that's going to be successful.

"We're going to have to figure out how to have interventions that are more comprehensive than just police interventions in the communities where we have the highest rates of crime. And they're almost all in African-American and Latino communities."


Bait & Switch
QT: A Rose Bowl By Any Other Name . . .

Musical Chairs
The College Football Report: Musical Cheers.

Defining Federal Communications Down
FCC Clams Up On Its Own Transparency Initiative.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Define down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Musical Cheers

A tuneful analysis of the state of college football.

"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - Taylor Swift

Swift's teen ballad goes out to all of Division I, where conference realignment has caused no end of hurt feelings as seemingly every conference has been flirting with members of the opposition. Earlier this season, the Big East shored up its dwindling membership by raiding Conference USA for Memphis, Houston, Central Florida and SMU followed by Tulane and East Carolina last week. Last month, the Big Ten plucked Maryland from the ACC and, a day later, Rutgers from the Big East. The ACC retaliated by seducing the Louisville Cardinals from the Big East (effective 2014), leaving the old conference maps in utter disarray.

The swelling ranks of the big conferences have also forced the also-rans to cast about wildly for dates to the dance, resulting in mishmash conferences like Conference USA. C-USA, while never a logical combination of schools in the past, better resembles a dartboard than a cohesive group now that it will include Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Old Dominion and UT-San Antonio.

For those of you unfamiliar with UT-SA, here is a brief background: the program debuted in August 2010 and accepted an invite to the WAC effective for the 2012 season, with the Roadrunners spending their inaugural season in 2011 playing as an independent in the FCS (i.e. Division I-AA).

The WAC promptly died, leaving the 'Runners temporarily homeless before being accepted by Conference USA beginning in 2013. San Antonio is still a "transitional" FBS team, however, and won't be eligible for bowl games until 2014, putting the over/under on the Roadrunners' first bowl game at 2023.)

Meanwhile, the Sun Belt (generally regarded as the weakest FBS conference) is looking at New Mexico State, Idaho and Georgia Southern to replace Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic, who will be moving to Conference USA, bringing it to 14 teams.

Western Kentucky may also leave the Sun Belt for Conference USA to join rival MTSU, whom the Hilltoppers have played as both a member of the Ohio Valley Conference and the Sun Belt. Apart from sharing the same conference, the exact locations of both schools remain a mystery to those outside of western Kentucky and central Tennessee, making them natural rivals.

Somewhat like the ladies still standing at last call, Idaho and New Mexico State look that much more attractive to conferences casting around for members because both are immediately eligible now that the WAC has disintegrated. Both schools have investigated playing the field by remaining independent next year but this seems like a thin ploy to entice the best offer from the available suitors. We have a hard time believing that if Conference USA came calling with its $2 million to $3 million in TV revenue for member schools, or even the Sun Belt with $1 million, that either team would turn down an offer. Are the Vandals or Aggies in any position to play hard to get? We say no.

While the smaller conferences can dangle a few million dollars, the big leagues play in, well, another league. To take just one example, the ACC instituted a $50 million exit fee to dissuade member schools from fooling around with other conferences, and if that doesn't keep teams at home, the ACC can point to the revenues generated by the new 15-year television deal worth $257 million - about $17 million per team per year.

Incidentally, if you would like a complete update on what the conferences will look like in 2013 and beyond, Jerry Hinnen's recap for would be a good start, although we think it is already out of date.


"Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" - Motley Crue

This Gen X breakup classic is dedicated to former Southern Miss head coach Ellis Johnson. Southern Miss was so desperate to rid itself of Johnson [] that they sold a 2013 home game to Nebraska, moving the game to Lincoln in return for $2,125,000. The payday neatly covers Johnson's$2 million buyout clause, leaving just enough to gas up the team bus for the 16-hour schlep to the Cornhusker State.

UPDATE: Johnson, never one to sit around on millions of dollars of unearned cash, has accepted a job at Auburn as the defensive coordinator under new head coach Gus Malzahn. As of press time, the College Football Report couldn't confirm rumors that Johnson has retained the pop-rock stars Train to reprise their 2012 hit "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" in a song dedicated to Southern Miss: "Two Million Ways to Say Peace Out Bitches."


"Gangnam Style" - Psy

We would send this out to someone, something, some event, or some team, but we don't know what Gangnam Style means. The song feels like an inexplicable pop culture phenomenon a la MC Hammer's "Too Legit to Quit" in the early 1990s. Does anyone understand why it caught on? Not really. Will every celebrity filmed doing the Gangnam Style dance feel ridiculous 10 (two?) years from now? Yes. Has the Gangnam sensation already flamed out? Yes.

In that vein, the Michigan Wolverines may merit the Gangnam Team of the Year. Looking back, no one understands why Michigan was so popular. In the first four games of the season, Michigan (#8, preseason AP Top 25, including vote for #1) lost to Alabama by 27 points and committed six turnovers in an ugly loss to Notre Dame. Quarterback Denard "Shoelaces" Robinson attracted some preseason Heisman hype and followed it up by throwing eight INTs in September. Michigan apologists will cite Robinson's midseason injury as the cause behind the Wolverine's disappointing year, but in truth the 2012 season was over early. A better song for Robinson and company this year may be Elton John's "Candle in the Wind".


"Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen

Manti Te'o? Johnny Manziel? Who will get the call on Saturday night? Our money is on Manti in a narrow win.


"Whistle" - Flo Rida

We are unapologetic Flo Rida fans. The man is a genius. He has released 39 songs, 10 of which have peaked at #1 on the charts. His maddeningly catchy single "Right Round," from his sophomore album R.O.O.Ts., sold 636,000 downloads in its first week, breaking the previous record set by his own "Low," and went on to become the fastest single to hit 1 million digital sales. What we like most about Flo (can we call you Flo, Flo?), however, is his sense of fun. He doesn't waste time with angst. He just wants hot girls to blow his whistle.

Speaking of whistle-blowing (hey now!), this is for you, UCLA. The Bruins led the NCAA in penalties (241) and total penalty yards (2,417) in 2012. For sake of comparison, the Washington Huskies finished a distant second (207) in total penalties and Louisiana Tech (at second place with a healthy 2,012 yards) trailed UCLA by four football fields in penalty yardage. Yet somehow rookie head coach Jim Mora tallied nine wins while accruing more than a mile in penalty yardage. No wonder Mora has been the subject of so much speculation on the interwebs. Imagine what he could do at Tennessee if he were to just give up a thousand fewer yards in penalties!


"Don't Wake Me Up" - Chris Brown

Our wish for Northern Illinois: don't wake up before the end of your dream season.


"Clique" - Kanye West, Jay-Z, Big Sean (NSFW)

To the SEC, the in-crowd everyone wants to join. Not only does the Southeastern Conference win, including yet another BCS championship if Vegas is to be believed, but SEC teams take home some pretty sweet swag from bowl games too.


"Too Close" - Alex Clare

To: Alex Clare
Subject: Bowl schedule
Thank you for summing up our thoughts about the impending bowl season. We can't believe it's only a week away! This is where we would say something like "OMG!" but we are adults.

That is, assuming we consider the pair of upcoming games next Saturday as actual bowl games. With all due respect to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Nevada vs. Arizona, current line: Arizona -9.5) and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Toledo vs. Utah State, current line: Utah St. -10), we won't get to the meat of the bowl season until late December.

The first few weeks are more like a mountain of delicious crispy spiral-cut russet potato chips, not to be confused with the Potato Twisters at Applebees, which, while tasty, could never last a few weeks . . . although they are served with spicy Queso Blanco and freshly-made pico de gallo, so they have that going for them, which is nice.

The College Football Report


To celebrate the end of the regular season, the Free Range Chicken is making the annual (or possibly Inaugural, we haven't checked the record books) two-team tease this weekend:

Wofford at North Dakota State (from -16.5 down to -13.5), 3 p.m. and Illinois State at Eastern Washington (from -5 down to -2), 6 p.m.

The Beachwood Sports Seal
The Seal will stake a portion of his Christmas bonus on the Midshipmen over the Black Knights in the lone Division I game on the final Saturday of the 2012 season. (Provided the book takes action in herring, that is.) Go Navy! Beat Army!

Navy (-7) at Army, 3 p.m.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Band of Horses at the Chicago Theatre on Sunday night.


2. Alex Clare at the Metro on Sunday night.


3. Jaime Rojo at Township on Sunday night.


4. Reignwolf at Schubas on Wednesday night.


5. Chicago Farmer at Schubas on Thursday night.


6. Pokey LaFarge at Schubas on Thursday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

QT: A Rose Bowl By Any Other Name. . . .

News Headline: "Money beats tradition as Big Ten expands."
News Headline: "Big Ten: Realignment is the perfect time to rename Legends and Leaders."
QT has already suggested Cash and Carry.
Or there is Bait and Switch.
Or. . . .


News Headline: "'Socialism' and 'capitalism' are most-looked-up words in 2012, dictionary says."
News Headline: "Sarah Palin: Barack Obama is a 'socialist.'"
Hey. The dictionary never said everyone looked up the words.


News Item: Mall Santa in Maine refuses to allow 6-year-old girl on his lap unless her mother buys a $20 photo package.
News Item: Salvation Army bell-ringers banned from downtown as panhandlers in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ho, Ho, Ho!


+ P.S., a Montreal reader, regarding QT's noting that the reindeer is Donder, not Donner, and readers who wrote back that Donner is the one who ate all the other reindeer, writes:
"If Donner grilled the other reindeer, could one say that's where the Turkish dish Donner Kabob came from?"
+ Gail Dean Cotton, a Chicago reader, writes:
"So the readers who wrote that Donner ate the other reindeer get a pass?"
Stop it.
Stop it now.


News Headline: "Obama warns Syria against use of chemical weapons."
The line has to be drawn.
This is a question of the rule of modern civilization.
You don't use chemicals to kill people in warfare.
You use drones with explosives.


We Have Seen the Present, and It Does Not Work:
A construction crew was ordered to stop work at Sinclair College in Ohio until the men could find a sign to replace "MEN WORKING," which was in violation of the college's policy requiring an "inclusive and non-discriminatory" environment.


News Headline: "Study: Smoking while drinking may make hangovers worse."
So if you are drinking heavily, please cut down on the smokes.
That is your QT Fitness and Health Tip for today.


News Headline: "More than 100 Bangladeshi garment workers die in factory fire after Walmart refused to finance safety improvements."
But rest assured:
Walmart spends whatever it takes to make sure its stores are safe for shoppers.
No. Really.


News Headline: "21 furious Twitter reactions to Justin Bieber's Grammy snub."
This being an age that has made possible something called a furious tweet.


News Headline: "Glenn Beck to launch TV reality show."
Say this for Glenn Beck:
He is always open to new approaches.
Well. Such as reality.


News Headline: "Mel Gibson: I might reach out to Lindsay Lohan."
What could possibly go wrong?


News Headline: "Campaign to draft Stephen Colbert for Senate."
Which would make him the funniest senator, just ahead of Al Franken.
News Headline: "McConnell takes obstruction to 'new heights' by filibustering his own bill."
But Mitch McConnell is coming up fast.


Modern Education + the Criminal Mind =
A man in Portland, Me., called police to report that a prostitute had left with 10 minutes remaining on the session he had paid for.


News Headline: "Survey: Detroit most dangerous city for gays."
In other news, Detroit, according to FBI statistics, is the most dangerous city for everybody.


News Headline: "Snake on a plane causes emergency landing."
Gene Christianson, an Overland Park, Kan., reader, writes:
"I don't think any further comment is needed."
Wait. Were you thinking the fun was over--that this might be a case of retakes on the wane?
QT would never put the brakes on a refrain.
All right.
QT will stop it.
QT will stop it now.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Item: ". . . which for all intensive purposes. . . ."
News Item: ". . . For all intensive purposes, Israel is now. . . ."
H.B., an Evanston reader, can't state intensely enough that it is "for all intents and purposes."
There are only two syllables in "forecastle," by the way.

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

FCC Clams Up On Its Own Transparency Initiative

When the Federal Communications Commission passed a rule earlier this year to require TV stations to post political ad buying information online, public interest groups (and ProPublica) welcomed the policy as a means to get an unprecedented look at how billions of campaign dollars flow around the country.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called the rule a victory for transparency, saying the disclosure requirements are "part of the public's basic contract with broadcasters in exchange for use of the spectrum and other benefits."

But, in practice, attempts to create a full picture of political ad spending from the TV station files exposed deep flaws in the FCC's effort as well as spotty compliance by the stations themselves.

"The reviews are abysmal," says Campaign Legal Center policy director Meredith McGehee, who has been tracking the issue closely as a member of the Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition. "The information posted has not been as helpful as expected."

Now, the commission is refusing to even talk about the future of its own transparency initiative.

The key to fulfilling the system's potential is to require stations to submit political ad data in a consistent format making it actually sortable. Such a requirement would allow for a truly useful database that would show in unprecedented detail how ad money is spent in local, state, and federal campaigns. That was the recommendation of an FCC working group last year.

Speaking at a public forum in July, the head of the FCC office overseeing the rule, Bill Lake, called making such improvements the "long-term goal."

But it's not at all clear when, or if, that will happen.

We repeatedly asked commission officials about their plans for the site, but our interview requests were denied and FCC spokeswoman Janice Wise declined to comment.

When the Campaign Legal Center's McGehee proposed to FCC staff during the campaign that the system should move in the direction of "a searchable, sortable, downloadable database . . . they looked at me like I was a wild-eyed Stalinist," said McGehee, who still praised the FCC for getting its system up just a few months after finalizing the new regulation.

The new FCC website is indeed a big improvement over the old system of keeping political ad information in difficult-to-access paper files at stations around the country. ProPublica along with other organizations and media outlets produced dozens of stories based on the new information, which shows where campaigns and outside groups bought ads and how much they paid. We had the help of nearly 1,000 volunteers who helped sift through pdf documents in our Free the Files project.

Many stations fell short of the legal requirement to maintain an "orderly" public file. Some stations' files were plagued by illegible writing, duplicate contracts, opaque revisions, and obscure internal filing practices.

At times stations filed five, 10, even 20 versions of a single contract between a campaign and a TV station to buy a week of ads. That made it nearly impossible to get an accurate picture of overall spending.

Here's an example of just how poor the document quality can be.

McGehee now believes that any improvements may be on hold pending the appointment of a replacement for Genachowski, a longtime friend of President Obama who is reportedly expected to leave his post once a successor is found.

The other wild card? The position of the broadcast industry and its outstanding lawsuit against the FCC.

Media companies earlier this year mounted an aggressive but unsuccessful lobbying push against the plan to put political ad data online. After the FCC voted to institute the system, industry trade group the National Association of Broadcasters sued. That lawsuit, in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, was put on hold until early next year while TV stations tried out the new system in the election.

Industry spokesman Dennis Wharton told ProPublica that no final decisions have been made about whether to pursue the suit.

There are some scheduled changes ahead.The system, which currently covers only the four affiliates of the major networks in the top 50 broadcast markets, will expand to cover all TV stations beginning in July 2014. That will increase the political ad spending reported on the FCC website in the midterm elections. The FCC has promised to seek comment in July 2013 on the impact of the expansion of the system before it goes into effect.



* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data

* New Political Ad Disclosure Rules Could Take Months

* Republicans Vote To Block Transparency On Political Ads

* Media Companies Make Yet Another Push To Defang Transparency Rule

* Republicans Back Down On Effort To Defund Transparency Rule

* Political Ad Transparency Rule Clears Another Hurdle

* Broadcasters Make Emergency Motion To Block Transparency Rule

* Free The Files: Find Dark Money Flowing Into Your Local TV Stations

* Free The Files Volunteers Unlock $160 Million In Ad Buys In First Week

* Reporting Recipe: Four Stories You Can Write Using Free the Files

* Free The Files Tracks $294 Million In TV Ads, With Obama Topping Buyer List

* Dark Money & The 2012 Election


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

December 6, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Getting caught unknowingly packing heat at the airport seems like a relatively common occurrence - isn't it just about every week that one celebrity or another "forgets" they have a gun in their carry-on?

(Wayne Coyne's grenade story is only a slightly different version of this by-now well-worn tale.)

So it would be easy to suggest that Donne Trotter made a stupid mistake and should be sent on his way. As Rich Miller points out on his Capitol Fax Blog, the law requires intent to be prosecutable.

But here's the tricky part.

As Miller also points out, a flight attendant in a similar situation recently was charged recently despite claiming she had no idea her husband had left a loaded gun in carry-on luggage that they shared, though there doesn't seem to be anyone reporting on her November 30 court date or whether the case is still being prosecuted.

I wonder how many folks caught by the TSA with guns or other weaponry have been let go because intent could not be proved - or if the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, in this case, has at least tried to throw the book at those reckless souls who somehow don't know what's in their luggage.

Trotter must be treated the same as every other schmo, but the problem is if every other schmo is getting screwed. I'm agnostic on the matter because I'm not sure how these cases are usually handled.

The dilemma now faced by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is similar to the one she faces on whether to prosecute members of the Emanuel administration for recording phone calls with reporters without their consent in the sense that the law itself is ridiculous, yet Rahm's crew ought to be treated just like everyone else (and recording reporters without consent seems particularly devious).

Anyway, I'm not sure this will really impact Trotter's bid to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, despite what some pundits are saying; I'm not certain his actions will be construed as so lacking in judgement as to disqualify him. I mean, c'mon, compared to what?

Plus, he might have the NRA vote locked up!


Trotter had to spend the night in a police lock-up; he's expected to appear in court today and make bail.


"The South Side lawmaker told authorities that he worked late Tuesday night as a security guard for Allpoints Security and Detective Inc. and had packed his bag early Wednesday morning," the Tribune reports.

Donne Trotter moonlights as a security guard?

Now that might be held against him.


Has he voted on any security guard legislation?


From Allpoints Security:

"If you are unemployed or unhappy with your current job or career than Allpoints Security and Detective, Inc., may be the place for you, provided you are a person of high morals honest, truthful, and capable of meeting the standards of performance set forth by the security industry."

The Rahmfather
"As questions mounted about alleged mob ties at a company that won a new custodial services deal at O'Hare International Airport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to change the subject by suspending three companies unrelated to the janitor pact," the Tribune reports.

"In recent days, officials at Service Employees International Union Local 1 have called for investigations into alleged mob ties at United Maintenance Inc., which got a $99 million airport contract.

"Paul Fosco, a vice president at United Maintenance's parent company, went to prison following 1987 charges of racketeering conspiracy related to a scheme to swindle the Laborers Union through manipulation of lucrative benefit plans. Alleged former Chicago outfit boss Anthony 'Big Tuna' Accardo was charged in the same case as Fosco, but acquitted.

"Asked Wednesday whether it's appropriate for the company to have the five-year deal in light of Fosco's conviction, Emanuel pointed out the contract was competitively bid, and said his administration will 'have a vigorous enforcement and make sure everybody lives by and appropriately stands by the law.'"

So it would be okay with Rahm if these guys landed a contract or two at the casino the city is on the verge of landing?


It's previously been reported that United Maintenance president Richard Simon is a former business associate of reputed mobster William "Potatoes" Daddano.

The [Vanecko] Papers II
Basically a good kid?

Days In The Life Of WGN
Bozos and Belushi.

Honoring A Jazz Legend
Chicago Takes Five With Dave Brubeck.

Toasty Texts
Empty Bottle Hosts A Pop-Up Book Fair.

Barrel-Aged Brew
In The Beer Thinker.

Kool-Aid Report
Bears Nation Turns Its Eyes To A Great Dane.

Programming Note
I'm scheduled to appear on WBEZ's Morning Shift on Friday to discuss the week's biggest stories, so tune in. Or not.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Guns, roses.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

The [Vanecko] Papers II: Basically A Good Kid?

Bill Daley described his nephew, R. J. Vanecko, as "basically a good kid" on Wednesday, and you know what? That isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

It's also hard to square with the fact that Vanecko fled the scene after throwing the punch that killed David Koschman - and refused from day one to speak to police.

That's not what a "good" kid does, even on the advice of a lawyer - not when a mother is grieving the death of her son.

He's also not a kid - he's 38. That means he was somewhere around 30 when he killed Koschman.

Look, accidents happen, and so do bar fights. It wasn't a fair fight, given the respective sizes of each combatant, but so be it. No one is suggesting that Vanecko meant to do anything but punch Koschman in the face; the charge against him isn't homicide.

But one thing we know Vanecko is clearly guilty of already is not being a stand-up guy willing to accept responsibility and accountability. Maybe it's genetic.


"The death of the young man was a terrible tragedy eight years ago," Bill Daley told the Sun-Times. "The pain which his family has felt over those years, anyone who has lost a child knows that. It's an irreplaceable pain."

Given that, Bill, did your family ever reach out to the Koschmans? Did family members ever urge R.J. to cooperate with police - you know, the way the family admonishes poor black people in gang neighborhoods to cooperate with police? Did any family member ever have contact with police or prosecutors? Was the incident ever discussed at the dinner table, say over Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner?


"Once, not long ago, Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko worked for a Chicago investment company that financed Hollywood movies starring Robert De Niro and Cameron Diaz," the Sun-Times reports. "He went to parties at the Sundance Film Festival. He tried his hand at television."

But . . .

"Sneed is told that Vanecko, who returns to Chicago from his home in California for his arraignment Monday, has intermittently sought and held jobs on movie sets but 'is kind of a bust-out, unable to make enough money to support himself,' according to a Sneed source familiar with him."


The "R.J." stands for "Richard J." as in "Richard J. Daley."


"Vanecko grew up in Sauganash, the pricey, tree-lined neighborhood on the city's Far Northwest Side," the Sun-Times notes.

"He is the youngest son of Mary Carol Daley and her husband Dr. Robert M. Vanecko , a surgeon and former chief of staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital."


"Vanecko is particularly close to his cousin Patrick Daley, son of the second Mayor Daley . . . When they were in high school, Vanecko , then 17, and Patrick Daley, then 16, made headlines when they threw a drinking party on Feb. 29, 1992, at Mayor Daley's second home, in Grand Beach. The party ended when Vanecko held a 20-gauge shotgun as one of Patrick Daley's classmates, Mark Lawler, clubbed an Indiana teen in the head with a baseball bat, according to police reports and a civil lawsuit that was settled in 1995 for undisclosed terms."

But he's basically a good kid.


"The Indiana teen suffered a skull fracture and underwent brain surgery, just as Koschman would years later. Unlike Koschman, he recovered after 10 days in the hospital.

"Vanecko pleaded guilty to aiming a firearm without malice and possession of alcohol, both misdemeanors, and Patrick Daley pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to minors and disturbing the peace. Each was given probation. Lawler, who has since died, was found guilty of aggravated assault."


How he got to Hollywood:

Vanecko was 24 and living in an apartment in Uptown when he first registered to vote in Chicago, for the February 1999 mayoral election. By 2001, he had become a salesman for Taft Contracting, a machinery-moving company that was once represented by his uncle's law firm.

While at Taft, Vanecko met actor Matt Walsh, whose father, Richard Walsh, owned the company. Vanecko left Taft, which is no longer in business, in 2005.

Matt Walsh, who lives in Los Angeles, has appeared in movies including The Hangover, Ted and Old School and co-starred in the HBO TV series Veep.

Vanecko assisted Walsh with Players, a Spike TV sitcom that Walsh created and produced, and has been a panelist in Walsh's Bear Down: Chicago Bears Podcast, which airs weekly from Los Angeles during football season.


And then there's R.J.'s brother, Robert.

"The onetime business partner of former Mayor Richard Daley's son who was ensnared in a federal minority contract investigation has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his failure to disclose two key investors in a sewer company that got city work," the Tribune reported earlier this year.

"The undisclosed investors previously have been identified by the Tribune as the former mayor's son, Patrick Daley, and the former mayor's nephew, Robert Vanecko."


"After years of a free ride courtesy of a clout-laden deal, Lollapalooza might have to start paying Cook County taxes," the Tribune also reported earlier this year.

"Commissioners voted Wednesday to require organizers of events such as the giant summer lakefront music festival to come to the County Board for approval of a long-running tax break.

"The organizers have had county and city amusement taxes waived since relaunching Lollapalooza in Grant Park in 2005. It was part of a deal brokered with the help of lobbyist Robert Vanecko - a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley."


And then there's brother Mark.

"Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's nephew is hoping to cash in on the coming video gambling market in bars and clubs across Illinois," the Tribune reported last year.

"Mark Vanecko, who's been an attorney for Chicago bars and the Lollapalooza concert, is a partner in Lattner Entertainment Group Illinois, which has applied for a state license to operate slot machines in liquor-serving establishments."

I'm sure they're all basically good kids.


* The [Vanecko] Papers I: Alvarez


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Chicago Takes Five With Dave Brubeck

"His Music Gave Jazz New Pop."

1. By the Chicago School of Rock.


2. At the Music Institute of Chicago.


3. At State and Madison.


4. The original.


5. Recorded in Chicago in 1964.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

The Empty Bottle Is Hosting A Pop-Up Book Fair

In conjunction with Chicago Writers House and The Chicagoan, Curbside Splendor Publishing presents:


Chicago's finest independent publishers will be on hand hocking their goods. Quimby's Bookstore will also stock a table with a selection of books/zines penned by Chicagoans. The bar will be open so grab a cocktail and listen to live music all afternoon as you ogle some books and satiate your bibliophiliac needs!


FREE with an RSVP here.

Otherwise $5 at the door.

This tasty event is 21+ unless minors are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Great Dane, A Freaked Bears Nation Turns Its Eyes To You

Boy did that asshole ever make our front seven look hurt and old.

A mirror has the same effect, but still.

To be fair to the defense, I doubt Rod Marinelli dialed up any schemes that account for the QB rolling out and running for first-down yardage - eight consecutive times. Next time we play the Seahawks, I'll lobby to get my 10-year-old nephew on the sidelines so the Bears can employ the defensive strategy he uses against his friends in online Madden '09 matchups.

Next (Ger)Man Up
Fans of the 2011 preseason, get ready to don your "Don't Sanzen The Bacher" t-shirts and have that passion for strudel set ablaze; due to a stunning lack of available players, the Great Dane is ready to make his triumphant return to the end zone!

Seven yards per reception, sweaty eyebrows*, a roster spot; taken in the context of Bears wide receiving history, you're looking at the total package.

To say that the Bears are experiencing a "rash" of injuries is like saying the reason your healthy colon cells are being eaten is because your cancer is feeling "peckish." Pieces of this team are falling off fast enough to declare leprosy.

Geno Hayes, Nick Roach, whoever the hell is going to replace Lance Briggs when he tears an oblique near the end of the first half, COME ON DOWN! Do the Bucs have a backup punter we can sign? Great! Adam Podlesh isn't injured, but the way he's kicking he might as well be.

Good News Everyone

  • In a twist of scheduling** the Bears are somehow playing the Minnesota Vikings for the second time in three weeks.
  • Christian Ponder is still the Vikings quarterback and he is still only marginally better than Tarvaris Jackson, who is now in Buffalo (via Seattle) and is yet to hit the field this season.
  • Percy Harvin is on injured reserve. He can't hurt us from there. Much.
  • Our linebackers weren't going to be able stop Adrian Peterson anyway. The upcoming 212-yard performance will happen no matter who we run out there.

Bad News Everyone

  • This is essentially a win-or-die game for the Vikings. (Gabe Carimi has declared it's a "RIDE OR DIE" game for the Bears, but screaming DMX lyrics at the top of your lungs on the team plane doesn't usually translate into victories, so stop it.)
  • With 20% of all Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episodes being filmed in the Twin City metro area, the remaining healthy Bears will play through the pain of diarrhea. On a positive note, Guy Fieri will be signed to take the place of Evan Rodriguez after the fullback is injured slipping on a grease puddle.

Kool-Aid (2 Out Of 5 Pitchers Of Actual Kool-Aid With A Shot Of Cyanide)
Sorry, I needed that.

The Bears deserved to lose that game, given the way the defense played. I see that now. I'm hurt and it's going to take some time for me to forgive. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to hit Legal Zoom to purchase some important DNR forms.

The sad thing is that this season will still likely include a playoff run. The Bears will beat the Vikings and the Cardinals. Following that, I feel a case of First Round Bounce coming on. Achoo.

My New Year's resolution is to stop procrastinating at work, so in the spirit of getting ahead of things, I'll just throw a "DAMN YOU RG3!" out there in advance.

The Seahawks proved me wrong last week, but they're just a plain ol' better team than Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and some collection of other players.

Bears win, but I'm not getting too excited about it.

Bears 20
Vikings 13


*I'm looking forward to explaining to my wife why I have that picture of Sanzenbacher on my desktop.

**Can a turn of phrase be manipulated into an oxymoron? Your move Mr. Oxford Webster, king of words.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:34 AM | Permalink

The Beer Thinker: Barreled Over

Being admitted to a craft beer festival and then being stuck in an elevator at said festival for an hour, unable to taste any of the beers that hundreds of other folks are enjoying just a few dozen feet away at that very moment, is about the worst thing a beer drinker can imagine.

It didn't happen to me, thank God, but it did happen to several other poor souls at last month's Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer (FoBAB), which took place at the Skyline Loft in the charming 19th Century building that houses the Bridgeport Art Center.

I was extremely happy when I scored tickets to this year's FoBAB, something I had failed to do two years running, and happier still when I was able to attend despite having a seven-months-pregnant-with-twins wife at home. In the days leading up to the fest, I was fearing something would come up, like an extremely justifiable demand from my wife that I stay home to watch over her, or even an early labor, but in the end, the uterus held.

So by the time Brother Mike and I walked through the doors at FoBAB, I was eager to get the day started, eager enough that we decided to skip a long line in front of the elevator to hike up the five flights of stairs to the beer hall. It turned out that many of the people we saw in line as we passed by were the ones trapped for an hour in an elevator that stalled a short time later. I'm not sure what perks these folks received for their troubles (I heard secondhand that it was extra tasting tickets for free), but the thing about FoBAB is that there is no replacement for lost time.

With more than 170 entries and four hours to try them, even not getting stuck in an elevator doesn't leave you with enough time to try everything. I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I had a few drink tickets left over at the end of my stay (that pregnant wife having only so much patience).

Here's a sampling of what I sampled:

Lakefront Brewery Rye Barrel-Aged Fuel Coffee Stout: Probably my favorite of the afternoon and the best beer I've had from this Milwaukee brewer. Like fresh-brewed coffee with chocolate and a creamy finish reminiscent of a latte loaded with extra shots - of alcohol in this case, rather than espresso.

Local Option Barrel-Aged Kentucky Common: From the Local Option tavern, brewed by Against the Grain in Louisville. Very interesting mix of sweet and sour flavors, and you can really taste the barrel. It almost tastes like a blend of beer, bourbon and wine, which is a lot better than it sounds. I haven't tried the non-barrel-aged version of this for comparison, but would like to, and have heard both have been on tap at Local Option.

Hoppin' Frog Barrel-Aged Frosted Frog Christmas: This Akron brewery has been moving up my list since I tried its imperial stout a couple months ago. This one has all the marks of a typical Christmas beer, including ginger spiciness and a nutty warmth, but as expected, the barreled version jacks up the booziness and gives it a strong vanilla flavor a little reminiscent of a shot of bourbon with a sugar cookie chaser.

Flossmoor Station Busman's Holiday: The suburban brewpub's Pullman Brown is a great example of the nut brown style, but this milk stout is now my favorite from Flossmoor. It has a big flavor of blended coffee, chocolate and vanilla, but not the boozy wallop of so many barrel-aged beers. Very balanced.

There were many more than I have time to list here. It was fun trying stuff that in most cases you don't see anywhere else, and attending FoBAB gave me an appreciation of beer aging in general. I have never been much of a homebrewer, but I think that aging beers in the bottle, in the right environment and at the right temperature, is a hobby I can embrace. I'm already starting to buy a few barrel-aged brews stocked at stores, and hoping to "lay them down," as the beer hobbyists say (though I'm not sure why, since most of them also say beer should never be stored on its side). Trying one bottle now, then another after three or six months in storage, then a third a year or two down the road sounds like a good hobby for a new dad, something I can tend to even with my hands full of two baby Beer Thinkers.

Beer Wire
* The Sun-Times reports on John Laffler's departure from Goose Island to start Off Color Brewing. This was the biggest piece of post-FoBAB news, as Laffler led Goose's highly regarded barrel-aging program.

* The Reader's Beer and Metal takes on Founder's Bolt Cutter, the latest in a run of rare and limited-edition or anniversary releases from craft breweries that have been hitting stores recently, if only for minutes at a time before they sell out.

* Guys Drinking Beer highlights the impressive list of holiday beers available at Poag Mahone's in the Loop.

* The Boozy Beggar notes a December 7 Small Bar tapping of Oskar Blues Ten Fidy and Smidy. I just tried Ten Fidy for the first time a few weeks ago and can say this imperial stout is my favorite so far from the Colorado brewery.

* Finally, Fischman Liquors & Tavern, otherwise known as one of the Beer Thinker's local taps, is planning Fisch-mas, a festival of holiday craft beers, on Saturday, December 15.


Previously in The Beer Thinker:
* Tapping Lincoln Square
* Size Matters
* Lagunitas Changes Everything
* Make Beer, Not War
* Collaboration Brewing
* Summer Brew
* Mothership Goose
* The Pumpkin Is A Fruit, An Ale And A Lager


Dan O'Shea is The Beer Thinker. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:10 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Days In The Life Of WGN

Hey, it could happen to anyone.

1. Hey, it looked real.

Much credit to WGN for the way they handled the goof. ("Do you think they have these problems at Channel 7? I don't think so!")

2. Speaking of WGN, I appeared there recently to discuss Jesse Jackson Jr. both on their news show and on CLTV, which is also owned by Tribune Company and works out of the same space. First, an anecdote I previously included in some other reporting, isolated here for its goodness. And then some photos.


I sat at a desk just a few feet from Lisnek as he did the open for CLTV's Politics Tonight. Then I was asked to sit next to Lisnek for our segment on Jesse Jackson Jr. Except there wasn't a chair available for me, so Lisnek looked around and spotted one just a few steps away. At the same time I was about to get mic'd up from a mic guy who had walked up upon us.

LISNEK to MIC GUY: Should I grab that chair?

MIC GUY: I don't have anything to do with that.

ME: I'll grab it.

LISNEK: No, you don't understand. It's a union thing. He's not in the right union.

The mic guy couldn't grab the chair, and neither could Lisnek, without violating union rules.

Fortunately, a guy from the right union appeared just in time to move the chair and I sat down and got mic'd up with about half a second to spare.


While there, I also took some photos with my crappy 1965 cell phone.

Here's WGN's crappy "green room."



Here's a big Family Guy poster in the hallway. I asked for one of my own to no avail.



Here's me hanging around the set with Jim Belushi.


I actually tried out several variations of "Hey, how many times a day does someone go over there and punch Jim Belushi in the face?" but got absolutely no play.


And here's me with Taylor Swift.


Nahhhh, that was taken earlier in the day at Walgreens.


Note: I'm not oblivious to the fact that my hair is weird (and I often look exhausted because I am); you just have no idea how uncontrollable it really is. And frankly, a certain segment of the female population digs it. So suck it.

(I'm fairly certain my hair is a big reason why I don't get invited onto Chicago Tonight: Week in Review anymore. Host Joel Weisman once called me a hippie - because that's the only reference some folk have - and suggested that I take their $90 appearance fee and spend it on a barber. You know what? I always wanted to be this kind of journalist . . .


. . . not this kind: JeffZelenysmall_normal.JPG

It's just that Thompson was balding from an early age.


I variously get Bill Maher, Bono and George Washington, so I'm okay with that.

3. The Lost Bozo Tape.

"A rare 1971 recording of WGN-TV's legendary Bozo's Circus will be broadcast for the first time in 41 years as part of an hour-long primetime special titled Bozo's Circus: The Lost Tape on Sunday, December 9 at 7 p.m. CT on WGN-TV Chicago.

"The special presentation will be hosted by WGN's Dean Richards and streamed live for viewers outside the Chicago area on

"Rebroadcasts are scheduled for Saturday, December 15 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 23 at noon on WGN 9.2 Antenna TV Chicago; and Christmas Day (Tuesday, December 25) at noon CT on WGN-TV Chicago and nationally on WGN America."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

December 5, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday brushed aside allegations that the owner of a company awarded a $99 million O'Hare Airport janitorial contract was the longtime business partner of a man with ties to organized crime," the Sun-Times reports.

More ado about nothing.

"We had a competitive process. This company won and they're now offering jobs to the other [union] workers to also work for them at the airport doing the janitorial services," Rahm said.

Hey, if the mob wins a competitive process, they win a competitive process. I'm sure they provide competitive service at a competitive price. If nothing else, the mob is awfully competitive.


"I would note that that same company has a number of contracts with high-rises downtown in the city of Chicago with SEIU [Service Employees International Union]," Rahm said. "So, there's a fuller story, a more complete story. There's more than just one side to this story."

Besides the fact that doing business with private concerns doesn't in any way justify public contracts going to mobbed up businesses, Rahm once again has his facts screwed up.

Laura Garza, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 1, said the mayor was dead-wrong.

"United Maintenance does not have a contract with us for any commercial buildings. They have no contracts with us in commercial buildings period. In the past, they had contracts with two buildings for four workers. They expired," Garza said.

The contracts, not the workers. Right?


"The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that United Maintenance owner Richard Simon was involved in another company with alleged mob figure William Daddano Jr. - from 1998 until that firm was officially disbanded on Dec. 17, 2011, according to state records.

"Lisa Madigan in 2004 labeled the Daddanos as mobsters," Garza said. "We're calling on the inspector general and the attorney general to investigate this [to determine] whether they're a reputable contractor to do business with the city."

Right. The Daddanos. Everybody knows that.

"An Emanuel administration spokesman responded by saying City Hall had 'no reason to believe that there is any wrongdoing with United Maintenance or its owner. However, if material issues arise, the city would take appropriate action to protect its interests.'"

I think one just did!

"United Maintenance issued its own statement that insisted that, 'at no time was anyone at United aware of allegations' against any of its business partners."

Well, you can't blame United Maintenance for apparently not reading the papers.

In 2004, Attorney General Lisa Madigan described Daddano and three other family members as "reputed members of organized crime" as she opposed Rosemont's bid to open a casino.

And in a "Chicago Outfit Organizational Chart" published in 1997, the Chicago Crime Commission listed Daddano among the "members and associates" of the mob's North Side crew . . .

Daddano is the son of the late mobster William "Potatoes" Daddano. Reached on his cell phone, Daddano hung up on a Sun-Times reporter.

If a material issue arises, Potatoes will call you back.

Electric Rahm Orchestra
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has dropped plans to take a portion of the savings going to city residents from a new bulk electricity purchasing program and spend it on clean-energy projects, administration officials said Tuesday on the eve of public hearings," the Tribune reports.

"Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, the mayor's council floor leader, said the administration never intended to levy a surcharge."


Sign Co-Sign
"Former Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica was sentenced to four months of courts supervision Tuesday after a judge found him guilty of defacing a former rival's campaign signs," the Sun-Times reports.

It was either that or run him for judge.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended his decision to constrict traffic on a popular street that runs through the heart of Chicago's congested downtown area - by installing 12 blocks of protected bike lanes along Dearborn between Polk and Kinzie," the Sun-Times reports.

Hey, you can always drive.

Er, take the CTA.

Er, ride a bike.

Er, fuck you.

The [Vanecko] Papers
Part I: Anita Alvarez is quickly becoming toxic.

The Race To Replace
Political Odds UPDATED.

Fiscal Rock
Song of the Moment: Over The Cliff.

Or Think Of The Cliff As A Bluff
In QT.

Fantasy Fix: MVPs
In the fantasy world, only one Bear qualifies - and it's not the one they talk about in the real world.

Gay Press, Ancient Art
In Local Book Notes.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Fish and chip.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 AM | Permalink

The [Vanecko] Papers I: Alvarez

So far it looks like Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez stands to come out the biggest loser in the Vanecko indictment, which is somewhat remarkable considering that she does not appear to have been involved in the original case - just the most recent chapter of the cover-up.

I suppose that's because Richard M. Daley is no longer mayor, and Daley's pal Dick Devine is no longer state's attorney. Phil Cline is no longer the police chief, for that matter, so Alvarez is the biggest target left standing - Vanecko himself notwithstanding.

Alvarez is finally facing scrutiny of a sort for a series of bungles that have tarnished her tenure as the county's prosecutor-in-chief. By the time the Vanecko case is over, that tarnish just might make her toxic.

On Tuesday, Alvarez was forced to order a "top-to-bottom" review of hazing allegations at Maine West High School. Will the actions of her own office be part of that review?

"Police have said they originally sought felony charges for the teens, but prosecutors declined, saying they did not have enough evidence," the Sun-Times reports.


From Friday's Beachwood:

Paging Anita "After a controversial trial that sparked interest in the legal community, a Chicago attorney has been acquitted of charges she improperly let a suspect in the slaying of a Chicago police officer use her cellphone in an interrogation room," the Tribune reports.

"A Cook County jury deliberated a little less than three hours Thursday evening before clearing Sladjana Vuckovic on two counts of bringing contraband into a penal institution."


"The charges sparked controversy among criminal-defense lawyers who said they routinely bring their cellphones into police interview rooms and sometimes let clients make calls," the Tribune reported on Thursday. "Some veteran attorneys said they could not remember a similar case ever being pursued by police."

Tough week for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who seems intent on bringing vengeful picayune cases on behalf of the Chicago Police Department - while being less aggressive on cases that really matter.

And while I think David Protess's actions in his dispute with Alvarez were grievously wrong, her method of responding was not wise.

Finally, this headline says it all about this ridiculous prosecution: "Alvarez Trades 'Guilty' Plea on NATO Terrorism Charge for Four Months in Boot Camp: Defendant opts for guilty plea rather than indefinite term in jail for making remarks about nonexistent bomb in non-existent Harry Potter book in alcohol-fueled remarks to undercover cops."


Alvarez was sworn in for a second term on Monday. Predictably, she did not face a challenge in the Democratic primary, and only had token opposition in the general.

That's how Cook County rolls.

But if the early evidence is any indication, she won't be around for the 2016 swearing-in - if she even lasts that long.


Astonishingly, Alvarez said on Monday that she had opened her own grand jury on the Koschman case.

If you have the patience to cope with this typically wonky WTTW video, you'll see Carol Marin respond to that bit of news by saying that people close to the probe do not find that credible. It's not clear if they don't find the statement credible - that Alvarez is lying about empaneling a grand jury - or if they don't find the grand jury she empaneled to have been credible because of the way she ran it.


"We were in the process of reviewing this case, looking at everything in this case - everything - reinterviewing witnesses, looking at all aspects [of] the underlying case as well as any kind of corruption or cover-up," she said on Monday.

Did she call herself as a witness?

"She said her grand jury was looking into the Koschman case for 'months, almost close to a year,' though she could not remember when her grand jury investigation began."

It was a secret even to her!


At least Alvarez is cuter than a ladybug.


More on Thursday.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Gay Press, Ancient Art

Over the transom.

1. New Book Examines The History Of The Gay Press And Its Contribution To Gay Rights.

"As gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals became more visible in the 1950s and 1960s, the mainstream media perpetuated the attitude that they were mentally ill and morally depraved queers, freaks, degenerates, perverts, misfits, and even threats to national security. In many cities, the police raided gay bars, harassing and arresting patrons.

"Community-based gay newsletters and newspapers emerged to counteract the distorted view of non-heterosexuals and to support the rising gay-rights movement. They addressed gay issues, formed a sense of unity, announced demonstrations, and tracked the progress of legal and political action.

"Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America, edited and co-written by Tracy Baim, publisher of Chicago's gay publication Windy City Times, is a comprehensive overview of the past, present, and future of gay print media.

"Baim uses essays, interviews, and hundreds of news clips and images from both mainstream and early gay publications to describe the critical role of the gay press. Award-winning historian John D'Emilio provided the book's foreword.

Part One covers the history of discrimination against non-heterosexuals throughout the 20th century and the birth of gay and lesbian publications, including Friendship & Freedom, Vice Versa, ONE, Mattachine Review, and The Ladder.

"Part Two is a series of essays by and about journalists who documented the gay movement, recounting their experiences and providing observations and insights.

"Part Three features the history of 10 gay publications in 10 major cities as told by their publishers, editors or reporters. Each one represents the challenges, risks, and struggles to survive that were common among almost all gay periodicals.

"Part Four focuses on the business of gay publications. Initially, funding came from subscribers and classified ads since advertisers were reluctant to buy display ads - until they realized the growing gay population was a potentially profitable untapped market. Many major brands, retail stores, restaurant chains and service providers began targeting the gay community through its publications and even in some mainstream magazines.

"Part Five reflects on the contribution of the gay press, yet debates its value as a source of news and advocacy in the era of the Internet, social media, and the economics of print media."

2. Poetic Ancient Art.

"The Poetry Foundation celebrates the opening of the Art Institute of Chicago's new Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of ancient art with a multi-discplinary event spotlighting the great thinkers and writers of antiquity.

"Local actors read passages from such authors as Homer, Plotinus,Sophocles, Seneca, and Virgil, while Hubbard Street dancers interpret the images and ideas of this great literature. Co-sponsored with Hubbard StreetDance and the Art Institute of Chicago.

What: Poetry & Dance: Word Outleaps the World
When: Thursday, December 13, 6 p.m.
Where: Art Institute of Chicago, Fullerton Hall, 111 South Michigan Avenue
Admission: Free with museum admission


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: Over The Cliff

This Jon Langford classic isn't, of course, about the fiscal cliff in Washington, D.C., but in some ways it might as well be - it's about a man leaving the world that creates fiscal cliffs because he's just too damn honest to continue perpetrating a fraud that makes him feel sick.

Here's the original version, which appeared on the first Bloodshot Records sampler, For A Life Of Sin.

Like many great works of art, it can be interpreted as both an individual tale and a universal one.

"The reason 'Over The Cliff' resonates so strongly with me is that its all that punk rock defiance that I've always loved, but it's not about being a teenager," Dan Solomon wrote on Tumblr.

"I mean, I love 'Rise Above' and 'In My Eyes' and all those songs, too, but I am thirty years old and I have a career. They haven't really empowered me in a long time.

"But 'Over The Cliff' is for people who are at this point in life, maybe - people who've had folks in LA and New York sending faxes and who worked hard and got some money and who are sick of the way it made them feel powerless..

"And so 'Over The Cliff' feels like punk rock for grown-ups . . . it doesn't just rebel against faceless authority - it rebels against the fact that even though you worked to get where you are, it's not where you wanted to be, and it's about fighting to get there.

"And if that requires a 'forgive me and forget me, everybody' - cool, that's what it takes. Because while it's easy at 17 to shout that success on someone else's terms don't mean a fuckin' thing, you haven't been tested yet. Repeating that when you've got more to lose, though - that means something more."

Blender called the song one in a collection of "mini-country-rock masterpieces" from Langford "which masquerade as minimalist sketches [and] attack cutthroat capitalism's notion of achievement."

And New Times said that "If Hank Williams were alive today (and a member of the Green or Socialist parties), he'd quite likely record an album that sounds as tart, cool, and wild as this one."

The Old 97s covered "Over The Cliff" on their Bloodshot debut Wreck Your Life and the song also appeared on Langford's All The Fame Of Lofty Deeds.

It has never charted, heh-heh.


Well I worked hard and I got lots of money
And I try hard but i don't want to stay
I've seen too much trouble, felt too much pressure bubble
i know there had to be a better way

I wouldn't mind if you thought I was worth it
Or you'd slap me down when I misbehave
But everybody knows I've got flunkies here in tow
To clean up all the messes that I've made

I'm going over the cliff
I'm going over the cliff
It's hard to tell if life is a burden or a gift
I'm going over the cliff

So forgive me or forget me everybody
I guess I always had this honest streak
I'm sick of all the yawning, the bitching and the bawling
I'm sick of feeling powerless and weak

Please don't call me cool just call me asshole
because I will be a beggar not a king
And the devil don't care if you're a chip or you're a fish
I'm going over the cliff

I'm going over the cliff
I'm going over the cliff
Success on someone else's terms don't mean a fucking' thing
I'm going over the cliff

In New York and LA they're sending faxes
So the company can wash their hands of this
There was no one there to look after me or care
I'm going over the cliff


Here's the opening 30 seconds of a different version.


And here's the Old 97s covering the song at Lounge Ax. This appeared on the Bloodshot DVD compilation Bloodied But Unbowed.


Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man
* White Riot
* Know Your Rights
* Chicago Teacher
* Youngstown


See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

QT: Or Think Of The Cliff As A Bluff

News Headline: "Fiscal cliff looms over U.S. economy."
OK. Wait.
If the fiscal cliff looms over us, doesn't that mean we already fell off it?
Forget the economy.
We're losing control of our metaphors.


News Headline: "Fiscal cliff negotiators face high hurdles."
News Headline: "Fiscal cliff a minefield for U.S. political parties."
News Headline: "A path around the fiscal cliff."
Tell you what.
We can handle the cliff.
Just have someone get us around the high hurdles and the minefield.


News Headline: "Jessica Biel reveals she decapitated Barbie dolls as a kid, decorates Christmas tree with them today."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


The Case for Zero Tolerance of Modern School Administrators:
Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla., went into lockdown and called a hazmat crew when a student brought a mercury thermometer to school for a chemistry project.


News Item: ". . . found to cause treatment-related fatal events. . . ."
News Item: ". . . work-related fatal events. . . ."
Peter Fuller, a Chicago reader, wants to know when did deaths become "fatal events," and when can we have deaths back?
And. . . .


News Headline: "Pope starts personal Twitter account."
The latest from Pope Benedict XVI as of this writing:
"@Pontifex hasn't tweeted yet."
Well. OK.
You might not be so speedy, either, if you were responsible for infallible tweets.


n canit realy B d 20th aNvrsrE dis week of txtN?
dis S also nat Read a b%k mth, by d wa.
just chooz an old fav:
twas A1 of tyms, twas d wrst of tyms, twas d age of wis, twas d age of . . . .


News Headline: "Whiskey restores man's eyesight after vodka blinds him."
The blindness had to do with methanol in the vodka.
The ethanol in the whiskey neutralized the methanol, curing the blindness.
And QT sees it has been right all along in maintaining its preventive regimens.


News Headline: "New study links athletes' repetitive head injuries to degenerative brain disease."
As of the XIIth week of the NFL season, players had suffered CXXVII concussions (CLXXV counting the exhibition season).
At this rate, expect XL or more concussions before Super Bowl XLVII.


Modern Education + the Criminal Mind =
A young woman who robbed a bank in Waco, Neb., went home to post a YouTube video with the title "Chick Robs Bank."
The video has had more than 92,000 views, including views by a sufficient number by police.


News Headline: "Hay shortage on farmers' minds as winter nears."
This is what we always get with the overproduction of straw men in an election year.


Rush Limbaugh regarding presidential campaigns:
"Presidents used to never go on shows like Leno or Letterman. Now they live there. Is it an indication of how dumbed down our culture's become?"
It happens hardly ever.
But in the holiday spirit:
When he's right, he's right.


News Item: ". . . enough cell phones to stretch from San Francisco to the North Pole and back. . . ."
Or the distance covered by 26,188 Empire State Buildings laid end to end, if you are still trying to visualize it.


From Poor QT's Almanack:
On this day in history 19 years ago Timon of Athens closed after only 37 performances on Broadway, which seems to have put Shakespeare in his place.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Item: ". . . budget continues to tow the line directed by the slowly recovering economy. . . ."
News Item: ". . . failure to tow the line of 'Socialist Realism,' which. . . ."
G.S., a Chicago reader, warns that it is impossible to toe the line properly when we are busing trying to tow a line.
And to the readers who, reading in QT that the reindeer's name is Donder, not Donner, wrote to say that Donner is the one who ate all the other reindeer:
Ho, Ho, Ho!

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: MVPs

This will be me last Fantasy Fix column for several weeks as I take some time off. I'll be back in time for fantasy baseball draft preparations, and the start of spring training.

With that in mind, we'll call this one my fantasy football year in review. Most fantasy football leagues begin postseason play this week, and if you're still looking for any last-minute advice, I'll leave that to the Expert Wire below.

Instead, here are my fantasy MVPs by position:

QB: Robert Griffin III. The easy choice even though he hasn't led the league in passing yards or TDs. Those six rushing TDS are as good as gold though. Peyton Manning gets an honorable mention for playing like a younger version of himself.

RB: Arian Foster. Fifteen total TDs and counting beats a nice comeback season from Adrian Peterson and a huge rookie campaign from Doug Martin.

WR: Brandon Marshall. Call this one the upset. More receiving yards than A.J. Green and more TDs than Calvin Johnson, Marshall was the most consistent player week to week at his position.

TE: Tony Gonzalez. When Rob Gronkowski went down with an injury, it opened the door for Gonzalez to lead this group. Second in receiving yards among TEs with 770, and his eight TDs are way more than yardage leader Jason Witten, who has had just one.

Expert Wire
* SB Nation ranks highly available QBs, and Jay Cutler is still managing to hang around.

* Bleacher Report lists a few fantasy playoff sleepers.

* NFL News says Ben Roethlisberger could be a fantasy factor in the playoffs.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 AM | Permalink

December 4, 2012

Tuesday Funk #52

Come kick off the holiday season in style with your friends at Tuesday Funk, Chicago's eclectic reading series where good writing and good beer mix!

We're pleased to present the first in a series of readings featuring authors from the new 2nd Story essay anthology Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck.

Julia Borcherts and [former Beachwood White Sox Report correspondent] Andrew Reilly will be on hand to read their contributions, and we'll also have Maggie Kast, Stephen Markley, and Jodi Eichelberger with us. Throw in one of our patented Poems by Bill, not to mention your pick of cold beers from around the world, and you have the recipe for a fantastic hour or two of live literature.

The evening gets underway with your co-hosts Sara Ross Witt and William Shunn on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012, 7:30 pm, in the upstairs lounge at the newly expanded and renovated Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St.

Arrive early for a table and grab a beer from Mark at the cash-only bar. We start seating at 7:00 pm and no earlier. Admission is always free, but you must be 21 or older. And come early or stay late after for some great Belgian-style food downstairs.




Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

Bears Notebook: Beginning Of The End?

Due to technical difficulties, Jim "Coach" Coffman's SportsMonday will not even appear on Tuesday this week, so let's take a brief look at the Bears-Seahawks game ourselves and look forward to the Vikings.

1. The Bears "D" Is Old.


2. Beginning Of The End For Urlacher?


3. Free Head Exam: Chicago Bears.


4. For Entertainment Purposes Only. Including Gambling.

"Minnesota is 3-1-1 against the spread in their last five home games, 4-13-3 against the spread against a team with a winning record, and 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games against NFC teams," SportsChatPlace notes.

"Chicago is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games overall, 1-4 against the spread against the NFC, and 0-5 against the spread in their last five games after allowing over 350 yards. Chicago has covered in the last six meetings of these two."


5. Take The Under?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

Area Woman On Intervention

Sandi from North Aurora was featured on the gut-wrenching Intervention on Monday night. Her daughter works as an anesthetist on Michigan Avenue.

The show description:

"Sandi, 64, is a vivacious, spunky and fun grandmother who loves gardening. But as her drinking escalates throughout the day, Sandi turns her gin-fueled anger on her 88-year-old mother and her 45-year-old daughter, alienating everyone in her wake. Can Sandi finally make peace with her estranged family and get the help she so desperately needs before it's too late?"

You can watch the full episode here.

Here's a web-only bonus scene.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: The Chicago Loopers And A Super Rare Bass

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. The Chicago Loopers.

"Clorinda" featuring Bix Beiderbecke. From The Jazz Age Volume 4.


2. "Welcome To Chicago."

By DJ Emmo, Kansak Recordings.


3. 1977 Gibson RD Standard Bass Natural Finish.

Marc plays one of our favorite Gibson model basses, the RD Standard. This Bass screams rock n' roll! They're super rare and among the most unique body shapes Gibson's ever produced. Enjoy watching and listening to the incredible clarity and low-end punch that the RD Standard delivers.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

A post in Politics on the R.J. Vanecko indictment is on the way. In the meantime, let's catch up with the rest of the news.

1. Rich Miller on his Capitol Fax Blog reports that Dick Durbin is in good shape according to a poll showing he has a 51% approval rating, but isn't that not so great considering he's the No. 2 person in all of the U.S. Senate and that a below-50% rating is within the (4.4%) margin of error?

I haven't heretofore sensed any vulnerability for Durbin, but I expected a better showing for such a known quantity.


In 2010, Nate Silver wrote in the New York Times that Incumbents Polling Below 50 Percent Often Win Re-Election Despite Conventional Wisdom.

But his debunking was less true for U.S. Senate races.

How many [Senate] candidates who met this definition - leading in the polls, but with less than 50 percent of the vote - were upended in their re-election bid?

Actually, the percentage is pretty high. Of 25 such candidates, 9 of them lost, or 36 percent:

So far, things look pretty good for the 'magic number' theory: more than one in three of these Senate incumbents lost, in spite of holding the polling lead.

Just sayin'.

2. "The federal tax evasion trial of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers has been delayed until the end of January because one of his attorneys is ill, a judge decided today," the Tribune reports.

"Beavers' legal team had asked for opening statements to be delayed until Monday because attorney Victor Henderson is suffering from acute bronchitis."

Judge James Zagel, however, feared a short delay might push the trial's end too close to Christmas, when jurors might be distracted. It also isn't clear just when Henderson will be better.


"Though Beavers had five attorneys to defend him in court, Henderson is the team's tax expert," the Trib notes.


"The delay, however, will allow Beavers' attorney, [Sam] Adam Jr., to more fully explore his run for the 2nd district congressional seat recently vacated by the embattled Jesse Jackson Jr., who is himself under investigation for alleged campaign fraud."

Okay, now I want to see a doctor's note.

"Asked by reporters about his potential run, Adam said he said he will now be able to spend the next 10 days exploring the idea with his family and by speaking to residents of the district."

Motion to reconsider, judge?

3. A common denominator in the cases against Beavers and LaShawn Ford? Gambling at the Horseshoe in Hammond.

"It wasn't just a couple of trips to the casino," a federal prosecutor said. "[Beavers] lost a lot of money. It happened frequently."


"[Ford] was indicted . . . on federal charges that he lied to a bank to get a $500,000 extension on a line of credit and used the cash to cover car loans, credit cards, mortgages, campaign costs and payments to a Hammond casino," the Tribune reported.


Rahm: A Chicago casino would keep that money at home.

4. "'After months of trying to obtain the data from the meter company, we finally have it and were able to determine what we suspected all along: that the parking-meter company bills are off 85 cents on the dollar - or $22 million more than they billed' for out-of-service meters, says [Rahm] Emanuel," the Sun-Times reports.

No problem, Rahm. You can contest that by mail or request an in-person hearing.


"A Chicago Parking Meters spokeswoman declined to comment."

Or was it a park district board member who declined comment?

5. "Only 44 percent of CTA riders say they own a car, despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel's suggestion last week that they have a 'choice' of whether to take public transit or drive," the Tribune reports.

The more relevant question, though, is how many riders who buy 7-day and 30-day passes own a car, and what data Rahm was referring to that the CTA used to arrive at its fare increases.

6. Beginning Of The End For The Bears?

Defense gets old before our eyes. Team can't win unless they get turnovers. Cutler-Marshall is the entire offense - one of the worst in the league. And yet, each of their remaining games (Vikings, Packers, Cardinals, Lions) is winnable.

7. The Streets Under The Streets Are Back.

But has Lower Wacker Drive been gentrified?

8. Sandi From North Aurora.

On Intervention.

9. Tuesday Funk #52.

An evening of literature and beer with a former Beachwood White Sox correspondent.

10. The Chicago Loopers And A Super Rare Bass.

Welcome to Chicago.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Roll the bones.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:07 AM | Permalink

December 3, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

The Papers needs a day off but will return on Tuesday.


* The Weekend In Chicago Rock:

The Stone Foxes, As I Lay Dying, Ari Hest, AWOLNATION, Break Science, Alabama Shakes, Ray LaMontagne, The Coup, Hellyeah, In Flames, Japanther and Mike Cooley.

* The [UPDATED] Political Odds:

Guess what? The presumptive frontrunners are women: Debbie Halvorson, Toi Hutchinson and Robin Kelly.

The other side of the gender ledger is less impressive: Anthony Beale, Napoleon Harris and Donne Trotter.

Mel Reynolds? Probably not a good year to have a crime against a young girl on your record, much less bank fraud.

* QT: Die Hard With A Lethal Weapon.

Ho, ho, ho.

* SportsMonday: Jim "Coach" Coffman will break down the broken Bears later this morning on Tuesday next week.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Busted flat in Baton Rouge.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:13 AM | Permalink

The Streets Under The Streets Are Back

When I was a kid growing up in suburban Minneapolis, my parents would sometimes take me and my brother to Chicago for a weekend in the summer. My father had an uncle who lived here and used to work in the cab business; he knew how Chicago worked. Later he married well and moved to a pricey condo in Water Tower Place. We would do the museums and restaurants and so on, blah blah blah. But my favorite thing about Chicago was what I called "the streets under the streets." I always asked for one more drive on these subterranean marvels. It was just the coolest thing ever. (Memo to David Daskal: You don't have to live here to get it; quite the opposite. Native Chicagoans are much more nonchalant about the lower drives.)

Well, the city announced last Friday that the streets under the streets were back - open for driving after a lengthy reconstruction project. Let's take a look.

1. The New Lower Wacker Drive.


2. "This reconnects the fiber of the city."

3. Brighter, Cleaner, But Less Cinematic?

4. Did They Ruin It?

"Many drivers familiar who remember the dark, dank and dirty, Lower Wacker, may not recognize it any longer," the Expired Meter reports.

"It was tough to navigate," said [city transportation commissioner Gabe] Klein about the Lower Wacker of the past. "Someone told me once when they drove down a ramp onto Lower Wacker they said they would 'close your eyes, hit the gas and hope for the best'."

"I'm a believer especially in Lower Wacker Drive," said [Gov. Pat] Quinn. "It helps decrease pollution, decreases congestion - it's the 8th Wonder of the World - Lower Wacker Drive."

Well, Klein would probably prefer to turn it into a bike lane. And Quinn, well, has the Land of Lincoln ever had a more hyperbolic governor?

5. From Another 5-Star Yelp Review.

I love love love you lower wacker. Your fun to just crank the tunes up and start jamming as you make loops and turns.

Via Barbara Brotman's Lower Wacker, A Rite Of Initiation For The Brave.

6. The Old Lower Wacker Drive.


7. The Blues Brothers: This Must Be Lower Wacker Drive.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Stone Foxes at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


2. As I Lay Dying at the Congress on Sunday night.


3. Ari Hest at Schubas on Saturday night.


4. Awolnation at the Aragon on Saturday night.


5. Break Science at House of Blues on Saturday night.


6. Alabama Shakes at the Chicago Theatre on Sunday night.


7. Ray LaMontagne at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.


8. The Coup at the Mayne Stage on Friday night.


9. Hellyeah at the Congress on Friday night.


10. In Flames at the Congress on Friday night.


11. Japanther at the Mayne Stage on Friday night.


12. Mike Cooley at the Hideout on Thursday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

QT: Different Desecrations For Different Folks

News Headline: "Woman hangs flag upside down to protest Obama victory."
News Headline: "Indonesian Muslim protestors burn U.S. flag."
The two stories seemed to go together, for some reason.


News Headline: "Obama presents fiscal plan, McConnell bursts into laughter."
A missed chance.
If President Obama had come back with a spit-take, the bit would have been complete.


News Headline: "The national debt crisis: Can America survive?"
News Headline: "U.S. budget deficit crisis ahead."
+ The national debt as percent of GDP is lower than it was in 1946.
+ The annual deficit has fallen faster since 2009 than in any four-year period since World War II.
Add crises to the list of things that aren't what they used to be.


Comcast's 2012 "Holiday Films" list includes Die Hard with a Vengeance and Lethal Weapon.
Ho, Ho, Ho!


News Headline: "Wis. Gov. Scott Walker confident he's clear in probe."
News Headline: "Judge says investigation involving Walker still open."
News Headline: "Another Walker aide pleads guilty."
If this ends badly for the governor, rest assured, you won't see any unseemly schadenfreude from QT.
Used it all up last month.


News Headline: "China's Xi a regular guy."
Paul Shubin, a Montreal reader, reminds us that "Xi" is pronounced "She," as long as we are on the subject of regular guys.


News Headline: "China's Xi enjoys honeymoon with investors."
This is becoming complicated.


Beverly Feldt, a Homewood reader, wants to know when did a television show became a "television event," and when can we have television shows back?
And when did a rerun become an "encore presentation," and when can we have reruns back?
And. . . .


News Headline: "Pentagon plans massive expansion of spy network."
News Headline: "Pentagon to send hundreds of additional spies overseas."
News Headline: "Agency gets $100 million to begin program."
News Headline: "Pentagon spy service to rival CIA."
Except in matters of secrecy, evidently.


News Item: ". . . a range of new disorders, including some that describe thought patterns and behaviors that have long been considered mere quirks or examples of eccentric behavior. . . hoarding disorder. . . olfactory reference syndrome. . . ."
When you see the phrase "new disorders" in a news story, replace it with "new ways to drum up a little therapy business."
You will have a better sense of the story.


News Item: Pregnant woman dressed only in a bra and panties runs through hotel in Port St. Lucie, Fla., setting off fire alarms.
Witnesses said the woman was dressed only in a bra and panties because she was trying to give police the slip.


News Headline: "Parent fury as school Nativity play is replaced by play about crime caper."
The school said it has nothing against Christmas.
It just wanted to try something different.
An idea: Why not combine the two plays and satisfy everyone?
Nice manger you have there. . . . Hate to see anything happen to it. . . .
Or maybe not.


News Headline: "Yule be back in recession by Christmas, experts warn Britain."
Ho, Ho, Ho!


From the QT Archive of Knowledge:
+ Earth lost 4.57 million square miles of Arctic ice cover from March to September.
+ The area of the United States is 3.79 million square miles.


Today's Birthdays: Illinois, 194; Alka-Seltzer, 81.


QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language:
News Item: ". . . Christmas songs are full of outdated words like. . . 'bough,' 'yore,' 'merry'. . . ."
C'mon. Times change. How many words do you need to know to change a status or send a tweet?
The reindeer's name is Donder, by the way, not Donner.

Write to QT at
Visit QT at
QT appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Posted by Zay N. Smith at 6:00 AM | Permalink

December 1, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

The forecast this weekend? Sunny with a high of cynicism.

Market Update
When it comes to closing gaping budgetary gaps, you can take your pick: one giant looming fiscal cliff or lots of little, individual fiscal cliffs.

We're being reductive here, of course. Around these parts, we're positively spoiled for choice. Most of the alternatives aren't particularly inspiring, but still . . .

Don't worry if you can't decide. Give it enough time and someone will make the choice for you.

Not happy with any of these choices? Relax. You could always just drive.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Plus one.


The College Football Report: Will not appear this week, but The College Football Report Free Range Chicken sends word that he likes Boise State, Alabama, Kansas State and the Over in the Wisconsin-Nebraska game. The full College Football Report will return next week.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Divine Fits, the duo of Spoon's Britt Daniel and Handsome Furs' Dan Boeckner, pay a visit to the Sound Opinions studios. And later in the show, Rihanna's making news again, but how's the music? Jim and Greg review the queen of pop's ubiquitous new album, Unapologetic."


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Two ways to enjoy the Saucer this weekend! First, the Saucer will once again be the featured food vendor at the Renegade Craft Fair at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. Second, this:


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

Perspectivas Latinas: Chicago Community & Workers Rights


Magdalena Melendez relates how Chicago Community & Workers Rights organizes educational activities and promotes leadership in defense of workers' rights.

Saturday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min.


Liberal Arts & Science Dean's Lecture at Columbia College: "Performance Narrative in Storytelling"


Deaf performing artist Peter Cook shares how storytellers can speak volumes - even without saying a single word.

Sunday, December 2 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


An Interview with an Extraordinary Activist: Consuelo Morales


Activist Consuelo Morales shares her work defending victims of human rights violations by documenting abuses committed by both cartels and security forces in Mexico.

Sunday, December 2 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr. 30 min.


New Study Reveals Difficult Conditions for Domestic Workers


The Center for Urban and Economic Development at the University of Illinois releases a report on how many nannies, caregivers, and housecleaners are subject to low wages and dangerous working conditions.

Watch Online

Sunday, December 2 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:29 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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