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May 31, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

We're not sure, but it looks like terrorist wing-nut Rachel Ray may in fact be the model for that slutty new Starbuck's logo. We'll be pounding the pavement to find answers for you this weekend.

Market Update
Paranoia futures surged to an all-time high this week after numerous revelations of long-ranging schemes, deliberate delays and flat-out lies proved once and for all that they really are out to fucking get us.

Delegate Operations
The cold war between Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama rages on this weekend as the greater DNC brain trust continues to wrestle with the question of delegates. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid are said to be losing patience with the whole affair. Sources close to the two congressional giants say they are confused as to why Clinton and Obama don't simply morph into one another as they have.

Triumvirate Tests
Hoping not to be out-done by last week's unusually strong showing from her sinister sisters, Britney Spears fired off a few missiles of her own. The tactic was nullified, however, when her own lawyer revealed she has no long-range capability whatsoever.

To The Rezko
Lawyers for embattled political fixer Tony Rezko will no doubt spend their weekend fighting his latest potential arrest. Sources close to the team say they will argue Rezko's whopping $450,000 gambling bet is actually an attempt to get in on the ground floor of Charles Barkley's potential 2010 run for Alabama governor. So, you know, that's been covered.

And Finally...
We've started summer hours here at the Weekend Desk, so this week we're going to let you finish the Report. Enjoy!

Posted by Natasha at 07:56 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

All I need to know about the Sex and the City movie I learned from Roger Ebert this morning: Carrie and Mr. Big buy a penthouse they name "Heaven on Fifth Avenue."

Check, please!

Dream Weaver
"More than half of U.S. workers say the American dream of owning a nice home, having financial security and hope for the future is unattainable, and almost half blame the political system, according to a new poll by Zogby International."

Doprah
"I've tried to stay out of politics for my entire tenure on the air," she said. "Basically, it's a no-win situation."

I mean, if Oprah actually used her celebrity status to lobby for health insurance and higher wages for the poor, they might not find a reason to follow her New Age nostrums anymore.

Pfleger Flap
Barack Obama responded to his latest preacher problem on Thursday by claiming that he barely even knew Michael Pfleger and has never been present when he's made politically inconvenient comments. The Pfleger he's known for 20 years, he said, was never one to shoot his mouth off.

The Daley Show
I think everyone's missing the point about Mayor Richard M. Daley speaking at Northwestern's commencement. Does NU president Henry Bienen believe that Daley is a good role model for ethical public service?

*

Alton Logan would have been a more inspired choice.

Tony's Take
"Rezko allegedly accumulated $450,000 in debts to Caesars Palace and Bally's Hotel Casino between March and July 2006," the Sun-Times reports. "He passed nine bad checks and got hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash or gaming chips in return."

RezkoWatch has the details, including this bit of unfortunate timing:

"A warrant was issued for Rezko's arrest on May 20, 2008, and federal authorities were notified about the outstanding warrant a week later, on Tuesday, May 27, 2008. The criminal complaint was filed on May 13, 2008, "with two counts of fraud stemming from $250,000 in gambling debts at Caesars Palace and $200,000 in markers at Bally's."

By a strange coincidence, U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) - to whom Rezko has been a long-term friend, personal real estate fairy, and political benefactor - returned to Las Vegas on May 27, 2008, to 'shore up his weaknesses in Nevada, which is in the heart of a must-win region if he is to take the presidency in November,' J. Patrick Coolican reported in the Las Vegas Sun. "

Currency Exchange
"In a Tribune story a year ago, Obama defended special budget earmarks for his district while he was a state legislator, including ones that went to programs associated with Pfleger's church.

"Pfleger gave Obama's campaigns $1,500 between 1995 and 2001, including $200 in April 2001, about three months after Obama announced at least $100,000 in grants to St. Sabina programs."

SOS
The Chicago cop who wore a wire to build a case against his colleagues in the now-disbanded Special Operations Section is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday.

I wonder if he's available for commencement speeches.

Cable Guys
"Hackers Alter Comcast Homepage."

Trick customers into thinking they are required to be home today from 1 p.m to 4 p.m. to receive repair service.

Appreciation
Chicagoist remembers Harvey Korman.

A Little Cute
"CHARLESTON, S.C. - The wife of entertainer Bill Murray has filed for divorce after nearly 11 years of marriage, alleging he abused her and is addicted to marijuana and
alcohol."

She can't go! All the plants are gonna die!

- Tim Willette

Teach The Children's Museum Well
You on the museum board
There is a law that you must live by
So please think for yourself
Because Grant Park is not a good buy.

See the rest!

Rolling Phat
This commercial grated on me at first, but now I'm a fan. The lyrics are really good, especially when his posse's getting laughed at instead of looking fly and rolling phat. See more in my new TV Notes column.

What Happened
"Mr. McClellan does not exempt himself from failings - 'I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be' - and calls the news media 'complicit enablers' in the White House's 'carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval' in the march to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003."

Maybe the same voices who were pointing this out back then should gain some measure of credibility today instead of us having to listen to the same crappy pundits who are always wrong about everything.

Then again, it's not just pundits. It's reporters. Er, well, Katie Couric & Co. But reporters too.

"Speaking on The Early Show on CBS, Ms. Couric said the lack of skepticism shown by journalists about the Bush administration's case for war amounted to 'one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism,'" the New York Times reports. "She also said she sensed pressure from 'the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of it.' At the time, Ms. Couric was a host of Today on NBC.

"Another broadcast journalist also weighed in. Jessica Yellin, who worked for MSNBC in 2003 and now reports for CNN, said on Wednesday that journalists had been 'under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation.'

"On Thursday, she clarified her comments in a blog post, writing that her producers at MSNBC had wanted their coverage to reflect the patriotic mood of the country."

Beachwood Gift Guide
Family Guy Pint Glasses.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Giggity.


Posted by Lou at 09:32 AM | Permalink

Teach The Children's Museum Well

New song parodies have just arrived. With apologies to Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young & Mitchell.

*

Teach Your Children
You on the museum board
There is a law that you must live by
So please think for yourself
Because Grant Park is not a good buy.

Teach your children well,
This PR hell will slowly go by,
And keep them from Daley's schemes
The place he picked, the one that makes us all cry

Don't you ever ask him why, if he told you, you would cry,
So just look at him sigh and know he won't budge

And you, in the other wards,
Must know the fears that Grant Park won't last
And so please help them with your voice,
All seek the truth before the votes cast.

Teach your neighbors well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And tell them of his schemes
The place he picked, the one makes us all cry

Don't you ever ask him why, if he told you, you would cry,
So just look at him and sigh and know he won't budge

*

Big Yellow Taxi
They paved Grant Park
And put up a parking lot
With a kid's museum, a boutique
and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved Grant Park
And put up a Children's Museum

They took all the trees
And put them in the kid's museum
And they charged all the people
nine and a half bucks just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved Grant Park
And they put up a Children's Museum

Late last night
I heard loud rum-ble-ing sounds
And a big earth mover
Took away my favorite land
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved Grant Park
And put up a Children's Museum

-

Send us yours!

-

Previously:

* Children's Museum Limericks!

Posted by Lou at 07:32 AM | Permalink

TV Notes: Henpeckers and Hysterics

Recent observations from more TV viewing than should be allowed even in a democracy.

1. Spike got bounced from Top Chef this week, and good riddance. (Lose the hats, dude.) If only he took Lisa with him. (Gossipy irony alert here.)

Ever since Dale was unfairly bounced, I've thought Richard was the favorite. But the trusty and talented chefs at Flying Saucer in Humboldt Park tell me that Stephanie is going to win.

2. This commercial grated on me at first, but now I'm a fan. The lyrics are really good, especially when his posse's getting laughed at instead of looking fly and rolling phat.

3. I saw four Lifetime movies in 24 hours this week. It happens when you work at home and you're constantly looking for mind-numbing diversions, especially with alcohol less and less of an option in my advancing years.

Anyway, I wrote down two quotes from Sex and the Single Mom:

* It's better for your heart to make a mistake than to live your life without heart.

* Just because you want something badly doesn't make it different than what it is.

But this movie had a totally unsatisfying ending; she never should have gone back to Grant Show.

The other movies I watched:

* More Sex and the Single Mom, which picks up the action three years later.

* Love Sick: Secrets of a Sex Addict, based on a true story. IMDB user comment: I expected more.

* Obsessed, in which Jenna Elfman actually gives a pretty strong performance in movie with a few nice twists. IMDB user comment: A classic!

4. I also saw Mary Louise-Parker in Vinegar Hill on CBS. Tom Skerritt was also in it.

I kept wondering what Louise-Parker was doing in this - was it originally going to be a real movie? Of course, she was totally riveting. Mmm, Mary Louise-Parker . . .

5. That Car Commercial: Innocent Sarah in wonderment in the backseat, staring up at New York City through the sunroof. She's the sweet naif of the group. Ugh.

6. Split Ends: This is a really good show. The culture transfers aren't all as obvious as ghetto-girl-goes-to-Manhattan-snob-shop, and secondarily it's a fascinating look at salons.

The one I saw this week featured Dontez, the most unlikable stylist ever. This video clip paints him in a more sympathetic picture than he deserves.

7. Len & Bob: I will never forgive anyone involved in Steve Stone losing his Cubs broadcast job, but I've started to appreciate Len & Bob. Well, I always thought Len Kasper was pretty good, though I don't need the constant reminders of his rock fan credentials or the bad puns ("They're relishing their condiments!"), but he's got a very easy voice and obvious knowledge of the game. Light years beyond the crappy Chip Caray.

It took me longer to get used to Bob Brenly, mostly because he seems to hold back from criticizing players and managers when they deserve it. He still wants a managing job, after all.

But he's not as bad as he used to be on that front - he said recently that if you threw a dart into the Cubs dugout, any player you hit could play outfield better than Alfonso Soriano - and he does have a wellspring of wisdom to impart.

8. That Other Car Commercial: Where the question is, when you turn your car on, does it return the favor.

Ugh. Just hate it.

("Okay, hold on," bettysdaddy writes. "My car doesn't have a vagina. I want to drive it, not bone it.")

9. She Redecorated Her Husband. See, no matter how much money she spent redecorating her living room - because she was so bored she had nothing else to do with her life - she couldn't quite get it right. And then she figured it out: she had to redecorate her husband!

And she did. And he became just another guy who looks like his mom dresses him.

(Obscure Craft coins the slogan "Citi: The Henpecker's Credit Card of Choice.")

10. The Real Housewives of New York City: Last night they showed outtakes. I just find these people so heinous I am compelled to watch to get a good hate on.

Here is a piece we tried writing comparing The Real Housewives of New York City to The Real Housewives of Orange County and aborted. This was as far as we could get.

NYC: Summer in the Hamptons.
OC: Summer year-round.

NYC: Want kids to go to Columbia.
OC: Want kids to go to Santa Clara Junior College.

OC: Fake boobs and plastic surgery.
NYC: Fake brains and plastic surgery.

NYC: Ivy League.
OC: Junior League.

NYC: Faux Artsy.
OC: Faux Mallsy.

NYC: Sets feminism back 100 years.
OC: Sets feminism back to the Stone Ages.

-

Comments - and contributions - welcome.

-

Previously in TV Notes:
* Top Shelf, High Life, Elf Food

Posted by Lou at 06:37 AM | Permalink

Bum Knees, Bad Air, Burial Rites

* Caring for Sports Injuries
* Indoor Air Hazards You Should Know About
* Burial Guide For Arlington National Cemetery

-

1. CARING FOR SPORTS INJURIES
If you want to dance like a star or shoot hoops like a pro, you need to be prepared for injuries. Don't take valuable time away from the dance floor or the court because you get hurt - learn how to recognize injuries and how to heal faster once they happen. Caring for Sports Injuries, a free package of brochures from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the Federal Citizen Information Center is just what you need to get yourself back in top form.

Sports injuries can hit anyone, even children.

Sprains, fractures, dislocations, shin splints - each one causes pain. And no matter whether you're young, old, male, female, often active, or exercise irregularly, you should be on the lookout for signs of an injury. Acute injuries, such as a sprain, strain, or fracture, happen suddenly: you may feel sudden pain, tenderness, swelling, or weakness. Chronic injuries stem from overuse over long periods of time. Bursitis and tendinitis are common chronic injuries.

You might feel pain, swelling, or a dull ache when you're at rest if you have one of these injuries. Learn more about the common types of injuries and how to recognize them with the Caring for Sports Injuries package.

If you are injured, take action immediately - STOP what you're doing! You have no reason to "work through" the pain, and it probably won't just "work itself out." If you have severe pain or swelling or if you can't put weight on the area, call a health professional right away. If you don't have those symptoms, use the RICE method to ease your discomfort: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You may still want to consult a health care provider at some point, however; when you do, use the Caring for Sports Injuries package to learn more about which types of doctors can treat you.

Whether you regularly pick up a racket for the school team or occasionally play backyard games with your kids, sports injuries are a possibility. Be prepared with the information in this free package, and then get back to having fun! There are three easy ways to place your order:

* Send your name and address to Caring for Sports Injuries,
Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

* Visit www.pueblo.gsa.gov/rc/n77caringforsportsinjuries.htm to place your order online or to read or print these and hundreds of other Federal publications for free.

* Call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO. That's 1 (888) 878-3256, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and ask for the Caring for Sports Injuries package.

2. INDOOR AIR HAZARDS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
As summer approaches, outdoor air quality starts to get more attention in the news. But indoor air quality affects you and your family every day. Mold, animal dander, and lead dust are familiar irritants, but air fresheners, dry cleaned clothing, and unvented gas stoves can also release compounds that can affect your health. Learn more with Indoor Air Hazards Every Homeowner Should Know About, a brochure from "Healthy Indoor Air for America's Homes," a program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. You'll get a room-by-room checklist of products to watch out for, breakdowns of common health problems associated with different pollutants, and lots of tips to minimize your exposure.

Order this free, informative brochure by sending your name and address to the Federal Citizen Information Center,Dept. 632R, Pueblo, CO 81009. Or call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO, that's 1 (888) 878-3256, and ask for Item 632R.

3. BURIAL GUIDE FOR ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
A lone bugle sounds "Taps" in solemn tones. The sun glints off clean, white headstones that dot the rolling green hills. Arlington National Cemetery is a place filled with moving images - a fitting tribute to America's men and women who served in the Armed Forces. It serves as a shrine to America's fallen, but it is also an active cemetery where an average of 28 burials take place each day. If you or a loved one are considering being buried at Arlington, you'll find the information in the Guide to Burial at Arlington National Cemetery to be very helpful.

This free brochure outlines eligibility requirements, contactinformation for officials at the cemetery, and answers to frequently asked questions. For a copy of this brochure, send your name and address to the Federal Citizen Information Center, Dept. 539P, Pueblo, CO 81009. Or call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO, that's 1 (888) 878-3256, and ask for Item 539P.

Posted by Lou at 06:01 AM | Permalink

Comcast Classic Country

In sum, Comcast's "Music Choice" channels provide a nice overview of most - not all - genres in the universe of popular (and not so much) music. This hour from the Classic Country channel illustrates how much of a primer these channels can be on each respective category. Plus, the trivia is phenomenal.

I've added some value from Wikipedia, YouTube, etc.

-

May 29, 2008
3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

-

1. He Stopped Loving Her Today/George Jones.

Indeed one of country's classic songs by one of its classic artists, this was released in 1980, though it sounds like it was made 20 or 30 years earlier.

"The song was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee at CBS Studio B," according to the song's Wikipedia entry. "The recording process was lengthy. Jones was frequently intoxicated and later said in an interview that the four spoken lines of the song had to be recorded over and over because he could not speak without slurring his words."

Jones himself wrote in his book:

"In the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time. I had drunk heavily for years and had pitched benders that might last two or three days, but in the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time for half a decade. If you saw me sober, chances are you saw me asleep. It was a five-year binge laced with occasional sickness from sobriety . . . Some folks think they're in pain if they've had one too many cocktails the night before. They have no idea how it feels to have one too many pints. It's like going through a violent food poisoning with an ax in your skull."

"The song is about a man who loved a woman so much, it killed him when she left," Jones writes in his book. "He said he would love her until he died, and only on his deathbed did he stop... [producer Billy Sherrill] said he was unable to sleep the night after first hearing the song. But he thought it was incomplete... [Songwriters Curly] Putnam and [Bobby] Braddock killed the song's main character too soon in their early versions. Billy kept telling them to kill the guy at a different time and then have the woman come to his funeral. The writers thought that might be too sad, and Billy did, too. But he knew the song, on a scale of one to 10, was about an eight. He saw it as a potential 11."

2. Roll On, Big Mama/Joe Stampley

Classic truck drivin' music that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Classic Country chart in 1975.

well, the feel of the wheel delivers me
from a life where I don't wanna be and the diesel smoke
with every stroke sings a song with a heavy note

3. The Wurlitzer Prize/Waylon Jennings

Just so sadly beautiful.

4. Real Love/Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers

A #1 country single that also reached #91 on the pop charts, this is hardly a country classic in any real sense of the term. While tuneful, it's studio gloss bespeaks the state of country circa 1985; it sounds like the lost theme song to a Dudley Moore movie.

5. I Don't Wanna Play House/Tammy Wynette

I don't wanna play house; I know it can't be fun
I've watched mommy and daddy
And if that's the way it's done
I don't wanna play house; It makes my mommy cry
'Cause when she played house
My daddy said good-bye.

This song - written by Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton - won the 1967 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Embedding has been disabled, but you can still watch what looks to be a 1967 performance of this song by a young Tammy Wynette on YouTube.

6. You Still Move Me/Dan Seals

Classic suckdom.

7. Daydreams About Night Things/Ronnie Milsap

I'm having day dreams bout night things
In the middle of the afternoon
And while my hands make a living my mind's home loving you

You can see some dude do his own cover of this song; it's not terrible.

8. Dixie On My Mind/Hank Williams Jr.

All the stations up here don't sign off with Dixie,
The way they did in sweet home Alabama,
The people here don't sip Jack Daniels whiskey,
The way they do in that Tennessee mountain land.

I've always heard lots about the big apple,
So I thought I'd come up here and see,
But all I've seen so far is one big hassle,
Wish I was camped out on the Okachovee.

Oh well. Don't need a Southern man around anyhow.

9. Orange Blossom Special/Johnny Cash

This is how you lose your New York blues, Junior.

Well, I don't care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die

10. Amos Moses/Jerry Reed

Listen to the funk!

Paging Sly Stone . . .

11. I Fall To Pieces/Patsy Cline

You want to act like we've never kissed.

12. Hard Times/Lacy J. Dalton

This piece of fluffle hit #7 on the country chart in 1981.

13. Somebody Should Leave/Reba McEntire

Somebody should leave
But we hate to give in
We just keep hopin
We might need each other again

Ugh. I'd rather one of you shot the other just to watch them die.

14. I Ain't Never/Mel Tillis

Bringin' us back home. Here's a version by the Oak Ridge Boys.

-

From the Beachwood jukebox to Marfa Public Radio, we have the playlists you need to be a better citizen of the Rock and Roll Nation.

Posted by Lou at 05:21 AM | Permalink

May 29, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

Scenes from a CTA derailment.

* "Although emergency personnel arrived within minutes, the situation was so precarious that the train operator ordered passengers in the first car, which separated from the rest of the train, to move to one side of the aisle to prevent the car from possibly tipping over and plunging to the ground," the Tribune reports.

* NBC5 photo gallery.

* AP video

This Is Your Media
The media are pigeons.

Take the coverage of Scott McClellan's new book. For less than a day it was about what McClellan revealed about a deceitful White House that blundered into an horrible, ill-conceived war, including the role of what he called the "enablers" in the media.

The story now though - on the front page of today's Tribune for example - is "Bush Team Lines Up To Blitz Tell-All Book."

(On page 22 of the Sun-Times, the headline is "Traitor or Truthteller?", a wholly false frame.)

You'd think maybe the front page headline would be "Bush Team Lied About War, Insider Says." And maybe the subhead would be "Yet another account of White House malfeasance. Impeachment?"

But the story is never about the story. It's a classic pivot. George W. Bush dodged the Vietnam War? Make the story about Dan Rather. John McCain was so close to a lobbyist even while he was decrying lobbyists on the campaign trail that top aides thought he was sleeping with her? Make the story about The New York Times. The president and his inner circle lied about the war and Valerie Plame? Make the story about the traitorous former press secretary.

Here's an idea: Require every reporter to get public relations training so they can finally familiarize themselves with at least the basics in the propagandist's toolbox.

*

I have some more thoughts on McClellan's books in "Press Secretaries."

Press Secretaries
"WHO SENT THE DOGS OUT! Obama's campaign - channeling Murdoch - told the dogs to bark."

Examine the facts, people.

This is just how the Obama campaign played the race card in South Carolina. Despite Obama's soothing rhetoric, it was his campaign that pushed out the Clinton remarks and privately stoked up reporters by feigning outrage.

"The truth about what Clinton said - and any fair-minded appraisal of what she meant - was entirely beside the point," writes John Harris in a fairly stunning piece at Politico.

The old Scott McClellan would be at home in the Obama campaign.

For another example, just look at how Obama has been recalibrating his position on meeting with foreign dictators.

All I can say is, I told you so.

All of which goes a long way toward explaining why this is the most cynical campaign I've ever seen; exploiting race and RFK's assassination more deftly than Lee Atwater could have ever imagined.

Local Draw
If only Jackie Heard would have a fit of conscience and write a memoir about the inside of the Daley Administration.

Purple Punks
I would be a lot happier that some Northwestern students are upset that Daley is giving the commencement speech this year if it was because he's a corrupt bully rather than the idea that they deserve a bigger celebrity because they paid so much to attend such a prissy school. With such a prissy president.

That's Stella!
It's a tough call, but I think my favorite part of today's gem by Stella Foster is when Cardinal George tells her he reads her column whenever he can.

Today's Worst Person In Chicago
"Adua Asaro, 27, of Huntley will dress like Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, when she sees the Sex and the City movie."

Suddenly, A New Contestant
According to the Tribune, Pops For Champagne is "so Charlotte."

Make it stop.

Kill Me Now
"IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES: Where to buy affordable shoes Carrie would wear."

KILL ME NOW
"Plan A Girls' Night Out - SATC Style."

Is It Over Yet?
Hardly. But that's as much as I can take today. I think I'll start cutting.

Lucky Stiff
Who is Jeffrey Duerwachter, and how did he make $413,000 in one day?

Channel Changers
"[A] consortium of Illinois nonprofits, governments and public access television stations are warning of a new delivery system from AT&T they believe treats public, educational and government programming unequally," Kristen McQueary writes.

"If your town recently offered you the chance to switch to AT&T, you may have noticed public access channels were moved to Channel 99. Rather than being able to channel surf, as Comcast digital cable customers can, AT&T created a feature that resembles "On Demand" for public access television viewing. Once you get to Channel 99, you have to navigate a few screens and wait for programs to download before being able to view them.

"Critics of the new system say it violates the very law AT&T helped write and pass in the General Assembly last year.

"'AT&T apparently believes game shows and sitcoms deserve good quality and speedy delivery but not for civic information and emergency alerts, which are being sidelined into an application that is not like the commercial channels,' said Barbara Popovic, of CAN-TV, who met with lawmakers Wednesday to share her concerns."

*

Disclaimer: I rent my Wicker Park apartment from Popovic.

Disclaimer: While I'm disclaiming I linked to NBC5's photo gallery in the CTA item not because I have a relationship with the station through my blog Division Street, but because I got there through this image on Chicagoist.

Disclaimer: I loathe and detest Sex and the City, and maybe I'll tell you why later today or tomorrow if I have the strength.

Disclaimer: I attended Northwestern for graduate school and it's everything you would imagine it to be.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Like an electronic hug.

Posted by Lou at 09:19 AM | Permalink

Press Secretaries

Scott McClellan's book has not really been "reviewed" yet, but in the political world it's the book-of-the-moment.

And, indeed, it's a stunner.

But what's stunning isn't so much the validation of things we already know - the war in Iraq was a blunder of historic proportions and Karl Rove lied about the Valerie Plame affair - but that the book comes from a former press secretary who stood before not only the White House press corps but the nation and endlessly repeated untruths that amounted to propaganda of the worst kind.

Not that it's shocking that untruths came from that lectern what's shocking is that McClellan has actually come clean in an apparent fit of conscience.

That's the shock.

Look at Ari Fleischer, for example, hitting the talk shows to malign McClellan as a former loyalist whose body must now be occupied by an alien.

Press secretaries know a lot, and what they don't know they don't want to know. It's too bad so many of them go to their graves with their secrets - or in the case of Ted Sorenson, endlessly burnishing the myths that do a grave injustice to the nation they purportedly serve.

Some of the early reports on the McClellan book stake its importance on the notion that this is the first such memoir from a close Bush aide, but you could practically open your own store with the number of books from insiders (Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson) and outsiders (Bob Woodward, John Dean, Kevin Phillips) that fairly paint this administration as the most incompetent, anti-intellectual, mentally unstable, religiously fanatic, authoritarian and anti-democratic bunch of yahoos in American history. Nixon may have subverted the Constitution, but he didn't rewrite it.

Only the willfully blind can proclaim this administration anything other than an unmitigated disaster.

The timing of the McClellan book is exquisite, and not because we are in the midst of a presidential campaign. The film Recount has just opened and carries with it another reminder that the media McClellan says easily manipulated and enabled the Iraq War also failed to grasp the realities of the 2000 election and what happened in Florida.

Even today, reports of the media's own consortium aided by the University of Chicago continue soft-peddle the inconvenient truth that Al Gore won Florida.

Here is an AP report that was an exception, cited by Eric Alterman:

"But buried beneath the misleading headlines was the inescapable fact that Al Gore was the genuine choice of a plurality of Florida's voters as well as America's. As the AP report put it, 'In the review of all the state's disputed ballots, Gore edged ahead under all six scenarios for counting all undervotes and overvotes statewide.' In other words, he got more votes in Florida than George Bush by almost every conceivable counting standard. Gore won under a strict-counting scenario and he won under a loose-counting scenario. He won if you count 'hanging chads' and he won if you counted 'dimpled chads.' He won if you count a dimpled chad only in the presence of another dimpled chad on the same ballot - the so-called 'Palm Beach' standard. He even won if you counted only a fully-punched chad. He won if you counted partially-filled oval on an optical scan and he won if you counted only a fully-filled optical scan. He won if you fairly counted the absentee ballots. No matter how you count it, if everyone who legally voted in Florida had had a chance to see their vote counted, Al Gore is our president."

But the Bushies controlled the narrative. Instead of Bush being asked to step aside in the interests of the nation based on both the popular vote and the obvious facts of Florida - even Pat Buchanan knew he didn't have very much support in Palm Beach County - Al Gore was asked to be the bigger man and retreat. Why? Why wasn't it the other way around? Why wasn't Bush asked to respect the will of the people? Because one side knew better than the other how to whisper the right things in reporters' ears.

In fact, it was the media's antipathy to Gore - hard to remember these days - that largely kept him out of the 2004 race.

The media has failed us at the heights of its responsibility: covering presidents (and their campaigns) and war.

Of course, there is nothing new about this. The media loves a great narrative arc with larger-than-life figures whose human touches only prove how extraordinary our (crooked) leaders are. These myths couldn't exist without aid of the press, as Seymour Hersh shows in The Dark Side of Camelot and Mark Hertsgaard shows in On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.

George H.W. Bush's heinous campaign tactics in 1988 couldn't have worked without the media's compliance. Vowing to not be fooled again, the media turned around and played the fool again buying into the fake, right-wing generated Clinton scandals thinking they were being tough.

When George W. Bush took office, the media laid off; the Democrats are caught on the wrong side of the cycle.

Not that I have sympathy for Democrats in this regard. As Bob Somerby has thoroughly shown us, Democrats and their compatriots in the press are the worst offenders, not only with their own sad narratives and weaker mimcry of the same tactics they deplore in conservatives, but with their own presidential candidate(s) extolling the lore of Kennedy and Reagan, further enshrouding our history and governance in veils of lies.

So add McClellan's book to the pile. But if you are surprised, you haven't been paying attention. If you don't think the next act of America's great political charade is being played out again right in front of your face, you're sadly mistaken, and we'll all pay the price for it.

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Comments welcome. Please use a real name if you wish to be considered for publication. Exceptions granted for those with good reason to remain anonymous.

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1. From "Jake Daniels":

"that fairly paint this administration as the most incompetent, anti-intellectual, mentally unstable, religiously fanatic, authoritarian and anti-democratic bunch of yahoos in American history. Nixon may have subverted the Constitution, but he didn't rewrite it."

That is a fantastic summation and I can only hope history judges him and his "yahoos" as such. Very well written column, I am seething as an American today as the Dunkin Donuts ridiculous cave-in to Michelle Malkin has me wondering what is wrong with this country. I fear that it will take many years to undo what Bush has done, and while the press bears some of the blame, so does the public for taking it.

Posted by Lou at 07:03 AM | Permalink

Nicknaming Rights

The performances of Carlos Quentin on the South Side and Geovany Soto on the North this season have pushed both into that rare territory for athletes where the public must take control of his nickname. Beachwood Labs has been working on this furiously and its computers have spit out the following possibilities.

1. Carlos "Zambrano" Quentin

2. Carlos "I'm No Longer Rentin'" Quentin

3. The Big Flirt

4. Carlos "Thome Is Washed Up" Quentin

5. Carlos "A Year From Now He'll Be Pumping Gas" Quentin

6. Carlos "Salinas de Gortari" Quentin

7. The Big Queasy

8. Q Block

9. Carlos "Better Than Konerko" Quentin

10. Carlos "Tarantino" Quentin

*

1. "Sammy" Soto

2. Big G

3. Geovany "Michael Barrett Is My Bitch" Soto

4. Geovany "Way Better Than Koyie Hill" Soto

5. Geo "Dio" Soto.

6. Roto Soto

7. Geovany "Thome Is Washed Up" Soto

8. Geovany "Not Your Mommy" Soto

9. G Block

10. The Big Girth

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Suggestions welcome.

Posted by Lou at 05:48 AM | Permalink

Torpedoed By Subway

Homeschoolers Banned from Contest

The sandwich chain Subway is having a contest for kids to see who can submit the best story (in writing) given four storyline premises. The contest is open to everyone, except home-schoolers.

Representatives from the Home School Legal Defense Association are available to discuss this overt act of discrimination on the part of Subway. The name of the contest is "Every Sandwich Tells a Story" and the grand prize is $5,000 worth of athletic equipment for the winning child's school.

The presumption is that the reason for the exclusion is that there would be no school for to which such students could donate the equipment. That rationale is not passing the litmus test for home-schoolers or the HSLDA.

Here is a letter sent by HSLDA President Michael Smith to Subway:

Subway Restaurant Headquarters
325 Bic Drive
Milford, CT 06461-3059

Dear Sir/Madam,

By way of introduction, I am the President of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and we represent 83,000 member families nationwide. This letter is to draw attention to your "Every Sandwich Tells a Story Contest," and the unfortunate fact that home-schoolers are not allowed to participate.

The rules clearly state: "Contest is open only to legal residents of the United States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted."

It is extremely disappointing that Subway would choose to exclude the estimated 2 million home-schooled students.

We understand that the competition is focused on traditional public and private schools because the grand prize of $5,000 of athletic equipment is designed to be used by a traditional school and not an individual family. A potential home-school winner, however, could simply donate the grand prize to a public or private school of their choice or to a home-school sports league.

Home-schooling is a thriving educational option. All the available research shows that home-schoolers are excelling academically and socially. We do not deserve to be overlooked.

We hope that you will reconsider the rules of your competition and choose to amend them to include home-schoolers.

Sincerely,
J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

Posted by Lou at 05:40 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The U.S. Supreme Court rejected former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's appeal of his federal racketeering and fraud conviction Tuesday, all but assuring the 74-year-old will serve out his 6 1/2-year federal prison sentence," AP reports.

To save time, the Court also rejected Rod Blagojevich's future appeals.

Yes, I used that line over at Division Street yesterday, but I thought it was worth repeating.

Pardon Me
Sun-Times front-page headline: "Big Jim Thompson To Bush: Let Him Go."

A) Tells president he taught Ryan everything he knows.
B) Explains he really, really needs a win.
C) To save time, asks Bush to pardon Blagojevich too.

Compounded
"The man has gone from being the governor of the state of Illinois to being a prisoner in the federal penitentiary," Thompson said. "His career is gone. His reputation is gone. His pension for the moment is gone. . . . I think everybody's interests have been served."

And the problem is what?

Bush League
"In a book due out Monday, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan offers a blistering review of the administration and concludes that his longtime boss misled the nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq," Cox News reports.

Nation would have been better served if he had just gotten a couple blowjobs instead.

The Obama Rules
"An aide to Barack Obama says the candidate misspoke on Memorial Day when he told a group of veterans that his uncle was among the American troops who liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp," the Tribune reports.

"In fact, Obama's great uncle took part in the liberation of one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald, spokesman Bill Burton said this afternoon."

Obama then declared his great uncle off-limits to media queries while surrogates tried to figure out how to blame Hillary Clinton for playing the race card.

Line Dancing
"The linchpin of the newest bribery scandal to hit the Daley administration is a member of the obscure yet ever-present and highly energetic band of City Hall characters known as 'expediters,'" the Tribune reports.

"Armed with tightly rolled blueprints and fueled by endless cups of coffee, expediters swarm the 9th floor at 121 N. LaSalle St. every business day to wade through the often arduous process of obtaining city permits for real estate developers, builders and homeowners who don't want to do it themselves."

Pro Bono Cloutis
A Cook County judge on Tuesday tossed out the conviction of a man who has already spent 14 years of a 40-year sentence for rape after DNA tests showed he did not commit the crime, the Sun-Times reports.

Jim Thompson said "I think everybody's interests have been served."

Dell Dude
"A New York judge concluded Tuesday that Dell Inc. engaged in repeated false and deceptive advertising of its promotional credit financing and warranties," AP reports.

Nation would have been better off if Dell had just gotten a few blowjobs.

Children's Choir
"I think of Ryan as guilty of all those corruption counts against him, and, most important, as the Illinois politician who squashed the investigation into the deaths of the six Willis kids, who were killed in a fiery crash by a bribe-paying, unqualified truck driver when Ryan was Illinois secretary of state," John Kass writes.

"And though I may have missed it, I don't think I ever heard Daley cry out in sympathy for those children or their parents, nor Thompson, nor Big Bill Cellini's road builders, nor Tony Pucillo's bridge repair guys, nor any of the lads who showed up at Tavern on Rush or Gibsons or Luxbar to raise a glass and bemoan the fate of poor old George."

Maybe the mayor should build a memorial to the Willis children in Grant Park instead of a Children's Museum.

The Miseducation of Stella Foster
Chicagoist adds value.

Thank You, Earle Hagen
He whistled the Andy Griffith Show theme song.

Inevitably . . .
A parrot whistling the Andy Griffith Show theme song.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Random thoughts welcome.

Posted by Lou at 08:37 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

BREAKING: "The U.S. Supreme Court rejected former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's appeal of his federal racketeering and fraud conviction Tuesday, all but assuring the 74-year-old will serve out his 6 1/2-year federal prison sentence."

And now, on to our regularly scheduled programming . . . A lot of great new stuff on the Beachwood today. Look and click ->>>

Stat Whores
"During baseball season, you'll find Jon Passman in the press box at Wrigley Field or maybe U.S. Cellular Field. In the winter, when it's hockey and basketball season, you might see him at the United Center," Eric Benderoff writes in the Tribune.

"Like any sports reporter, he goes where the action is. But Passman doesn't fret about finding the right words to lure readers into a story. He doesn't write for a newspaper, magazine or a blog.

"Yet, it's his account of a ballgame - a detailed report of every pitch thrown - that tells millions of fans all they need to know. Passman's work, refreshed every minute, is sent to mobile phones, laptops and a host of other gadgets that help a nation of need-it-now sports fans not miss a moment."

(h/t: Chicagoist)

War Memorial
"Today is Memorial Day in the United States," our very own Marilyn Ferdinand wrote at Ferdy on Films yesterday. "It's a day when we remember our dead, particularly those who have served in combat. I mean no disrespect to the war dead and their families, but it has become more than painfully obvious that dying in war is no great honor, that war is a web of insanity in which sane people often are caught. Yet, we remember our fallen combatants in a sainted glow that, in my opinion, allows society to continue to make war. This myth is just one of many we as a society collude in to perpetuate norms."

Today's Worst People In Chicago
With a nod, as always, to Keith Olbermann.

1. Former state Rep. Carol Ronen.

2. White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

3. Cook County Assessor James Houlihan.

Random Thought
Isn't it kind of fitting that the city has an Amusement Tax?

Pundit Patrol
* "Thursday's indictees slouched and stared and whispered with their criminal defense lawyers," John Kass writes. "They looked away from their families, and though cameras aren't allowed in court, I can tell you what they did not look like.

"They don't look like people who would ever think of Chicago as Camelot and magical swords handed up to reformers from the Lady of Lake Michigan. They're not national political pundits, to believe in fairy tales."

* "Inside, up on the fifth floor, R. Kelly was on trial, accused of videotaping himself having sex with a girl of 13 or 14," Mary Schmich writes. "He says that's not him on the tape. The girl says that's not her.

"But if he did do it, [Sha'Dawn] Young would understand. It's a crime with ample context.

* "All Thursday's news conference lacked was the theme music from Band of Brothers to make the point as Fitzgerald and FBI chief Robert Grant emphasized that this investigation was not only done in concert with Hoffman, but also was the first time ever that a City Hall inspector general was trusted with federal wiretaps," Carol Marin writes.

"Helllloooooo, City Hall."

* ''I was just very young and immature,'' former Chicago Bear running back Rashan Salaam tells Greg Couch, in a cautionary column aimed at Cedric Benson. ''I was only 20 years old, and 20-year-olds are not supposed to be playing professional football.

''I wasn't ready mentally. It didn't have to do with the team, the coaching, any of that. I was just young. I put myself around the wrong people.

''You know how many football players are smoking weed?'' he said, acknowledging that he was one. ''Everybody smokes weed out there. That had nothing to do with it. I was just young and immature.''

Couch writes that Curtis Enis "has been a little tougher to reach. He used to work third shift at a garage-door company in Russia, Ohio. Supposedly, he had lost all his money. But the company's human resources department said he doesn't work there anymore. Some reports say he was studying to be a cop."

* "Introducing sex education in schools was not a bright idea," Stella Foster writes. "[I]t interferes and distracts a young person from thinking about education to just thinking about doing the nasty. Self-esteem classes should be taught instead."

CeasePR
"The major problem with such mediocre social science research is that it is usually done in conjunction with an agenda and released to the media as if it is gospel," Tracy Jake Siska writes about the recent spate of CeaseFire publicity. "Suffice it to say, Eric Zorn from the Tribune and Alex Kotlowitz from Northwestern who authored an article in the New York Times Magazine swallowed deeply when it came to the findings of this Evaluation without ever questioning the methodology or the results."

Plastic Cocktail Drink Monkeys
These little plastic primates turn any ordinary cocktail into a swinging party drink.

Thank You, Mike Gravel
For your contribution.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Say what you want.

Posted by Lou at 11:01 AM | Permalink

TV Notes: Top Chef, High Life, Elf Food

Recent observations from the wonderful world of TV.

1. Top Chef: Dale got screwed.

Sure, Dale was the executive chef, but shouldn't past performance count for something? I mean, Richard survived a week in which he left scales on the fish.

I've always thought that Dale - though difficult - was the best of the bunch. But now I'm thinking Richard, despite the scales. Richard's Willy Wonka confection for the movie episode did demonstrate his ability to pull off an imaginative dish (I just saw that episode; I had been avoiding it due to the presence of Richard Roeper, ugh).

For more Top Chef commentary, this is pretty good: Blogging Top Chef: Chewing It Up and Spitting It Out!

Finally, did you know that Padma used to be married to much-older Salman Rushdie? It's true!

I wonder if it was the fatwa that she found so attractive.

2. The High Life Delivery Guy: These commercials don't quite knock it out of the park, but they do go for extra-bases.

Favorite lines:

* "Common sense, this is your wake-up call! Get your butt up!"

* "I got to smell me a hot dog or sumthin'! Let me know I'm alive!"

3. What's Your Policy? I'm still kind of flummoxed by these Liberty Mutual commercials where everybody's doing good deeds. I mean, if only. But are they trying to tell me this is the good-guy insurance company that will always do the right thing? So, um, health insurance to those who can't afford it or have pre-existing conditions? What's their policy?

Actually, they don't offer health insurance. I guess they just offer good "customer service."

These ads might be more effective as part of the Obama campaign. After all, isn't the crux of his agenda better manners?

4. Real World Hollywood: Duh. A stripper, a mental, an alcoholic, and a Southern priss who loves sex and wants to be an "entertainment reporter." It's just so transparent. And I keep watching. Damn you, MTV! Damn you to hell!

5. Elf Food: Too pat.

Plus, what's with the stump finger?

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Comments welcome. Please include a real name and a clever comment if you wish to be considered for publication.

Posted by Lou at 08:53 AM | Permalink

SportsTuesday

My wife is a big Boston sports fan. So for the sake of happy little bursts of marital bliss I have backed Beantown teams (except when they play their counterparts from Chicago, of course) since I said "I do" coming up on 11 years ago.

For a while there, the satisfaction I took from their success had almost as much to do with Boston's perennial underdog status as it did my own situation. Late in the 1990s and early in the 2000s, there was a real kinship between Boston and Chicago baseball fans in particular, but really in all sports (the Celtics had been great for a long time but they had struggled for a decade, and the Red Sox and Patriots had been championship-less for just about forever).

Beachwood Baseball:
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor
  • When the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in January of 2002 with that glorious upset of a Rams team trying to win its second in three years, I was fired up. In fact, I was more excited when Adam Vinatieri put that 48-yarder through the uprights on the final play than I had been when the Bears triumphed in 1986 (take it easy Chicago fans - were you really all that excited at the end of Super Bowl XX? The Bears had blown the game open more than an hour earlier).

    The only drama at the end of the Bears' triumph was how the carrying-the-coach-off-the-field ritual would play out, and wasn't it special when a couple dimwits decided to hoist Buddy "Delusions of Grandeur" Ryan on their shoulders at the same time Ditka was being carried off the field. It was a little bit of sports infamy.

    And then there were the Red Sox.

    Early on, while the Patriots were flooding the town headline-writers delight in calling the Hub (it fits beautifully in narrow sports section spaces) with wins, the Red Sox still couldn't get past the Yankees.

    The funniest thing about Boston fandom at that point was the belief in the existence of some sort of Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. When one team has won 26 championships and the other zero during an 80-year stretch, it simply doesn't qualify (Cardinals-Cubs isn't quite as bad - 10-0 - but it is still pretty lame).

    Both teams were good in the early '00s, however, and they engaged in some epic battles capped off by unbelievably dramatic ALCS's in 2003 and 2004. I joined in a little of the euphoria the second time around when the Red Sox pulled off that ridiculous comeback from 0-3 to finally knock off the Yanks in seven and then went on to crush the Cardinals (you had to love that) to break through in the World Series.

    ***

    I thought my Boston-backing had run out of gas when the Celtics hit this year's NBA playoffs. As far as the local connections go, well, Kevin Garnett simply doesn't qualify. The guy took what amounted to a post-graduate year at Farragut High School on the West Side before rolling straight into the NBA out of high school. He's South Carolina through-and-through, and he never really out-and-out said he wanted to come to the Bulls when his career with the Timberwolves was winding down.

    The true local hero should be Celtics coach Doc Rivers. The Proviso East graduate, who had strong runs through Marquette and the NBA, was a part of the city's storied guard line (from Cazzie Russell to Quinn Buckner to Maurice Cheeks to Isiah Thomas to Derrick Rose with many great players in between). But I still have my doubts about him as a coach. And Celtic reserve guard Tony Allen is a Crane graduate and West Side native but he has barely played in the playoffs.

    The Red Sox and Patriots and even the Celtics are also appealing by the way because the best sports columnist working in the United States today, ESPN's Bill Simmons, makes his Boston fandom a centerpiece of many of his masterpieces. Simmons broke down Rivers' failings as a coach (including one that is just about unforgivable for me - finding ways to put the blame on players when things go wrong while accepting too much glory when times are good) about a hundred times during the seasons leading up to this one.

    Rivers obviously has been better this time around, leading the Celtics to the best record in the NBA during the regular season and sheperding them through rocky but ultimately successful playoff series' against the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers. But at times the Celtics have seemed to win despite Rivers' highly uneven substitution patterns and his struggles to get his team in offensive sets that have any chance of succeeding in crunch time, especially on the road.

    The Celtics also lead the universe in woofing and chest thumps. I swear to goodness Garnett is going to stop his own heart at some point when he pounds on his chest for the 18th time after hitting a shot that, while important in a given game, probably isn't worthy of the most ostentatious celebration seen since, well, since Garnett last made a big play.

    And then there is forward Paul Pierce, who is still capable of amazingly clutch point production (the most recent example was Game 7 of Round 2, when he out-dueled LeBron), but who too frequently insists on many of the same histrionics as Garnett. And he did major damage to his rep early in the post-season. That was when he was accused of - and fined $25,000 for - flashing a gang sign at an Atlanta Hawk who had ticked him off. It was a ground-breaking bit of misbehavior on the part of a professional athlete, but despite the innovation (at least I had never heard of a star losing control in this fashion prior to this act) it was tough to take.

    ***

    But in the end, who else are you going to root for in these NBA playoffs? The Pistons? Yeah, right. I have always been a Tayshaun Prince fan (the quiet forward is longer than a praying mantis and makes about a dozen smooth-as-silk plays at both ends per game) but no matter who is in the jerseys, they still say "Pistons."

    And out in the Western Conference you have the battle of the Spurs and the Lakers. I'm not a Spurs fan for a variety of reasons (although Manu Ginobili is a great, great shooting guard despite his flopping and his having the biggest by far shnozz in the game), but first and foremost is their overrated coach.

    People, especially the ones who now call Greg Popovich the best in the business, forget how he got the job.

    Way back in the middle of last decade, Popovich was the general manager of a terrible San Antonio Spurs team. The main reason they were terrible was because star center David Robinson was out with a bad back, but still, they were terrible. Fortunately, it seemed, Robinson's back got better and he was ready to return, at least for the last month of the season. But at that point, the Spurs decided their best interests lay in tanking games and improving draft odds. So they kept Robinson on the injured list. Popovich then orchestrated a truly Machiavellian little chain of events. I don't remember the exact order of things but after hamstringing the Spurs coach, Bob Hill, by keeping his best player on the bench for a big chunk of the season, Popovich gave Hill the boot. The Spurs won the lottery, drafted center Tim Duncan, and Popovich declared himself the new coach. The Italian Prince of power would have been very proud. Ten years later, Popovich is considered an exemplary leader of men.

    On the other hand, no one can deny that Popovich is in the same position as Phil Jackson after his run with the Bulls. He won't deserve huge kudos until he proves he can get it done without Duncan, the super-duper-star who is the main reason the Spurs have won four titles. Also, I'm one of many who are simply sick of the sleepy center and crew. Just go away already.

    ***

    And then there is the heartbreak that is the Lakers. Specifically of course, Mr. Pau Gasol, who so obviously should have been a Bull. Watching him play a big role in a championship will be very difficult to take. And while Kobe wanted to be a Bull and has been amazingly good for most of this season, he mailed it in for about the first 15 games of the campaign while sulking about not having been traded and about the Lakers not having done enough in the off-season to upgrade their roster.

    Wasn't it fascinating when, because the Lakers had not made a rash move in the off-season, they were in position to steal Gasol from the dimwitted Memphis Grizzlies in the middle of the season. Star players never make good GMs.

    So go Celtics go. Make my wife happy. Just try to avoid cardiac arrest and gang warfare in the process.

    -

    Comments welcome. Please include a real name to be considered for publication.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with a deep and abiding respect for the game. Except after federal holidays, when he appears on Tuesday.

    Posted by Lou at 07:15 AM | Permalink

    Mike Gravel Ends Campaign

    Thank You
    May 26, 2008

    Dear Friends,

    We want to thank you for the support and dedication that has sustained us throughout Mike's campaign. Yesterday, Mike knew that his career in politics would either continue through November or end at the Libertarian convention. Though Mike's career in active politics is now over, we know his message does not end here.

    The message of empowering the people transcends any candidacy. It transcends any individual, but draws right from the people and their infinite well of creativity. To quote James Wilson, the wisest (and Mike's favorite) of The Founding Fathers, "All power is originally in the People and should be exercised by them in person, if that could be done with convenience, or even with little difficulty."

    The answer has been there all along. Don't look to representative government alone; look to yourselves. Promote the National Initiative, share it with others, and encourage them to sign on.

    As for Mike, he will continue to write and speak on the issues, promote the National Initiative as well as his books coming out this summer. They include The Kingmakers, co-written with Professor David Eisenbach, an analysis and polemic on corporate media and how it distorts our political dialogue, including Mike's own campaign. A Political Odyssey, co-written with Joe Lauria, is an examination of Mike's career in politics, his personal life, his fight against the Military-Industrial-Complex and the rise of U.S. imperial power. There is also The Voice of A Maverick, a compilation of Mike's speeches and writings from his presidential campaign.

    Again, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the unwavering support, and will keep you informed of Mike's efforts to bring peace, freedom, and love to our society. We salute Senator Gravel's service to our country, and eagerly look forward to what the future holds.

    The message is simple. Power to the people. Give peace a chance. It's up to us to share it.

    Our deepest thanks and gratitude,

    Jon Kraus & Skyler McKinley

    Deputy Campaign Managers
    Mike Gravel for President

    Posted by Lou at 06:17 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    I think it's totally rad that the city's two biggest newspapers have put an emphasis on blogging. After all, people, this is the future.

    Writing a blog, obviously, isn't like straight reporting: you're supposed to have interesting opinions and give keen observations. Basically, a sports blogger is supposed to write like a fan watching a game at the local tavern would talk.

    With that said, Steve Rosenbloom, top blogger for the Trib, went overboard this week.

    Rosenbloom, in the never-ending search to get people talking, insinuated that surprising Sox slugger Carlos Quentin might be making routine stops to the ol' steroids vending machine. How else could this nobody lead the league in home runs and be second in OPS!?

    Never mind that Quentin certainly didn't come out of nowhere: the former first-round draft pick never posted an OPS lower than .900 in the minors.

    Rosenbloom's post simply reeks of trying to stir up of a controversy with zero substantial facts. It's the kind of thing old school journalists always accuse bloggers of doing. But what about when the blogger has a journalism degree and works for one of the country's most prestigious newspapers?

    The bigger issue, though, follows his Quentin indictment:

    "Hold your outrage, people," Rosenbloom writes. "If this were some other AL Central player, you Sox fans would be yapping. "

    Really? Is that right Steve? For the life of me, I cannot think of one person who believes that.

    I doubt anyone looks at the hot starts by Ryan Ludwick and Nate McClouth and thinks that dude must be on steroids. Here, Rosenbloom is living in 2001: steroids obviously had a huge effect on baseball during the late 90s and early part of this decade. That doesn't mean every time a player without a slugging track record starts mashing that we have to assume their performance is artificially enhanced.

    I guess one way of getting people to talk is by almost forcing them to call you a moron. Maybe this is why the Trib only lets Rosenbloom write about poker in the newspaper.

    *

    Week in Review: Even though the Sox saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end, going 4-2 against two solid American League teams, Cleveland and Anaheim, makes the homestand a success.

    Week in Preview: At Cleveland and at Tampa Bay. You're going down this time, Sonnanstine.

    All Hail Jose: Consider this season the revenge of Jose Contreras. No Sox player was made fun of more in spring training, but Jose has been stellar so far. Last night's gem against the Angels was the best he's looked since the '05 playoffs. All he surrendered was a two-run homer to Gary Matthews Jr. After that, he was lights out.

    What's an ambassador?: The Sox Report isn't sure what a baseball ambassador does either, but we're pretty sure it involves more motorcycles and no trips to Iraq.

    Wise Decision: Uribe's hamstring injury is a blessing not in disguise. We don't expect much from Wise, but this is a great time for Alexei "The Cuban Missile" Ramirez to make an impact. Who knows, Uribe's job may not be there when he gets back.

    And suddenly, I like Nick Swisher infinitely less: Before heading to Swish's official website, remember to mute your computer. You may be asked to save a horse. Someone please buy Swisher a ticket to Lollapalooza.

    Over/Under: 140. The number of pounds The Cuban Missile weighs.

    Draft Rose: Had to throw that in there.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that anyone who would ever take part in this is a complete dork.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    Comments welcome. Please include a real name if want to be considered for publication.

    -

    Ricky O'Donnell is the proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential and a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press.

    Posted by Lou at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    Connie's Corner: The Physics Of The Dalai Lama

    The Dalai Lama/The Universe In a Single Atom
    Do you know what E=MC[2] means? Have you always wanted to? At least for bragging rights? The Dalai Lama does, and he can explain it from a non-mathematician's viewpoint.

    Really.

    The subtitle of his book is "The Convergence of Science and Spirituality." In this case, the spirituality means his deep understanding of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has spent much of his time, since being exiled from Tibet, traveling the world and meeting scientists of every political persuasion to discuss with them their theories and discoveries. Now, this is a man who grew up in a palace of too many rooms for him to ever visit, a childhood devoted to learning all the ancient writings of Buddhists from Buddha himself on down. And the story of how he became the Dalai Lama sounds like some kind of voodoo to Western minds.

    dalai_2.jpgNevertheless . . . that story goes like this: When he was four, he was found in a rural village by a group of monks who were seeking the next Tibetan leader. He was administered the test: Could he pick out certain objects owned by the former Dalai Lama, like his glasses or prayer beads, from a collection of similar objects? He did. He and his brother were taken to Lhasa to live in the Potala Palace. In his book, he reminisces about his boyhood; he often found himself looking through his telescope at children playing the street in front of the palace and envying them their freedom. But if the product of this upbringing produced the man you find in this book, we are a lucky world indeed.

    Back to physics. The Dalai Lama says, "Scientists and philosophers have to live constantly with conflicting models of reality - the Newtonian model, assuming a mechanical and predictable universe, and relativity and quantum mechanics, assuming a more chaotic universe." He proceeds to explain the connection with Buddhist thought called "the theory of emptiness" with the discoveries of modern physics about the essential reality of what we see as the world around us.

    Buddhists, he says, do not believe that "all things and events, whether material, mental or even abstract concepts like time, are devoid of objective, independent existence." In other words, we think that the material things we see, our own selves as well, are independent of all other things and persons. In reality, everything is constantly changing - shifting, if you will - so we can't really put our finger on what it is. Also, physics tells us that what we can see through a microscope changes merely because we are looking at it!

    The Dalai Lama tells us that our modern scientists have found this out through countless experiments, while Buddhists discovered these same truths through meditation. He proves this through understandable and easily followed explanations, and comes to the conclusion that we need two ways of finding the truths about reality. Each must depend on and be accountable to the other. The beauty of his writing is his ability to shed many lights on the hard-to-understand ideas of modern physics that he has absorbed through the tutoring of some of the best minds alive.

    Trust me when I say you will understand this statement when you finish this book: "Everything is nothing. Nothing is everything!" The Dalai Lama feels the understanding of the science-philosophy link is so important that he is now working to include the study of physics in all Buddhist monasteries. He says, "The earth is our only home . . . The image of a blue planet floating in deep space, glowing like the full moon on a clear night, brought home powerfully to me the recognition that we are indeed all members of a single family sharing one little house."

    The differences we cling to will not help us to preserve it.

    -

    Previously in Connie's Corner:

    * "Heavier Than Air." Nona Caspers creates a tapestry of small towns and chronicles the lives of people living there who have a hard time coming down to earth.

    * "Pale Fire." Nabokov creates a novel that doesn't seem to have coherent plot but a story that contains a do-it-yourself kit.

    * "Out Stealing Horses." A coming-of-age story that reveals a father's secret life during wartime.

    * "An American In Iceland." Answering the riddle: how many Icelanders does it take to change a light bulb?

    Posted by Don at 12:43 AM | Permalink

    The Importance Of Electing A Christian Vice President

    Outspoken conservative political activist Gary Cass claims that since there are no true Christian Presidential Candidates in either major party, it is of the utmost importance for us to elect a true Christian vice president.

    During your Talk Show interview with Gary, he explains that while Obama and Hillary say with their lips that they are Christians, with their actions they both advance non-Christian policies such as abortion and homosexuality.

    Although John McCain supports some Christian policies, he refuses to comment on his religion.

    Therefore, Christians in the United States are not being represented by the current front-runner Presidential candidates.

    VP.jpgCass is encouraging American citizens to vote for a "true" Christian Vice Presidential candidate in November. Further information at: www.TrueChristianVP.com

    According to Cass, a True Christian is . . .

    1. Someone who has been transformed or Born Again, through faith in Jesus Christ.

    2. Someone who professes the historic Christian faith as in the Apostles Creed (i.e. the Trinity, Christ's saving death, resurrection and impending return as judge of all men).

    3. Someone who advocates traditional Christian morality:

    * Supports one man / one woman marriage and opposes marital anarchy.

    * Protecting children and women from the ravages of abortion, and the infirm and the elderly from death at the hands of doctors.

    * The free exercise of religion and conscience by opposing activist judges and opposes laws that criminalize ideas, not actions, like so-called "Hate Crimes."

    ABOUT REV. DR. GARY CASS
    Gary Cass began in ministry preaching the Gospel behind the Iron Curtain and working with the persecuted church in the Soviet Union.

    For 20 years Gary served as a pastor in the San Diego area and is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America with graduate and post graduate degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary in California.

    While serving as a pastor, Gary was recognized for his leadership in the pro-life movement and for helping other Christians get elected for political office.

    A former Executive Committee Member of a major San Diego County political party, Gary also held a non-partisan elected office.

    In 2004, Dr. Cass became the Executive Director of The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy.

    Dr. Cass is the author of Gag Order and co-author of The Bible and the Black Board and has appeared in national and regional TV, radio and print media including ABC News and the Washington Post.

    Posted by Lou at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    As a fan of the Chicago National League ball club over the years, I have seen my fair share of things.

    Things like losing, hopes that are crushed, and more losing.

    But this season I am seeing something that I just don't understand. The Cubs are patient. The Cubs make pitchers work and get into other teams bullpen where the really bad pitchers are. This is no secret this year and people have been talking about it so I'm not breaking new ground here. But seriously, how did this happen so quickly? Did someone pick up each player and move a little switch in their backs from the "swings at everything" position to the "I like walks" position? Is baseball really that mental of a game that things can change that easily?

    Apparently the answer is Kosuke Fukodome. He can instill the virtues of patience at the plate by just showing up. And he doesn't even speak English.

    And what I mean by that is that it's not like he had a big sit down with everyone on the team over a few cases of Old Style tallboys and instilled the wisdom of being patient at the plate. I don't think that happened. First off, he doesn't seem like that type of guy, and second he can't really speak English!

    But apparently the Aura of Kosuke has made the team much better offensively. And I think it's great. But while he's at it there are a few other things that his Aura should help with. I mean, why the hell not. I know it's a lot to ask of an Aura but hey, we've spent a lot of blood, sweat, beers, and tears rooting for this team over the years and we want a winner. So if it's not too much trouble, Aura, go spend some time in Alfonso Soriano's head. Or at least around his glove. Also, make Carlos Zambrano not so angry but instilled with the virtues of meditation and wisdom - those are Eastern philosophies, right? And with what little free time you have left, Aura, please check in with Kerry Wood whenever he's facing his first batter - if only for the sake of that batter's health and career.

    *

    Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three in Houston and two of three in Pittsburgh before coming home to beat the Dodgers in a Memorial Day tilt. Losing on the road to division foes is an ominous trend.

    Week in Preview: Two more against the Dodgers and then the surprisingly sucky Rockies come in for four. The Cubs are in a stretch of 17 games in 17 days; they don't have a day off until July 9, so if injuries down on the farm to Sean Marshall and Rich Hill don't heal quickly, you could see a lot of Jon Lieber in the next couple of weeks.

    The Second Basemen Report: Mark DeRosa got five starts at second this week and one in right field, while Ronnie Cedeno got one start at second. Mike Fontenot also got in there for a jot. And Alfonso Soriano continued to play like the crappy ex-second basemen he is in left field. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up - except that he was counting on Soriano to play center.

    In former second basemen news, Cubs rookie second baseman, Ken Hubbs earned Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove honors in 1962. He was killed two years later when the plane he was flying crashed into an icy lake in Utah. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z remains furious for reasons we can't quite comprehend. Watch for him to go boom on the next West Coast road trip.

    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Alfonsaka is Japanese for "iron glove." Sorianaka is Japanese for "iron head."

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 70% sweet, 30% sour. Lou is one percent less sweet this week because he likes even numbers. He thinks even numbers are "real nice." And like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou expects you to be quiet while you do your homework because he'd like to watch porn and drink Falstaff in peace.

    Center Stage: Reed Johnson is the man. Just like Hendry drew it up.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Kerry Wood will hit more batters over the course of the season than any Cubs starter.

    Over/Under: Number of batters Wood will hit this season: +/- 9.

    Mount Lou: Mount Lou remains at warning level yellow. Geologists say surging lava has stabilized but warn of a shifting tectonic plates in California that could break loose in early June.

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor.

    Posted by Lou at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    May 24, 2008

    Please Help This Man!

    He deserves a response, don't you think?

    *

    Dear Beloved,

    I greet you in the name of God Almighty.

    I got your contact through prayers and painstaking efforts in my search for a reliable and God fearing person to help me carry out my last wish.

    My name is Mr. halifer kabal, from omani. Presently, I am in London where I am receiving medical care.

    Prior to my ailment, I was a merchant and business owner in Malaysia and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. I was also married with five children. My wife and five children died in a bomb blast in Iraq where there reside four years ago. Before this happened, my business and concern for making money was all I lived for. I never really cared about other values in life. But since the loss of my family, I have found a new desire to assist helpless families. I have been helping orphans in orphanage/motherless homes.

    I have also donated some money for humanitarian needs in some African countries. Only recently, I saw on television the colossal loss of properties and livelihood of people in Canberra, Australia through Water flood. I was moved with great pity and compassion that I decided to make a contribution on assisting people over there.

    Before I became ill, I kept $18,000,000 Million in a finance company. Presently, I'm in a hospital where I have been undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer.

    I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few weeks to live. It is my last wish to see this money distributed to the needy and other charity organizations. Because relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness, I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them.

    Please, I beg you in the name of God to help me collect the deposit from the finance company and distribute it accordingly. Use your judgment to distribute the money and keep 20% of it to yourself.

    Feel free to reimburse yourself when you have the money for any cost you incur during the process of collecting and distributing the money. If you are willing to help, please forward to me your

    (1) full name,
    (2) home address,
    (3) occupation,
    (4) date of birth,
    (5) telephone/fax numbers

    for easy communication and to prepare the vital documents in your name as the soul beneficiary of the funds.

    Note please reply to my private e-mail address: halifer198@gmail.com

    May God Bless you as you assist me in carrying out my last wish.

    Regards,
    halifer kabal

    Posted by Lou at 01:56 PM | Permalink

    Stanley Cup Theater 2008: The Finals

    Last in a series.

    (1) Detroit Redwings vs. (2) Pittsburgh Penguins

    First, a quick recap from the prior round:

    Detroit steamrolled past Dallas in six games and Pittsburgh blew past Philadelphia in five, setting up a clash of the titans for this year's Stanley Cup Finals. If anything came out of the brief conference final round it's the knowledge that these are the two best teams left standing.

    On to the feature presentation:

    There will be no Cinderella story this time around, just as even a match-up as anyone could ask for. The real winner here is the fan of hockey who will get to see two fast-paced teams that are exciting to watch instead of the clutch-and-grab, bore-you-to-death kind of teams. This is the first meeting of these teams in post-season play, but Detroit will be looking for their 11th Cup, while Pittsburgh is out to get their third. Detroit is as finesse as any team can be with the exception of Pittsburgh - no slouch in that department either.

    Let's take a look at how they stack up.

    * While the offenses get the headlines and limelight, it's both teams' goaltenders who have quietly pieced together the kind of playoff runs that say Conn Smythe Trophy Winner. Both Pittsburgh's Marc Andre Fleury and Detroit's Chris Osgood deserve your attention after backstopping both of their respective teams into the Finals. It's noteworthy because on two teams with explosive offenses, it's the goaltending that's been remarkable. Both goalies have shut the door on opponents and Fleury heads into the Finals with three shutouts, including his last game against Philadelphia.

    * Both teams have had young defensemen step up their games in the playoffs. Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik has excelled alongside Sergei Gonchar and will have a tough task trying to stifle Detroit's dynamic duo in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Detroit has been blessed with perhaps the greatest D-man of his generation in Nicklas Lidstrom, but it's the other Swedish blueliner, Niklas Kronwall, who has really risen to the occasion and will be asked to tangle with Pittsburgh's superhero tandem of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

    * This year's Cup also has plenty of international flair. Detroit has so many Swedish players they could field their own national team: Lidstrom, Kronwall, Zetterberg, Holstrom, Samuelsson, Lilja, and Franzen among them, while Pittsburgh boasts three Russians (Malkin, Gonchar, and Sykora), one Czech (Hossa), and a Fin (Jarrko Ruutu).

    * Detroit is the more experienced, battle-tested team. The average age of their players is almost five years greater then that of the Penguins. Pittsburgh has youth and size. Sidney Crosby is attempting to win his first Cup in only his third season, which would be faster than Wayne Gretzky (fourth year) or Mario Lemieux (seventh).

    If the Finals were a movie, this would be of the epic blockbuster variety (Indiana Jones Meets Lord Stanley?). Look for a back-and-forth series with each team winning games on the road.

    Prediction: Pens in seven.

    *

    Disagree? Let us hear it.

    *

    COMMENTS
    1. From Eric Emery:
    Only difference between the Pens and the Wings is that the Wings defensemen tend to be old and slow. Sometimes, old equals experienced and wise, but in this case, you need fresh legs to combat three lines of legitimate scoring. Pens in 6.

    *

    RESOURCES
    - Early word on Game 1 lineups.

    - Mini-documentary on the Detroit tradition of the Octopi, which, incidentally, Commissioner Gary Bettman has banned for safety reasons.

    - Bud Ice Commercial: Beware of the Penguins.

    - Everything you wanted and didn't want to know about Detroit vs. Pittsburgh.

    - Pre-Series Media Q &A with Detroit and Pittsburgh Players and Coaches.

    *

    Previously:
    - Pytel's Picks: Round One
    - Pytel's Picks: Round Two
    - Pytel's Picks: Conference Finals

    Posted by Lou at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend Desk Report

    While you're sweating it out around the barbecue this weekend, remember to pour out a little Budweiser in memory of . . . well, Budweiser.

    Market Update
    It's gotten so bad, apparently, we're now actively whoring out our natural wildlife refuges. Well, you know, more than usual.

    Only As Young As You Feel...
    Concerned that his relative decrepitude will become a campaign issue, John McCain this week released a glowing health report and had a massive tumor excised. Doctors warn, however, that despite his robust health, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate is still flat-out wrong.

    Miscount
    Incoming MacDonald's CEO Jim Skinner this week took aim at efforts to force fast food restaurants to post calorie counts on menu boards. Skinner labeled the plans "redundant and flawed" as he addressed a restaurant convention at McCormick Place. "Besides," he noted, "the calories alone won't kill you; it's the fat and the sodium that'll drop you like a rock."

    Postcards from the Triumvirate
    Just when things were starting to look up for Lindsay Lohan, her troubled relationship with mother and notorious mis-manager Dina is set to become front page news. Meanwhile, Barack Obama boasts he's not the slightest bit afraid to engage with Paris Hilton.

    Song and Dance
    Finally this week, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the pageantry, power and excitement of this weekend's premier event. We're talking, of course, about the Eurovision Song Contest. Go Sweden!

    Posted by Natasha at 08:28 AM | Permalink

    May 23, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    There will be no Papers today nor on Monday due to the long holiday, but our very own wonderful and witty Natasha Julius will be back to file The Weekend Desk Report on Saturday and I'll be posting occasionally at Division Street throughout the weekend.

    I am pleased to introduce a new feature today called Song of the Moment. Our first entry is "Iron Man".

    And don't forget, there's still one day left to International Pickle Week. Go for it.

    The [Thursday] Papers
    1. The governor advertises for a new press secretary and the smart asses weigh in. I wish I had gotten there first.

    2. Can't Dick Mell just rewrite the law for Drew Peterson?

    3. Another great lesson for the kids out there. Will the new Children's Museum have an Astroturfing exhibit?

    (UPDATE: More here . . . read the comments.)

    4. "State Senate President Emil Jones declined repeated requests from the Chicago Sun-Times for comment on how he has spent money from interest-free loans."

    Barack Obama said he could not disown Emil Jones any more than he could disown Todd Stroger.

    "A top aide would only say that some of the money was spent on gasoline."

    A) For what, Emil Air?
    B) He has a really big grill.
    C) Though he gets his electricity free from ComEd.

    5. Daley Recommended Irony.

    6. The city's superintendent of sewers "has been placed on administrative leave with pay after he was tracked to an unidentified suburban golf course when he was supposed to be on the clock at the Water Management Department's South District headquarters," the Sun-Times reports.

    His name is Winston Cole, he makes $106,115 a year, and I hear his short game is a disaster.

    7. Maybe he was working after all.

    8. Regarding Ald. Dick Mell rewriting a city ordinance to give himself amnesty for not re-registering his personal cache of weapons, Fran Spielman writes today in a straight news story with a straight face that "Daley responded by endorsing the idea without reservation - not as a favor to Mell, but to get a realistic handle on the number of guns in Chicago."

    Or perhaps the paper's editors accidentally deleted the ;) at the end of her story.

    9. "In the June issue of Playboy, media baron Rupert Murdoch was asked if print [newspapers] is dead," Stella Foster informs us today. "'No, I don't for a minute believe it's dead. It's got a great future,' he said."

    A) The remarks were first reported on Playboy's website.
    B) "On the print side we've been working against difficult publishing industry trends for three years . . . "
    C) Playboy is still around? And Stella Foster reads it?

    10. More evidence Todd Stroger doesn't have enough PR people on his staff.

    11. It's still about the math.

    12. Ald. Joe Moore on his spineless colleagues:

    "Over the years I've agreed with [Daley] on far more issues than I've disagreed with him on. I think what has changed in the last couple of years was the fact that on a couple of issues - the living wage ordinance and this ordinance, for example - my allies and I had scored some legislative victories. And that's apparently something the mayor takes very personally. And so he has been more demeaning, not just to me but to the entire City Council. And what I find shocking is that most of my colleagues just take it. They may grumble about it privately, but they do nothing to comment on it."

    13. "One of the goals of the Chicago Justice Project is to enhance public discourse on issues where an open public discussion has been lacking or on issues where the discussion requires a greater degree of factual evidence," Tracy Jake Siska writes. "Nowhere is this more needed than in the discussion to re-fund the antiviolence program Ceasefire. Gary Slutkin, the administrator of Ceasefire, has recently made a strong behind the scenes push to get his program's Illinois state funding restored.

    "Coinciding with this effort several very favorable media articles appeared in both Chicago dailies and the New York Times Magazine, as well as an extremely favorable column by Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune. All of the media coverage has either ignored the audit completed by Office of the Auditor General of Illinois or dismissed the audit's findings by attributing them to mere accounting deficiencies that could easily be corrected and should not prohibit the program from future state funding."

    This is the first of a three-part series that will provide a fuller picture of CeaseFire based on reality instead of easy cheerleading.

    14. Speaking of CeaseFire, what ever happened to Project Safe Neighborhoods? Plus, Black Slabbath.

    15. The will of the people.

    16. "Study after study suggests that a person who kicks the dog is likely to batter a spouse or child as well, and for the same reasons: power, control or anger-management issues, vented against a weaker being," the Tribune editorial pages says. "One study found that in 88 percent of homes where children were abused, pets were mistreated too. And kids who are cruel to animals are often acting out what they've learned from adults."

    Does force-feeding geese until their livers explode qualify?

    17. "How Dusty Baker Ruined The 2008 Reds Season Before It Started."

    18. Dusty deja vu all over again.

    19. "For those who still believe public transit is a low priority for Mayor Richard M. Daley, a revealing episode occurred late last month," Greg Hinz writes in Crain's.

    "On a Friday, the mayor pretty much blew off an incident that day in which hundreds of riders had to be evacuated from a stalled Blue Line subway train. But by Monday next, a red-faced Hizzoner was angrily berating the Chicago Transit Authority, demanding better performance now!!!

    "What changed? Though some speculate that one of CTA President Ron Huberman's City Hall enemies dropped the dime, a source who should know says Olympic officials phoned the mayor after his original comments to tell him such transit breakdowns would hurt Chicago's prospects to lure the 2016 Summer Games here."

    20. Former Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey, now the executive director of the Chicago Central Area Committee, has a new site up for his photography. He still blogs at Lee Bey: The Urban Observer as well.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Outside the law.

    Posted by Lou at 06:33 AM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: Iron Man

    B-side: "Electric Funeral"
    Released: October 1971
    Format: 45 RPM
    Length (Single): 3:33
    Length (Album): 5:56

    Wikipedia Excerpt: "Iron Man" is a signature song of Birmingham (United Kingdom) heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath. It was first released on their second album Paranoid (1970) and later included on their initial greatest hits compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll (1976), as well as all subsequent greatest hits compilations. Many musical acts have recorded cover versions of the song, and the song is frequently used and referenced during sporting events and in television shows and films. Trailers for the 2008 feature film Iron Man, as well as the film's closing credits, have portions of this song.

    The lyrics concern a champion of humanity who travels Time, presumably to ensure "the future of Mankind" - his original mission was to save our species. We learn that this champion unfortunately encountered a "Great Magnetic Field," turning him into steel and rendering him immobile. He has been in this state for so long that humanity has forgotten his original identity and his original mission. Rather than hailing him as a hero, the human race now regards him as an oddity, little more than an enigmatic statue from another age. The first few lines of the song are the musings of curious passersby, wondering if he's alive or dead, if he can see, if he can move, et cetera. Although the exact nature of his transformation is not elucidated, we know that Iron Man is not solid steel, but is in perhaps an organic/inorganic state, in which he can still perceive the physical world and can still think, but cannot take action. Because humanity has forgotten everything he's done for them in the past, Iron Man has grown increasingly bitter and plans his vengeance upon the ungrateful human race. Evidently, his bizarre state of suspended animation is only temporary - when Iron Man regains his freedom to move, he "kills the people he once saved" in a dreadful manner.

    The title of the song was conceived by Ozzy Osbourne; As a child Ozzy would spray paint Ironman and Ozzy Ironman everywhere he went. Geezer Butler took to writing the lyrics around the title, but was careful not to make it about the comic book character so as to avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit.

    Trivia: Sir Mix-a-Lot sampled "Iron Man" as a rap song in the late '80s on his album Swass.

    Stats:
    * #310 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
    * The #1 spot on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs in 2006.
    * Highest charts position was #52 in 1971.

    The Movie: The song is not - wink - related to the comic book character, though it's used in the closing credits of the new movie.

    Songfacts Excerpt: This is about a man who travels through time and sees the end of the world. On his way back to Earth to warn the human race, he goes through a magnetic storm and is turned to iron. Nobody believes him about the end of the world and he gets mad, taking his rage out on the human race, thus bringing about the end of the world that he saw.

    Lyrics:

    Has he lost his mind?
    Can he see or is he blind?
    Can he walk at all,
    Or if he moves will he fall?
    Is he alive or dead?
    Has he thoughts within his head?
    Well just pass him there
    Why should we even care?

    He was turned to steel
    In the great magnetic field
    Where he traveled time
    For the future of mankind

    Nobody wants him
    He just stares at the world
    Planning his vengeance
    That he will soon unfold

    Now the time is here
    For iron man to spread fear
    Vengeance from the grave
    Kills the people he once saved

    Nobody wants him
    They just turn their heads
    Nobody helps him
    Now he has his revenge

    Heavy boots of lead
    Fills his victims full of dread
    Running as fast as they can
    Iron man lives again!

    Video:

    -

    See also Invincible Iron Man #1.

    Posted by Lou at 12:41 AM | Permalink

    May 22, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    1. The governor advertises for a new press secretary and the smart asses weigh in. I wish I had gotten there first.

    2. Can't Dick Mell just rewrite the law for Drew Peterson?

    3. Another great lesson for the kids out there. Will the new Children's Museum have an Astroturfing exhibit?

    (UPDATE: More here . . . read the comments.)

    4. "State Senate President Emil Jones declined repeated requests from the Chicago Sun-Times for comment on how he has spent money from interest-free loans."

    Barack Obama said he could not disown Emil Jones any more than he could disown Todd Stroger.

    "A top aide would only say that some of the money was spent on gasoline."

    A) For what, Emil Air?
    B) He has a really big grill.
    C) Though he gets his electricity free from ComEd.

    5. Daley Recommended Irony.

    6. The city's superintendent of sewers "has been placed on administrative leave with pay after he was tracked to an unidentified suburban golf course when he was supposed to be on the clock at the Water Management Department's South District headquarters," the Sun-Times reports.

    His name is Winston Cole, he makes $106,115 a year, and I hear his short game is a disaster.

    7. Maybe he was working after all.

    8. Regarding Ald. Dick Mell rewriting a city ordinance to give himself amnesty for not re-registering his personal cache of weapons, Fran Spielman writes today in a straight news story with a straight face that "Daley responded by endorsing the idea without reservation - not as a favor to Mell, but to get a realistic handle on the number of guns in Chicago."

    Or perhaps the paper's editors accidentally deleted the ;) at the end of her story.

    9. "In the June issue of Playboy, media baron Rupert Murdoch was asked if print [newspapers] is dead," Stella Foster informs us today. "'No, I don't for a minute believe it's dead. It's got a great future,' he said."

    A) The remarks were first reported on Playboy's website.
    B) "On the print side we've been working against difficult publishing industry trends for three years . . . "
    C) Playboy is still around? And Stella Foster reads it?

    10. More evidence Todd Stroger doesn't have enough PR people on his staff.

    11. It's still about the math.

    12. Ald. Joe Moore on his spineless colleagues:

    "Over the years I've agreed with [Daley] on far more issues than I've disagreed with him on. I think what has changed in the last couple of years was the fact that on a couple of issues - the living wage ordinance and this ordinance, for example - my allies and I had scored some legislative victories. And that's apparently something the mayor takes very personally. And so he has been more demeaning, not just to me but to the entire City Council. And what I find shocking is that most of my colleagues just take it. They may grumble about it privately, but they do nothing to comment on it."

    13. "One of the goals of the Chicago Justice Project is to enhance public discourse on issues where an open public discussion has been lacking or on issues where the discussion requires a greater degree of factual evidence," Tracy Jake Siska writes. "Nowhere is this more needed than in the discussion to re-fund the antiviolence program Ceasefire. Gary Slutkin, the administrator of Ceasefire, has recently made a strong behind the scenes push to get his program's Illinois state funding restored.

    "Coinciding with this effort several very favorable media articles appeared in both Chicago dailies and the New York Times Magazine, as well as an extremely favorable column by Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune. All of the media coverage has either ignored the audit completed by Office of the Auditor General of Illinois or dismissed the audit's findings by attributing them to mere accounting deficiencies that could easily be corrected and should not prohibit the program from future state funding."

    This is the first of a three-part series that will provide a fuller picture of CeaseFire based on reality instead of easy cheerleading.

    14. Speaking of CeaseFire, what ever happened to Project Safe Neighborhoods? Plus, Black Slabbath.

    15. The will of the people.

    16. "Study after study suggests that a person who kicks the dog is likely to batter a spouse or child as well, and for the same reasons: power, control or anger-management issues, vented against a weaker being," the Tribune editorial pages says. "One study found that in 88 percent of homes where children were abused, pets were mistreated too. And kids who are cruel to animals are often acting out what they've learned from adults."

    Does force-feeding geese until their livers explode qualify?

    17. "How Dusty Baker Ruined The 2008 Reds Season Before It Started."

    18. Dusty deja vu all over again.

    19. "For those who still believe public transit is a low priority for Mayor Richard M. Daley, a revealing episode occurred late last month," Greg Hinz writes in Crain's.

    "On a Friday, the mayor pretty much blew off an incident that day in which hundreds of riders had to be evacuated from a stalled Blue Line subway train. But by Monday next, a red-faced Hizzoner was angrily berating the Chicago Transit Authority, demanding better performance now!!!

    "What changed? Though some speculate that one of CTA President Ron Huberman's City Hall enemies dropped the dime, a source who should know says Olympic officials phoned the mayor after his original comments to tell him such transit breakdowns would hurt Chicago's prospects to lure the 2016 Summer Games here."

    20. Former Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey, now the executive director of the Chicago Central Area Committee, has a new site up for his photography. He still blogs at Lee Bey: The Urban Observer as well.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Outside the law.

    Posted by Lou at 08:33 AM | Permalink

    The Periodical Table

    In a piece called "The Mystery of Violence," the Economist writes about Chicago's latest efforts to restrain what is essentially gang crime:

    "April's violence has inspired new plans, some more helpful than others. The ineffectual governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, announced on May 6th a $150m scheme for which there is no $150m. Chicago's police chief intends to make residents feel safer by sending out SWAT teams in full battle gear. More promisingly, Mr Daley wants to keep pools and parks open late and offer more teenagers summer jobs. This will help keep more children busy and out of harm. But it will have little effect on the most violent."

    Aside from noting how our governor is apparently an international laughingstock, the question remains: What will effect violence?

    "Chicago's leaders must use many tools to fight violence," the magazine says. "One is right under their noses."

    That would be Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federally-funded program under the auspices here of U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald that combines "tough gun policing, federal prosecutions and - most important, or so researchers found - meetings with former felons to deter them from returning to crime."

    PSN has been "lost in the cacophony," the Economist says.

    Part of that cacophony includes calls to return state funding to CeaseFire, which is similar to PSN in one aspect: it uses personal meetings between aggrieved gangbangers to tamp down the cycles of vengeance that so often results in innocent parties getting killed by stray bullets.

    Alex Kotlowitz wrote a cover story in the New York Times Magazine a couple weeks ago exploring CeaseFire in Chicago.

    A state audit of CeaseFire, however, was fairly devastating, as Tracy Jake Siska of Chicago Justice recounts in the first of a three-part series on the program and the media's coverage of it.

    Having had several discussions with Siska - a friend - about CeaseFire, I can tell you that his work will help complete the picture.

    Born a Rebel
    The New Yorker's excellent profile of famed Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs - the guy who "brought down Big Tobacco" but now faces his own legal problems - is also a depiction of Mississippi's incestuous, good ole boy legal community.

    For example:

    "Scruggs and his classmates at Ole Miss Law benefitted from a custom called 'diploma privilege,' under which the school's graduates were admitted to the Mississippi bar without having to pass the state exam."

    Talk about white privilege.

    "This practice (which ended in the nineteen-eighties) heightened the striking insularity of the Mississippi bar, a community of lawyers who mostly know one another, often because they were vetted by the same contracts professor during first-year law at Ole Miss. Seven of the nine justices on Mississippi's Supreme Court attended Ole Miss Law School, as did Governor Haley Barbour and both of the state's U.S. senators."

    And Scruggs's brother-in-law is Trent Lott.

    The Heaviest Typeface in the World
    From Print magazine:

    slabbath.jpg

    Depression
    The final print issue of No Depression has arrived. Buddy Miller is on the cover as the magazine's artist of the decade.

    The good news is that the magazine's proprietors plan to maintain and expand their web presence - a move long overdue that might have saved the print version, IMHO.

    One of the beauties of No Depression is that it's one of the few magazines I read in which I actually love looking at the ads; when the ads look really cool and they're about bands, concerts, new records, and labels, well, what's not to love?

    There's a lesson or two in there somewhere.

    Anyway, it's a nice, thick (144 pages) going-away with features on Billy Bragg, Old 97's, Pinetop Perkins, Blue Mountain, James McMurtry and others, including the aforementioned Miller.

    Noted
    * The media's love affair with abstinence made the Chicago Tribune Magazine's cover not long after hitting the New York Times's Sunday Magazine's cover.

    Next: Remembering when we dressed up for air travel, and whatever happened to manners?

    * "The World Bank recently announced that thirty-three countries are confronting food crises, as the prices of various staples have soared," the New Yorker notes, while the Economist says "America's food retailers should wage a tougher war on waste."

    * "What sports are doing to young women is not pretty," says The New York Times Magazine. But Fairer Science has a different view.

    Posted by Lou at 06:26 AM | Permalink

    May 21, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    In just the latest example of how the Obama campaign has controlled the delegate narrative, the Sun-Times proclaims on its front page today "Yes, He Did: Obama reaches major milestone by snagging majority of pledged delegates."

    Similarly, the Tribune - and other papers - noted the "milestone."

    But is it really a milestone?

    Earlier in the campaign, when it became apparent that neither candidate would win enough pledged delegates to reach the number needed for nomination, the Obama campaign pressed the notion that it was the Clinton campaign aiming to "take away" the nomination through superdelegates, conveniently ignoring the fact that it, too, would need superdelegates to win.

    Then the Obama campaign pressed the notion that superdelegates should vote with "the will of the people," even if its own superdelegates such as Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and, later, Bill Richardson pledged themselves to Obama even though their constituents voted for Clinton. And Obama never offered to hand over his delegate advantage places like Nevada and Texas because he actually lost the popular vote in those states to Clinton.

    Then the notion of actually deciding the nominee at the convention instead of using the convention as a politics-as-usual public relations stunt was described as too divisive, even though, say, Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan took their primary fights to the convention against sitting presidents of their own party, and Gary Hart took his fight to the convention, where superdelegates delivered for Walter Mondale, just to name a few instances from American history.

    Hell, Adlai Stevenson went to the 1952 convention without even being a candidate and came out the nominee after three rounds of votes, the first of which was won by Estes Kefauver.

    The Democratic Party can choose their nominee any way they want to; it's not like any of this is inscribed in law. Political parties are private entities with their own rules that ultimately have very little to do with the public interest or democracy.

    Delegates are not awarded on the basis of the popular vote, but on complex formulas based on congressional districts and turnout totals in past elections. The Obama campaign mastered running up delegate totals in red states largely uncontested by the Clinton campaign and winning particular districts like those in Nevada that would give it delegates disproportionate to what it could achieve in the popular vote. The Obama campaign had every right to do so, but the story was different in states Clinton competed in, despite her massive financial disadvantage. Again, that's her problem, not his, but let's see the nomination process clearly for what it is: an exercise in cynical political gamesmanship.

    And again, that's the party's business. But it ought not be the media's. Winning the majority of pledged delegates is a nice talking point that distracts the media from Obama's landslide loss in Kentucky - following losses in Pennyslvania, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Tennessee, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas and likely losses in Michigan and Florida if re-dos there weren't stymied by the hope-and-change Obama campaign - but that's what it is: an artificial talking point.

    At this juncture, due to the fanaticism of the Obama cult, I will hereby declare once again that I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter. I have written here several times that her vote to authorize the Iraq War is reason enough to reject her candidacy. But I am a supporter of the facts, and of the notion that the media's job is to deflate the spin and cut through the bullshit, not amplify it.

    In other words, just because the campaign sends Obama to Iowa to get you to write stories about how he has come "full circle" and can too win white votes doesn't mean you have to comply. Maybe a better approach is to write a story about the incredibly curious campaign ploy that put Obama in Iowa on a night when primaries where held in Oregon and Kentucky. Along the way, you might explore the notion that Iowa Democrats - even white ones - are somehow representative of anything other than an anti-democratic caucus process that Howard Dean once correctly called a sham.

    Fairy Tale
    At a lunch recently with a female Obama supporter, I mentioned sexism in the campaign's media coverage. "There hasn't been any!" she screamed. Not even a little? No!

    And when I recounted how the Obama campaign turned Bill Clinton's remark about how Obama's record on the Iraq War was a fairy tale into a racial smear - I'm still waiting for someone to explain that one to me - she said, "We want to believe in the fairy tale."

    At another lunch with several Obama supporters, none were interested in a discussion of simple, underlying objective facts that we could agree on about the campaign. "Let's look at the underlying facts," I kept pleading, regardless of who you support. But they were Democrats, they said, and they just wanted to win. That was all that mattered - even among the supposed hope-and-change cohort.

    See, I actually believe in hope and change. But when I asked why Obama's lies didn't matter as much as Clinton's, I was told "Because we like him."

    Netroots Nuttiness
    Influential Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas began this campaign skeptical of Obama, but ever since he unenthusiastically threw his lot in with Obama, he's run a scorched-earth campaign on his site against Hillary Clinton so vicious that a stable of bloggers began boycotting him.

    And what is Kos all about? Recently he said this of his man: "'Rise above politics'? His refusal to acknowledge the political reality may very well be his greatest weakness. I hope it's all an act. I can take cynical political rhetoric. I expect it. And it's not like Clinton is offering anything different in that department. But if Obama actually believes. it, then the Republicans will chew him up and spit him out."

    Kos hopes it's all an act.

    A certain number of my readers don't like it when I write about Obama. They don't mind the constant pounding of Daley, Blagojevich, Stroger. But somehow, Obama is a man apart. Maybe the cognitive dissonance is too much to take.

    But here's the central irony to that, described by a writer on another big liberal blog, MyDirectDemocracy"

    "Obama supporters who say they want unity but only breed division. I'm truly amazed at the lack of self-awareness of some Obama supporters who evangelize for their candidate by tearing down his opponent and/or her supporters. If you are an Obama supporter and you intend to bash a Hillary supporter or Hillary herself, think for a second 'What would Barack do?' If your actions betray the very rationale of the candidacy of your candidate, try selling your BS elsewhere."

    I'm exactly the kind of person who normally would get aboard the Obama Train, but when he says change is coming to America, I still can't figure out what the hell he is talking about. I would dearly love to see an African-American president. That much is true. But Obama's rhetoric strikes me as the ultimate in gentrified change. You know, the appearance of something cool and hip that is nonetheless safe and secure for middle-of-the-roaders who only want the sheen of being revolutionary, not the reality.

    And I'm pretty sure Obama isn't going to try very hard to get me health insurance. Not if it means being impolite.

    I've already seen a campaign based on changing the tone in Washington and working across the aisle. That was in 2000. It was the rationale for the campaign of George W. Bush.

    Programming Note
    I'll bring you the rest of the day's news over Division Street later today.

    Comments
    1. From Levi Stahl:

    I'm one of those people who sometimes gets irked at your hammering Obama, but I understand how it fits within your mission here to critique the way the press works.

    But I gotta say: the campaign's sophisticated approach to the amassing of pledged delegates, which you note as a sign of the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the whole process, to me suggests that Obama's the sort of leader I want. It took some serious planning and long-term thinking a year-and-a-half ago to map out the details of delegate allocations and make district-by-district plans to eke out as many as they could. Obama and his team did it, while Clinton's team, by all appearances, didn't bother. He may have been up there talking about change, but his people were doing the grunt work to make that change possible. The rules may be undemocratic (so's the Senate, for that matter), but they're the rules, and Obama's team put in the thought and the time to make them work for them.

    I see your point about the danger that Obama's sometimes airy rhetoric being a cover for a Bush-style non-entity, but this campaign's detail-oriented approach has given me a lot of hope that Obama will demonstrate the ability to push (and to hire the right people to push) his agenda through when he gets there. (And it really is a good agenda: though I disagree in points with him (gay marriage, health plan that could be better), on a host of issues, from Cuba to loose nukes, he's staking out positions far closer to mine than I'm used to seeing from the people I'm given the chance to vote for.)

    Regardless, keep up the good work. It wouldn't be any fun if I always agreed with everything you write!

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Sealed for your protection.

    Posted by Lou at 08:58 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Division Street: Two Americas

    DIVISION STREET: TWO AMERICAS

    This side the dark and hollow bound
    lies there no unexplored ground?

    1986: Ashland to Western,
    Freedom Fighter Promenade.
    Poets, musicians, crack whores and junkies,
    teachers and tradesmen smarting from the

    Clampdown, finding communion.
    Fighting to be free,
    freedom of EXPRESSION, freedom from
    OPPRESSION.

    Zakopane, Phyllis', Gold Star,
    Czar Bar, Leo's Lunchroom, Duk's Hamburgers,
    Mexican dance bars, the City's Clean Needle

    van. Se vende . . . 2006: Boutiques, wine-bars,
    banks and condos, Cliche America straining to be
    both rich and

    hip.

    Western Avenue=Division.
    Roberto Clemente inaugurates Fresh America.
    Paseo Boricua, Freedom Fighter
    Promenade, where flags of fire-born steel

    wave in perpetuity.

    Communion Street, COMMUNITY, "No Se Vende!"
    Americans claiming their singular identity, Port
    Richard as Plymouth Rock. We remain OURSELVES,
    we claim our freedom to SIGNIFY . . .

    Two Americas in tandem, one invisible wall,
    Freedom's Phoenix Rising past Freedom's glossy

    fall.

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


    Posted by Lou at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    May 20, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "The controversial Chicago Children's Museum plan for a new building in Grant Park probably will be pulled off the agenda at Tuesday's meeting of a City Council committee, the panel's chairman said Monday," the Tribune reports.

    Why?

    "[Zoning Committee Chairman Bill] Banks said aides to Richard Daley, a supporter of the museum's plan, told him that several members of the committee cannot attend the meeting on Tuesday. Three of the 14 aldermen on the committee are at a real estate convention in Las Vegas."

    You guys are making my job too easy.

    The Trib doesn't name the convention, but my guess is it's this one, though it's not hard to imagine where else our aldermen might be.

    Why are mayoral aides telling the committee chairman this? It's a city council committee, not a city department.

    Oops, I almost forgot which city I was in.

    Let's get to the politics behind this, then. It's not as if this the convention is a surprise.

    "The sense I get is that [mayoral aides] wanted more bodies," Banks said.

    In other words, when the mayor's people counted votes, they decided they might need those three missing aldermen.

    Of course, the City Hall denies this.

    "Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said taking the issue off the committee's Tuesday agenda was 'not a request on our part.'"

    So . . . are you calling Banks a liar?

    "Banks 'reached out' to [Daley aides] and expressed concern about not being able to confirm a quorum," Heard said.

    Um, last time I checked 11 of 14 equals a quorom.

    Besides, as we're reporting this week in a delicious bit of timing, that's never stopped the council before. As Ald. Toni Preckwinkle explained, if you don't ask for a quorum you magically have one.

    "Banks said the committee still plans to meet Tuesday to consider other zoning change requests that he described as routine matters."

    So there will be a quorum?

    (Apparently aldermen reserve the right to decide what matters are worthy of the quorum requirement in the law and what matters are not.)

    Meanwhile, opponents of the museum's move who took the day off work to attend the meeting get screwed. Well played, Mayor Daley.

    The Three Amigos
    The Trib didn't name the three aldermen conventioning in Las Vegas. Banks is obviously in town, so it's three of these folks: Vi Daley, Ed Burke, Latasha Thomas, Ed Smith, Ike Carothers, Carrie Austin, Rey Colon, Tom Allen, Margaret Laurino, Gene Schulter, Berny Stone, Frank Olivo, Ray Suarez.

    I hope someone FOIA's their receipts when they get home.

    That's Todd!
    Todd Stroger's office sent out this lame statement Monday afternoon:

    "Cook County Board President Todd Stroger met with Cook County Public Defender Ed Burnett today and discussed issues surrounding Mr. Burnett's employment with the County.

    "Mr. Burnett has agreed to comply with policy and legislative mandates set forth by the President's Office and the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

    "As a result, President Stroger has agreed to drop current efforts to have Mr. Burnett terminated."

    The Tribune editorial page sensibly advocates today that the Cook County Public Defender be appointed by the chief judge of the circuit court instead of the Cook County president. Maybe the chief judge should appoint the president too.

    Cop Shop
    "A Chicago police officer who is alleged to have beaten up a couple at a Niles bar this weekend has a history of threatening violence and abusing alcohol, court and police records show," the Tribune reports.

    In one incident, "Callahan arrested a bartender who refused to serve him more drinks."

    I've tried to do that too, but I didn't have a badge with me at the time.

    "The bartender sued and settled with the city for $15,000."

    And yet, the police board rebuffed efforts by former police chief Phil Cline to fire Callahan.

    Yes, folks, that's not a firing offense when you're a Chicago police officer.

    The news reports I've seen don't mention the names of the police board members who thought Callahan deserved to keep his job, but you can see who the current members are here. Drop them a line, won't you?

    Fuzzy Math
    Trib: "Oregonians Thrilled To Cast Primary Votes That Matter: State could well put Obama over the top."

    Um, no. Winning "the majority of pledged delegates" is still not enough to win the nomination. The majority of pledged delegates is only a metric as useful as any of the metrics the Clinton campaign is using in its attempts to sway the superdelegates who will ultimately decide this race.

    Just another example of how the Obama campaign has controlled the delegate narrative - and a useful way for it to use its expected win in Oregon tonight to smother the bad news out of Kentucky.

    The Obama Rules
    "Obama To GOP: Lay Off My Wife."

    Suddenly, spouses are off-limits.

    Gov. Baloneyvich
    "Gov. Blagojevich says it's 'stupid' to ask if he's concerned that he could be the next target of a political corruption investigation by federal authorities," AP reports.

    And he's right: Of course he's concerned!

    Maybe the question should have been: Have you been meeting with lawyers to plan a defense?

    In a Pickle
    I learned at my NBC5 appearance this morning that it's International Pickle Week.

    1. Power to the pickle.
    2. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, pickles are both vegetable and a fruit.
    3. Giant pickle.
    4. Prize-winning pickle.
    5. Pickle Bandito.
    6. Give out leadership pickles!
    7. Kool-Aid pickle.
    8. Evil pickle.
    9. U.S. distribution of people whose last name is Pickle.
    10. Pickle Stickle.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Mmm, pickles . . .

    Posted by Lou at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Chicago In Song: Leader of the Lame

    Today, a truly special Chicago In Song. We take a look at the signature song of an extremely popular Illinois rock artist who recently died of a tragically preventable disease - a heartfelt ode to his beloved father that is adored by millions of this musician's fans around the world.

    And we tell you why it sucks.

    Dan Fogelberg/Leader of the Band
    When you look at the late Dan Fogelberg's contribution to pop music, you could say he took the kind of soft rock pioneered by the likes of James Taylor and Bread and helped turn it into one the dominant forces of the late 1970's and early '80s. His considerable popularity was indeed formidable - his string of platinum and gold records peaked in 1981 with the double album The Innocent Age, which contains what is probably his signature song, the weepy "Leader of the Band."

    dan_fogelberg.jpgNot my cup of tea, really. In fact, I remember the time around 1981 as a real low point in rock history; in the captive land of Midwestern FM radio, back then you pretty much had a choice between Fogelberg-style soft rock and lame hair metal. It was then that I realized that radio programmers had turned into corporate money-grubbers and had betrayed me. I was lost, and in my despair wandered off to the local Minneapolis dive bars to drown my sorrows. I still thank God that happened, though, because in those bars I found bands called The Replacements and Husker Du, and a totally rocking, independent music world influenced by something called "punk," the likes of which I never heard on my radio, anyway. I was musically reborn. So thanks, Dan Fogelberg. Thanks for driving me into the arms of punk rock.

    I actually felt kind of funny writing that just now because the world has barely stopped mourning the passing of Dan Fogelberg and it's really not in good taste to speak ill of the recently dead. So I'll stop bashing him now and move on to the real reason we're here, which is his song "Leader of the Band," its reference to Chicago and his central Illinois roots.

    Dan Fogelberg died barely five months ago, on Dec. 16, at age 56, which is way, way too young. He died of prostate cancer, a very treatable disease which wasn't detected in his case until it was too far along. And really, if that isn't an illustration of why fifty-something men shouldn't gleefully submit to the rectal exam, I don't know what is. What's worse . . . a doctor with a digit up your ass or a slow, cancerous death? And don't say "cancerous death," smart ass.

    Fogelberg was born and raised in Peoria where his father, Larry Fogelberg, was a very well-known high school band director, first at Woodruff High School (from which Dan graduated) and then at Pekin Community High School. (This is the second Pekin, Ill., rock music connection I've come across. The other is Wilco's name-check of the city in their song "Kingpin" off Being There.) In the '50s Larry was also the director of Bradley University's marching band. "Leader of the Band" is dedicated to Larry, who raised Dan and his two older brothers in the cultural and geographical middle of the middle-est part of Middle America.

    No one who grows up in Central Illinois will ever deny that it's about as reflective of uniquely Midwestern culture and values as it gets. Both Peoria and Pekin were then and are now dominated by Caterpillar Corp., and so have the distinction of being geographically isolated blue-collar small cities, something that's getting pretty rare. They're company towns and, since unions have always had a big presence there, have been solidly pro-worker, pro-Democratic Party and pro-middle class values. Although there have been periods of strife between Caterpillar and the unions, it's mostly been a success story. Even now Caterpillar is doing fabulously well while most American manufacturers are dropping like flies.

    caterpillar.jpg

    In "Leader of the Band," Fogelberg talks of what it's like to feel like an alien in such a setting, where all the boys end up working in dirty, boring and stressful heavy manufacturing jobs and there's really no appreciation for creativity and sensitivity. He describes himself in the song as "an only child, alone and wild," whose biggest gift in life was the "tough love" and understanding he got from his father.

    A quiet man of music, denied a simpler fate
    He tried to be a soldier once, but his music wouldn't wait
    Earned his love through discipline, a thundering velvet hand
    His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand

    And in the song's chorus:

    The leader of the band is tired
    And his eyes are growing old
    But his blood runs through my instrument
    And his song is in my soul
    My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
    I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band

    Yikes. I'm sorry, but this song makes me remember again why the '70s were so god-awful at times. I mean, it's one thing to be young and dumb but it's entirely another to embrace soft rock and disco. I knew better, dammit! Why didn't they? Maybe I just had extremely sensitive lame-dar . . . I probably still do. It gets me in trouble sometimes. Anyway, here's the money lyric, where Dan talks of geography and fate:

    My brothers' lives were different, for they heard another call
    One went to Chicago, and the other to St. Paul
    And I'm in Colorado when I'm not in some hotel
    Living out this life I've chose and come to know as well

    According to a 1982 story I found from the Peoria Journal Star, Fogelberg's brother Mark was then a lawyer living in Evanston. His other brother, Pete, was said to be "still living in Peoria" and playing music himself. Does that mean Dan took license with his family history in order to rhyme "call" with "Paul?" In fact, Pete Fogelberg did indeed become a local musician in Peoria, so that also calls into question whether he indeed did hear a "different call." Sounds like the same musical calling to me.

    Alright, I admit that's nitpicking. I get the Chicago reference, especially since Dan Fogelberg was a pretty proud son of Illinois. But St. Paul? It could be his brother ended up here (it's where I sit as I'm writing this, actually) because he hopped on the Milwaukee Road, one of the great postwar passenger train lines, and took its sleek Hiawatha passenger rail service to Minnesota (this line is still operated by Amtrak as the Empire Builder). Chicago and St. Paul have always been connected by rail and share a long railroad legacy. In fact, another song mentions both cities, and it's about a train: the traditional standard "Wabash Cannonball." After he got a load of the deep-freeze St. Paul lifestyle, Pete probably jumped right back on the train and got on back to the comparatively balmy Peoria.

    Yes, Dan Fogelberg gets props from me for being a Midwestern bard of some repute, as well as sympathy for his untimely demise. That wasn't fair. I just wish I could get past the "dragging rock into mediocrity" part.

    *

    Comment from Lisa Phillips:

    I submit that, while lame, Dan F. was the Leader of His own Thang; certainly a product of the times.

    And perhaps there should be room in the well-rounded fan's tastes for the likes of Husker Du AND Dan Flugelhorn. Further, it is understandable how your lame-dar could get in the way at times. Such as, perhaps in getting laid. Most chicks probably like Dan. Just sayin'.

    *

    Don responds:

    Yow! That hurt. One thing I'll say for the lame-dar, though. While it indeed may have prevented me from getting laid by women who think soft rock is sexy, the upside is I never had to pretend to like Dan Fogelberg to keep a girlfriend happy. And that's a pretty crowded boat, methinks.

    *

    Comments? Write Don.

    *

    From "Cubs 'N Roses" to "The O'Hare Blues," Chicago In Song explores the myriad and fascinating ways our fair city is portrayed in popular music. Check out the whole collection.

    Posted by Don at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    Westward Ho!

    No teenage girl on the day of her prom could have kept up with my own exuberance and adrenalized glee on a recent Friday: The White Sox were coming to town.

    And they expected me to sit through work that Friday - a day whose minutes were lazier than Dali's clocks - and actually get something done. I got all of 45 solid minutes of work in that day, between baseball chat coffee breaks (killing time with my former South-Sider office buddy, both of us head-to-toe in the other team's gear) and just to keep par as the classiest mo-fo in the office, sending out office e-mails with a picture of Osama bin Laden in a Cubs turban saying, "You can't get pumped about the Sox without hating the Cubs a little in the process!"

    I was meticulous in my preparatory habits in the week leading up to the series; this would be the Sox only visit to Seattle this year and I was focused on the task at hand.

    I started preparing early in the week. I took my pinstripe jersey out of its sacred resting spot in my closet and batted off the dust. I put it in the washing machine, and upon its removal, held it up to my face and inhaled the sweet fibers of baseball before suspending it from a special plastic hanger to air dry.

    The baseball void in my soul would soon be filled. I almost didn't leave Chicago because I couldn't stand the thought of a life without the White Sox. I was markedly woebegone when faced with the reality of abandoning my Sox (as if they cared) and the lifestyle that I built around a culture of baseball in Chicago. Hell, I even miss hating the Cubs and the uneducated and abundant inarticulate arguing with their fans.

    The question of how my loyalty was so deeply embedded arose several times that weekend during the series. My fandom was largely uncontested among the surrounding game-goers, who like any good Mariners fans, couldn't really care less. That is to say, until Ichiro's name got called to bat.

    I truthfully have nothing against the little guy, other than the fact that he doesn't play for the Sox. But the hype and draw of him, for me, is reminiscent of Sammy Sosa's days on the Cubs. Except that Ichiro is a damn fine player in every aspect of the game, whereas Steroid Sammy could hit a long ball and egomaniacally call it good (not that the Cubs fans would know to expect anything more, regardless if the situation called for a home run swing).

    It is difficult explaining to folks unfamiliar with South Side Pride what it means to care deeply and passionately for a mere ballclub; especially one that has been a bunch of losers for most of your life. This ain't no Yankees ball. Sox fans (like Cubs, fans, yes) spend a great deal of time in misery. When my fandom came into question during Sunday's third and final game of the series (the one I did not attend, and the only one they lost), I tried to explain the roots of my ardor.

    I must attribute it to more than just my father's influence, though I am certain that remains the dominant reason. Without my dad printing dozens of pages of statistics that he would read among cigarettes and coffee on the weekends, and the Saturday nights spent on a blanket outside Old Comiskey listening to the game and waiting for the fireworks to explode from the scoreboard, I probably would not be nearly as interested, for my knowledge and perceptiveness of the game would be non-existent.

    Even my boyfriend, whom I dragged to one of the games this weekend, sat bewildered next to me as I rambled off players and stats and commentary as though I belonged in the press box with a microphone. I was in my element, and although the many alcoholic beverages I consumed technically assisted my physical glow, I can only promise that my soul was emanating a certain aura that he probably did not otherwise recognize.

    I may have been the only Sox fan around in the left-field bleachers that Friday night, but I made my presence known. I literally out-cheered hundreds of Mariners fans (partially because I had something to cheer about) and even managed to kick my Miller Lite onto a Mariners fan in front of me when Thome hit his line shot to right field. I was quite appalled at how put-off she acted when it was I who mourned the loss of a perfectly good and freshly cold brew. Besides, I don't believe people should attend sporting events without expecting to get a little beer spilled on them.

    After the game, I cheered my way back to the car, just as if I was mooing down the ramps at Comiskey. I started my own "Cubs suck" chant (without the bucket-drummers) and sought every Sox fan in the crowd for a high-five. People looked at me as though I was absolutely out of my gourd.

    However, my proudest moment came around the seventh inning when I began getting text messages from buddies in Chicago informing me that I was the Comcast Sports Fan of the Game on the Chicago television broadcast. When I questioned the validity of their claims, they confirmed: "They just showed you with your tongue hanging out, arms in the air." Sounded accurate.

    Needless to say, I was beyond proud of my title, as was my Sox-loving family back home. I represented the South Side fans the best way I knew how: Informed and at the top of my lungs; a little obnoxious at times, but passionate to the core. Radiating with pride from every square inch of my body, liberating a season's worth of suppressed fandom into two nights of live baseball. My spirit was renewed.

    SoxLeigh.jpg

    -

    Previously:
    * Part One: Departure
    * Part Two: Rebuff
    * Part Three: MySpace
    * Part Four: Peninsula
    * Part Five: Homeward
    * Part Six: Birds

    Posted by Lou at 12:08 AM | Permalink

    May 19, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    PROGRAMMING NOTE: I'm scheduled to appear on the NBC5 morning news at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. We'll be talking about the Kentucky and Oregon primaries, and Hillary Clinton's potential exit strategy. Please tune in!

    Beachwood Baseball
    The Cubs and White Sox are both in first place this morning. Is it gonna happen?

    No.

    * There is a streak that has lasted even longer than that championship drought we hear about every once and a while on the North Side, our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

    * Someone is missing from the White Sox' All-Star picture, our very own Ricky O'Donnell writes.

    * No troughs on the rooftops, our very own Marty Gangler writes in The Cub Factor.

    Your City Council Not At Work
    An investigation by Chicago Talks and published jointly with The Beachwood Reporter shows that the Chicago City Council's committees frequently meet without quoroms and conduct business anyway, a clear evasion of the law that could make the full council's actions subject to legal challenge.

    Similarly, our investigation found that Chicago City Council committees frequently fail to keep minutes of their meetings - and sometimes even basic information such as which members were actually in attendance.

    *

    On Sunday, Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times wrote a story about how Mayor Richard M. Daley gets his way time and time again; it was a nice laundry list of Daley the autocrat who doesn't have the patience for democracy, but the real key to Daley's tyrannical success is the way he controls the branches of government designed to be checks and balances on a mayor's power.

    Start with the council: as we all know by now, Chicago's City Council fails as an independent legislative body in almost every respect. Instead, the council is essentially another city department run by the mayor.

    A real city council would hold real committee meetings and real council meetings and act as the independent arm of government that it is supposed to be. Instead of holding hearings on Iran, it would hold hearings on the mayor's massive hiring fraud. It would hold impeachment hearings after incidents like Meigs Field midnight raid.

    A reform agenda would include limiting the mayor's ability to appoint councilmembers to fill openings, instead scheduling special elections. Another might be to create an independent inspector general's office to police the council. Stringent enforcement of open meetings and public records laws would help. And Chicago could, you know, grow a spine.

    Then there's outfits like the Chicago Plan Commission, which are handpicked by the mayor. Campaign finance reform could come to Chicago. And maybe Barack Obama's new organization could, you know, transform the local political culture. If they mean what they say. Change is possible, but it takes guts and real leadership. I look around and I don't see much of that in this ugly town.

    Cop Shop
    It's hard to fire a cop in Chicago; there is a long history of police chiefs being thwarted by the police board in their attempts to rid the department of bad cops. Gerald Callahan appears to be one of those cops. Former police chief Phil Cline tried to fire his ass two years ago. He now stands accused of attacking two people in a Niles lounge while off-duty.

    Crane Cub
    "The Cubs are inviting season-ticket holders to a series of lunches with team president Crane Kenney to solicit their feedback about issues surrounding the team, the ballpark and the neighborhood," the Sun-Times reports.

    First, how can we get rid of all the riffraff who buy tickets one game at a time?

    That's Todd!
    "Pair With Criminal Backgrounds And Brothers In Politics Now On Stroger's Payroll," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Todd's spokesman complains that critics seem to have a problem with 'anybody who we hire.'"

    Yes. Ever wonder why that is?

    Now, ex-cons shouldn't be shut out of employment. I'm all for second chances and such. But . . .

    * "Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins stood by the two hires, saying each man is extremely qualified, though he didn't respond to a request for their resumes."

    Hey, the two men didn't respond to a request for their resumes when they were hired.

    * "In 1996, [James D'Amico] pleaded guilty to making threatening phone calls in the heat of a political race. That came in the midst of a massive federal ghost-payrolling investigation at City Hall that involved his family and saw several convictions."

    Maybe someone who should be vetted with extra care before being hired into a patronage job. And someone whose hiring a government entity should be prepared to explain and defend from the get-go, especially considering his new job will pay him $127,000 a year in taxpayer money.

    * "[Myron] Colvin, meanwhile, initially said he didn't remember being arrested, despite weapons and assault charges on his record. "

    Colvin is the brother of state Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago), whom the Sun-Times identifies as Todd Stroger's best friend. He will make $56,609 as a grant writer in a "scandal-plagued" job training program.

    Iron Man
    Max Eddy joins the Beachwood today as our resident comics expert. In his first piece for us, he takes a look at Invincible Iron Man #1 in light of the blockbuster Robert Downey Jr. movie.

    Beachwood Ethics
    Our new ethics statement is here. The link will permanently reside on our left rail here on the home page and on other "house" pages. (As I write there's a little bit of a technical issue with the page, but we'll get that fixed and in the meantime, the statement is still readable.)

    Thanks to Robert Steele at the Poynter Institute for suggesting I address my concerns by posting just such a statement.

    Consumer Journalism
    Do you think the Sun-Times will include in its "How I'm Saving Money" series someone who canceled their subscription and now reads the paper for free online?

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Clip and save.

    Posted by Lou at 07:43 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    It has to be about Chicago baseball this morning doesn't it? Given the presence of both teams at the top of their respective divisions more than a month-and-a-half into the season? My son asked me Sunday morning, "When was the last time the Cubs and the White Sox were both in the playoffs in the same year?" And there it was, a streak that has lasted even longer than that championship drought we hear about every once and a while on the North Side.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor
  • I mean, sure, it's been 100 years since the Cubs won, but it's been a really long time - 102 years - since both teams made the post-season simultaneously. Of course, for the first 69 years of baseball in this century, making the post-season meant making the World Series. And there was only one Chicago versus Chicago World Series. In 1906, the "Hitless Wonder" White Sox, who won the American League pennant despite a league-low .230 team batting average, won the best-of-seven series in six games. During the regular season, the Cubs won 116 out of 154 games for a staggering .753 winning percentage. But that didn't mean a hill of beans once the World Series rolled around.

    The teams haven't found a way to succeed at the same time ever since, even in the last almost-40-years, when the post-season field doubled, and then doubled again.

    Actually, as the Trib's Phil Rogers pointed out earlier this spring, the streak that is the most troubling for the Cubs isn't the 100 years without a championship; it is 100 years without making the post-season two years in a row. Especially in this day and age, teams need multiple-season runs of better-than-average play in order to give themselves a real chance of at least once making it all the way through the crapshoot that is three rounds of playoffs. That or they have to achieve a certain level of luckiness (see the Marlins, Florida, in both 2004 and 1997). The Cardinals were lucky to squeak into the playoffs despite only 83 wins in 2006 but they were better able to compete in the pos-tseason and were more worthy champs because they had been a contending team for a while.

    The Cubs certainly don't look like they'll be venturing too far from the top of the standings as this season progresses. Somehow the Sox's lofty perch seems more precarious.

    * There was a note in the Sunday Sun-Times sports section about former Cub Luis Gonzalez - now a scrub in Florida getting playing time only because the starting Marlin outfielder is hurt - dreaming of 3,000 hits. That's "one of my goals," he said. Heading into this weekend's action, he had 2,529. If I were Luis, who will return to the bench when starter Josh Willingham returns soon from a sore back, I'd be worried about making it to 2,530. He'll get 3,000 all right, as long as you count results from the the Schaumburg Flyers, where he'll likely end up after the Marlins cut him later this year.

    * Some final words on The D'Antoni Fiasco (mostly I just wanted to write that phrase again): Do you think the new Knicks coach actually heard the theme from Jaws after his meeting with Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf right before he spurned the Bulls? You know the "duh-duh duh-duh . . . duh-duh duh-duh . . . dun dun dun dun dun dun-dun-dun." During interviews early last week, Reinsdorf noted that his three-hour meeting with D'Antoni had been only the start of what he envisioned would be an extended (involving multiple get-togethers) contract negotiation. In other words, the master negotiator was circling his prey. Reinsdorf also made it clear he would not negotiate with any coaching candidate's agent (clearly a stance that won't fly with anyone with leverage). The first meeting and the promise of more were apparently enough to scare D'Antoni into hurrying back to Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh and accepting the relatively simple contract Walsh had offered to try to turn around a New York team that seems absolutely hopeless. D'Antoni did that despite having acknowledged that the Bulls were potentially a much better choice for a host of reasons.

    The only way to salvage this coaching search now is to somehow convince Avery Johnson, who has proven he can win and win playoff series' (even if his Mavericks teams didn't win in the playoffs the past two years after making the finals the season before) to return to coaching after Dallas gave him the ax earlier this spring. That means giving Johnson a reason to get back to work despite the fact he still has a reported $12 million left on his contract with the Mavericks. The Bulls probably won't be able to do that by refusing to talk to his agent.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday. He does so out of love.

    Posted by Lou at 06:06 AM | Permalink

    Out of Order: Council Committees Evade The Law

    The shuffling of papers and the quiet murmur of small talk broke the silence of the nearly empty Chicago City Council chambers as a handful of city staffers filed in for a Traffic Control and Safety Committee meeting Dec. 5, 2007.

    Of the 14 members assigned to the committee, only three showed up that morning: committee Chairman Patrick O'Connor (40th), Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

    The trio sat at the front table facing the empty chamber's 50 seats and listened as City Clerk Miguel del Valle presented a measure aimed at curbing counterfeit city stickers. The aldermen asked a few questions, then voted to approve the measure to raise fines for counterfeiters. The knock of the gavel ended the meeting in less than 20 minutes.

    It would seem this meeting went off without a hitch.

    Except for one thing: The aldermen broke state law, experts say.

    According to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, a public body like this committee must have "a majority of a quorum," or a minimum number of members present for public business to be discussed or voted on, said Heather Kimmons, assistant public access counselor for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

    At the traffic committee meeting, for instance, five members had to be present to comply with Illinois law.

    An investigation by Chicago Talks and jointly published with The Beachwood Reporter has discovered that Chicago City Council committees violated this law at least four times over a four-month span. Investigators attended 21 committee meetings from September to mid-December 2007, recording each session, counting the aldermen present and documenting what occurred. [See also "Off The Record: Chicago Council Committees Evade The Law, Experts Say"]

    Besides the December traffic committee meeting, there weren't enough aldermen present at the Sept. 26 Ethics Committee, the Nov. 16 Human Relations Committee and the Dec. 10 Aviation Committee.

    Even more frequently, aldermen violated their own rules by meeting without a quorum, or half of the committee, as required under the City Council's Rules of Order.

    The investigation found that nearly half of the 21 committee meetings investigators documented did not have enough members present to vote under their own rules, yet they did.

    For instance, the traffic committee meeting that violated Illinois law also broke the City Council's own rules. Seven members had to be present for the meeting to be called to order, but that didn't stop the three aldermen from conducting business.

    Ald. O'Connor (40th) said no law or rule was broken because the committee didn't take a roll call to determine whether there were enough members to conduct business. Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) agreed, saying: "Unless someone calls for a quorum, the assumption is that the quorum is present."

    But Kimmons, of the attorney general's office, said one way or another, a public body must, under state law, do two things at every meeting: make sure there are enough members present for legal votes and document in writing who was there, how they voted and the details of the meeting. It is these minutes that the public should be able to view days, weeks or even years after a meeting.

    "We tell public bodies, 'If you don't have a quorum present, just dismiss because you can't take any action anyway,'" Kimmons said.

    Without a quorum, the actions taken by the committee legally never occurred, said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association, a Chicago watchdog group. Whether the committee approved a new stop sign or doled out millions of dollars in taxpayer money, without enough members present, the action can be challenged in court, he said.

    But Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for Chicago's Department of Law, said the state statute applies only to the full City Council, not to any of its 19 committees. If the committees didn't have enough members present, that's not a problem legally, she said.

    Hoyle cited three Illinois court decisions which she said upheld various pieces of legislation that had been passed despite the public bodies' violating their own rules.

    Ald. Ed Smith (28th), who chairs the Health Committee, agreed: "You can pass something without the quorum, and it's perfectly legal because anything that's passed in committee ultimately has to come to (the) City Council."

    But that's not how other city councils, school boards and county commissions throughout Illinois conduct the public's business.

    Take the Champaign County Board, which doesn't make any decisions without a quorum, said Steve Beckett, board member and chairman of the County Facilities Committee.

    "There's nothing illegal about the meeting if nobody shows up. What would be illegal is if they, in my judgment, attempted to take any actions on any items on the agenda," said Beckett, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Critics of the lax attendance at committee meetings don't understand why aldermen, who make $104,101 a year and earn a generous pension, can't show up to committee meetings.

    It's "pathetic" that committee business is ever conducted without enough members present since so few are required to attend, said Terry Pastika, executive director of the Elmhurst-based Citizen Advocacy Center, a nonprofit legal organization that promotes civic involvement.

    Stewart of the Better Government Association agrees: "They sit there and bristle at being called rubber stamps, but then they won't fulfill the most obvious single job obligation they have. Committees are the lifeblood of legislative bodies. Apparently, many of them have better things to do."

    The way the Chicago City Council conducts business is "backwards," said Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman.

    The lack of attendance means there's no substantive debate on many important issues, Simpson said.

    The committees' "purpose is to discuss the legislation, perfect the legislation, offer amendments and produce a good piece of legislation," Simpson said.

    Instead of publicly debating the issues, this City Council works behind closed doors, decides it wants something passed and then holds a hearing, the former alderman said.

    Current aldermen justify their lack of participation in committees with a number of reasons, from being busy in their wards to not needing to be involved in "routine" matters.

    "The aldermen that attend, obviously, they're doing their job," O'Connor said. "Those who are not in attendance pretty well know these matters are not going to be controversial and will pass."

    Business in the City Council would "grind to a halt" if they didn't do it this way, said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

    "Many of us believe that there's no need for us to take time out of doing our work in the wards to attend committee meetings over non-controversial and pretty routine matters," Moore said. "There's an understanding that on certain things, there's no need to have a quorum."

    All public bodies are faced with this dilemma, said Beckett, an eight-year member of the Champaign County Board.

    "One of the frustrations of being on a board and being on a committee is that we will have business that we need to move along, and I always find it frustrating when people don't show up for meetings. But when you don't have a quorum, you don't have a quorum," said Beckett. "There's nothing you can do about it."

    Trinea Crafton, Anna Johnson, Beth Palmer, Autumn Reese and Michael Smith contributed to this report.

    -

    Also, in our companion piece, "Off The Record: Chicago City Council Committees Evade The Law, Experts Say":

    "More than two-thirds of Chicago's City Council committees consistently break Illinois law by keeping inadequate records that make it difficult if not impossible for the public to get even the most basic information about how its government works - harming citizens and the democratic process, experts say. An investigation by Chicago Talks and published jointly with The Beachwood Reporter found that 14 of the city's 19 committees routinely violated the Open Meetings Act over a four-month period by not keeping adequate written records of their meetings."

    -

    Contact Erica Christoffer at ericanoel@hotmail.com or Becky Schlikerman at beckyschlikerman@gmail.com. Or call 312-344-8907.

    -

    Previously:
    * Public Payroll, Family Affairs: Aldermen Keep It Relative

    Posted by Lou at 12:19 AM | Permalink

    May 18, 2008

    The White Sox Report

    At first glance, there seems to be nothing wrong with this picture, taken from the White Sox's official website. The team is encouraging fans to vote their favorite players into the All-Star Game, something Sox fans do better than most. And you may as well do your voting now, because the Sox crack promotion staff will surely bombard you from every angle if a Sox player sneaks into that silly Last Man on the Ballot thing. It worked for good ol' Scotty Pods in 2005, and no one could forget the all-too-clever "Punch AJ" campaign of 2006.

    quentin.jpg

    All the usual suspects are in the picture. Paulie, Thome, AJ, and Swisher, just like you'd expect. Juan Uribe is also present, which, of course, totally makes sense. Anytime a guy has twice as many strikeouts as walks and can post an on-base percentage under .270, you have to recognize that.

    But someone's missing.

    It's Carlos Quentin. You know, the guy currently leading the American League in home runs. The one with an OPS over 1.000. The guy people want to bench for Jerry Owens. You can vote for Quentin too, I assure you.

    General Manager Kenny Williams got blasted the last time he exchanged players with the crafty Diamondbacks, and I'm not talking about the epic Danny Richar-Aaron Cunningham in-season swap last year. Chris Young was maybe the best White Sox prospect of the last 20 years, a graceful centerfielder with loads of power. He drew comparisons to Andruw Jones, back when Andruw Jones was Andruw Jones. Young should have been patrolling center on the South Side for the next ten years. But Young was traded before the 2006 season for pitcher Javier Vazquez, a deal panned by nearly everyone. When Young played stellar defense, belted 32 homers and stole 27 bases last season as a rookie in Arizona, it seemed like everyone was right. It looked like Williams got fleeced.

    But this offseason, the roles were reserved. Williams picked Quentin from an already loaded D-backs outfield in exchange for 20-year first baseman Chris Carter, a nice prospect, but one who will probably need at least three more years of seasoning. Quentin battled just to make the roster as a fourth outfielder, and maybe it would have never happened if Owens didn't go down with an injury toward the end of spring training. But since he's made himself the everyday left fielder, Quentin has arguably been the American League's best hitter.

    While managers get most of the credit or blame for the performance of a team, GMs are far more important. It's almost a thankless job: everyone notices when you screw up but credits someone else if you find a diamond in the rough. So Kenny Williams, in case no one has told you yet, nice work on that Quentin trade. You got this team a hell of a hitter.

    And in case no one has noticed, Vazquez is currently leading the AL in strikeouts. Maybe that deal wasn't so bad after all.

    *

    Week in Review: Like we said last week, baseball seasons always have peaks and valleys. So yeah, finishing a West Coast road trip 7-3 is nice. So is winning five games in a row. So is being back atop the division. But there's still a long way to go. Cautious optimism is always the best type.

    Week in Preview: If they can win on the road, then why not at home? Cleveland and Anaheim, two of the AL's best, head to US Cellular this week in a gut-check homestand.

    Come buy our junk!: Honestly, I can't think of a better use of $50 than buying a Neifi Perez bat.

    Zito'd: You know your career has taken a turn for the worse when Toby Hall can get three hits off you. You can buy a lot of Neifi Perez bats for $126 million, San Fran.

    Wait a second: That's the same facial expression the blowup doll had!

    That's Ozzie: ''I'm sure some people think, 'There's the crazy Latino again.' But I think it has to do with my age, not because I am Latino. Maybe others feel that, but I don't. I don't believe in that stuff. When we went to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, that taught me a lot about what is going on - how bad it was with the minority people in this country. I couldn't believe it. I want to believe things are better."

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that you really should vote Uribe into the All-Star Game, solely for comedy purposes.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    RIcky O'Donnell is the most excellent proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential.

    Posted by Lou at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    I took in Sunday's game against the Pirates from a left-field rooftop. Here's how it compared to watching the game from inside Wrigley Field.

    SIGHT LINES: From the left-field rooftops you can't see the left-field warning track, so you can't see how afraid of the wall Alfonso Soriano is. ADVANTAGE: Rooftop.

    CROWDS: Although the rooftop is full of people, it is not as full as Wrigley Field itself. And people suck. ADVANTAGE: Rooftop.

    TOILETS: There are no troughs on the rooftops, unless you count the yards below. ADVANTAGE: Rooftop.

    ANNOUNCEMENTS: You can hear the public address announcer when you're sitting inside Wrigley Field. You can't hear the public address announcer from the rooftops. ADVANTAGE: Rooftops.

    COST: Rooftops are expensive. So are seats inside Wrigley. You get screwed either way. ADVANTAGE: Watching on TV.

    VIBE: The rooftops are really laid-back and the game is somewhat secondary. Inside Wrigley, the vibe is really laid-back and the game is somewhat secondary. ADVANTAGE: Neither.

    GARBAGE: Although it didn't come up, if you wanted to throw garbage on the field you could never make it from the rooftop. ADVANTAGE: Inside Wrigley.

    OVERALL: Watching Cub games from rooftops has become mostly an expensive, corporate-sponsored proposition. Watching Cub games from inside Wrigley has become mostly an expensive, corporate-sponsored proposition. ADVANTAGE: Joliet JackHammers.

    *

    Week in Review: The Cubs took three of four from the Padres and two of three from the Pirates to go 5-2 on the week. If the National League was a pocket, the Cubs would be picking it right now.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Houston and Pittsburgh for three games each this week. And then they probably play Pittsburgh again. Followed by Pittsburgh.

    The Second Basemen Report: Mark DeRosa got five starts this week while Ronnie Cedeno got two. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Mark Bellhorn is playing for Dodgers' Double-A team, the Jacksonville Suns. Mark also owns and operates four Dunkin' Donuts franchises in the greater Boston area. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z cracked bat over his knee this week. In Z's world, that's simply Furious. But he's due to go boom.

    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Jimio Edmonso-son is Japanese for "better five years ago."

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 71% sweet, 29% sour. Lou didn't get any sweeter or sourer this week due to winning baseball and a loco ace pitcher. And like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou expects you to clean your room so when it's clean he doesn't think he has to get all excited about it. He also knows that you have some issues but he's not going to coddle your ass. Besides the only way he knows how to settle issues is with a kick in the backside. Now, deal with your own head issues and leave him alone.

    Center Stage: Jim Edmonds is in the house. Felix Pie is back on the community theater circuit. Reed Johnson still gets top billing. Just like Hendry drew it up.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that there's a connection between mental stability and bats broken over one's leg.

    Over/Under: Number of bats Carlos Zambrano breaks over a leg this year: +/- 3.

    With Apologies To Nena: 99 Years of Cub Losses (99 Jahre von Bengeln Verlusten).

    Mount Lou: Mount Lou stays at warning level yellow despite cool winning breezes that have recently hardened the surface of Mount Lou. Deep down in Mount Lou's core, hot molten anger churns over a certain headcase pitcher Lou knows he has to count on. Villagers in Pittsburgh Friday night are warned to have an escape plan at the ready.

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor.


    Posted by Lou at 08:26 PM | Permalink

    Invincible Iron Man #1

    It's no surprise that in the wake of the film Iron Man's "rip-roaring" success that the comic series is seeing quite a bit of new activity - and none too soon. Iron Man has always struck me as a C-List Superhero, someone who gets called in when Superman and Batman are off fighting each other and Spider-Man is too embroiled in angst to get out of bed. They'd call Thor but he's so dreadfully pagan. That aside, he's been around since 1963, and has been badly in need of a swift kick to the rear to get going again. There's been a surge of new titles riding the movie's coat tails, with Invincible Iron Man #1 among the front runners.

    Ironcover.jpg

    Invincible Iron Man #1 starts off with a suicide bombing in Africa, one of many contemporary issues that awkwardly found its way into this issue. Certainly somebody, somewhere, thought this was a particularly clever touch. But there is something very strange about these bombers; instead of just exploding like your traditional detonating martyr, they glow all crazy blue before blasting themselves and several others into smithereens.

    Cut to space, where Iron Man is (I shit you not) repairing the heat-resistant tiles of the Space Shuttle. Apparently, Iron Man is so cool that he can fix our real world problems, too.

    Cut again to Tony Stark, zillionaire, now on Terra Firma with hot chick in bed. He looks a little awkward like he was, oh I don't know, copied from a photograph of James Bond-era Sean Connery. Of course this is nothing compared to the chick that Tony is about to bed. She looks like she's been copied off a sign for a truck stop massage parlor. She's even mugging for the camera, which should be impossible considering that this is a comic.

    Iron2.jpg

    Anyway, they're getting naked and then oh shit wait time to cut again to SHIELD headquarters where Stark puts his game face on and the story actually starts. Stark gets filled in on the whole Africa thing, has to take a moment when the word "genocide" gets thrown around, and then bemoans how they never show the shuttle landings on the news unless someone dies.

    After that whack of exposition, the pacing slows down to a readable speed and we had better get comfy because we have more exposition ahead as the villain of the series is revealed as Ezekiel Stane. Fans of the series will recognize Ezekiel as the son of Obadiah Stane, Iron Man's long time rival. The rest of us will use Wikipedia. Stane has pulled the ol' switcheroo and instead of doing the bidding of some evil tobacco execs, he's modded his brain to keep him on speed all the time. Which, as many coke-heads will confirm, allows you to shoot fire out of your fingers. The issue winds up with Iron Man having a completely obligatory fight with some faceless military types. In fact, the fight is so meaningless that Stark is able to stop and look at a picture taken during the bombing in Africa, and I am left wondering, "If this is the big reveal, why did you show it to us in the first three pages?"

    If I sound like I am not enjoying this, that's because I am not. The characters seem stiff, there's an awful lot of awkward art and writing, and nothing actually happens between the beginning and the end of this issue. Some of that can be chalked up to it being issue 1, but did we need to get all that right up front? Really, this issue isn't so much bad as it is a snooze-fest. It's just a big info-dump with a fight tacked on at the end for good measure.

    What's especially disappointing about Invincible isn't just that the film Iron Man is a fantastic thrill-ride featuring Robert Downey Jr. (whom I love) playing the role he was born to play. No, the real turd in the punch bowl is that rising star, as well as born and bred Chicago Heights native, Matt Fraction is the writer of this new series. Fraction is often called a "rising star" in comic writing, and has recently dabbled with superhero writing for X-Men, Spiderman, and the Punisher War Journal. His work on the excellently weird Casanova series has garnered him much praise, all of it well deserved. And while I have always maintained that I am deathly allergic to superhero comics, it was no doubt Fraction's excellent writing that sucked me into The Order - one of the cleverest titles I've read from the genre. Fraction is one of the best writers out there, and having him responsible something for this so blase is kind of painful. But really, it's not all his fault.

    There's another name attached to this comic and that is artist Salvador Larroca. This man is obviously an intensely talented individual, but his work seems limited only to dreadfully stiff, awkward characters that look like they were drawn from screen caps of political thriller flicks. Or pornos, as the case may be. While his work on newuniversal was acceptable(ish), here it actually seems to get in the way of reading the comic. Superhero comics are not known for their style, nor their artistic flare. And Larroca's art is par for the course: well done, but pretty boring. Larroca does well with action sequences, though. And anything mechanical, or technical, looks fantastic. Unfortunately, this bleeds over into the people as well, who look shallow and don't seem to be capable of displaying any nuanced emotion. The end effect of Larroca's work is very cinematic, but when everything looks like it was drawn from a movie, I kind of wish I could just watch the movie.

    Iron3.jpg

    For his part, Fraction seems to have remained very conservative in his scripting of this first issue. Anyone who has read Casanova is well aware that Fraction can blow your mind when he wants to. While substantially less weird, The Order was a clever take on the superhero genre. It is startling then to see how - predictable is too harsh - but ordinary Invincible Iron Man is compared to these other works. I'm willing to believe that Fraction might have some serious tricks up his sleeve for the rest of this run, but issue 1 is as milquetoast as they come.

    Fraction does deserve praise for his presentation of Tony Stark. Stark from the Ultimates series and from the film have their demons right in front of them: alcoholism, wealth built on death, over-indulgent decadence, etc. Fraction's Stark has all that behind him, and has risen as high as a mechanical superhero can. His big fear (broken into five, easy to swallow fruitiful nightmare flavors in the comic) is falling from grace, back into a dismal existence he's worked hard to escape. This could make for one of the most identifiable superheroes of all time. The feeling of being so close to backsliding into what we've worked so hard to come out from seems quite apt in a time of soaring food and oil prices, war, a depressed economy, and Dancing With The Stars. Hopefully, Fraction has recognized that Stark should be the focus of the comic, regardless of what action packed antics are going on around him. Iron Man without Stark is just another superhero; it's Stark's personality that makes the character so interesting. Of course, character-based affairs can be just as trite as an action title. If, for instance, Stark bottoms out, gets a pep talk or goes on a spirit journey and comes back to kick ass, I'll be very sad.

    Invincible Iron Man 1 is the beginning of a series for the tights-loving crowd. If you like action, shiny things, and the promise of plentiful pummelings, than this comic is for you. But if you're expecting for a genre-defying experience, it's probably best to look elsewhere. Personally, I'll probably get one more issue - just to see how my assessment stands up. I honestly hope I'm wrong, and that this title will be willing to run off the rails and push a venerable old title in new directions.

    Posted by Lou at 03:19 PM | Permalink

    May 17, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Natasha Julius is on assignment in Daley Bicentennial Plaza watching for bulldozers. The "B" team is here to set up your weekend.

    Fall Off The Earth, Boy
    The countdown has begun to one of the lamest pseudo-celebrity weddings ever! Who would've thought a poor North Shore hoodie would wind up marrying a talentless lip-synching twit whose plastic surgery-altered face is due to explode in three years? All of America cares!

    Guantanamo Gaughan
    The Cook County judge presiding over the R. Kelly trial denied a media request for access to sealed documents in the super-secret proceeding, fueling speculation that he's angling for a federal appointment before George W. Bush leaves office.

    Chills, Multiplyin'
    Taylor Hicks is joining the cast of Grease. He'll play Olivia Newton-John's grandfather. Concerned legislators propose ticket-hoarding law.

    Work Delay
    "One Winner $196 Mega Millions."

    Hold on, we have to go check on something.

    Shoot. Okay, we're back.

    Jerry! Jerry!
    "Talk show host Jerry Springer contemplated the philosophy of workplace ethics in his commencement address at Northwestern University School of Law today."

    He said it's not nice to make fun of that guy with no legs behind his reconstructed back.

    DUI Dude
    "A DuPage County judge has sentenced a Bensenville man to 20 years in prison for his ninth drunken driving conviction."

    Some people don't know when to stop at eight.

    Programming Note
    Tune in to 848 on Monday morning to get the low-down on the joint investigative reporter we'll be publishing along with ChicagoTalks.

    Also coming Monday: As always, we'll have our weekly Beachwood baseball package, including The Cub Factor and The White Sox Report, along with Jim Coffman's SportsMonday. We'll also have a new installment of Westward Ho! and some other treats.

    Posted by Lou at 05:56 AM | Permalink

    May 16, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    The Chicago Plan Commission approved what appears to be one of the most unpopular civic proposals in city history last night by a 13-2 vote. The dissenters: Doris Holleb and Lyneir Richardson.

    I will have a beer in honor of each of them tonight at the Beachwood - and maybe a beer in dishonor to each of the others.

    Then I will be up early in the morning to appear on a Society of Professional Journalists panel on citizen journalism, at DePaul. The panel starts at 8:30 a.m. in Room 161 of the Schmitt Academic Center.

    If you're up early - or just getting in - come on by.

    Programming Note
    I'll be over at Division Street later today. Watch this space tomorrow for The Weekend Desk Report. And tune in to 848 on Monday morning to hear about the joint investigative report that will appear here and on ChicagoTalks that morning.

    Today's Best People In Chicago
    From Mick Dumke at Clout City:

    "Doris Holleb: The University of Chicago trustee and professor of economics and urban planning has served as a consultant to the city's planning department and an education, economics, and cultural adviser to the Carter, Reagan, and Clinton administrations. Her husband, Marshall, is a widely respected preservationist and attorney who has donated thousands of dollars to numerous political campaigns, including those of aldermen Smith and Banks.

    "Lyneir Richardson: Richardson is a registered City Hall lobbyist for General Growth Properties, a real estate firm that develops, owns, and manages shopping malls in 45 states. The firm has received hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks around the country, according to a study by SEIU, which has been in a pissing match with it over procedures for unionizing employees."

    Today's Worst Person In Chicago
    "Some proponents were bused in by The Woodlawn Organization - founded by Leon Finney Jr., who sits on the Plan Commission," the Tribune reports.

    "'I'm here as a Plan Commission member, and I'm only going to comment about what we're doing here as a Plan Commission member,' added Finney, who confirmed his group arranged the buses."

    So that's where all those kids came from.

    From Michael O'Connor:
    How does the Trib report that Leon Finney, Jr. founded The Woodlawn Organization? As far as I know he founded a rib joint. The group's own website denotes its history as follows:

    In 1960, a group of religious and block club leaders brought together a coalition of more than 100 neighborhood associations, religious institutions and civic organizations to fight against the occurring deterioration. Contrary to what many believed, Woodlawn had a organized a number of neighborhood resources. As one of the group's leaders, Reverend Dr . Arthur M. Brazier noted, "The idea that black communities were disorganized was really a fallacy." With the assistance of Saul Alinsky, a well-known community organizer, the Temporary Woodlawn Organization (T.W.O., later to become The Woodlawn Organization) began to lead a unified movement for self-determination in the community. Dr. Brazier was founding president of the organization.

    *

    Another reader sends this link and says Finney's father was the rib guy.

    And The Foie Gras Played On
    "The number of Illinois households receiving food stamps has reached a record level, with almost 1.3 million people relying on the program to pay for daily staples such as milk, bread and eggs," the Tribune reports.

    Rainbow Coalition
    Barack Obama is against gay marriage. The California Supreme Court just ruled that gays be allowed to marry. Does Obama disagree with the court's decision?

    Everywhere A Sign
    "In another shot at Gov. Blagojevich, the Illinois House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to ban state officeholders from having their names appear on tax-subsidized billboards and electronic signs promoting government programs," the Sun-Times reports.

    "The legislation, which passed 109-1 and now moves to the Senate, stems from the $480,000 purchase and installation of 32 signs bearing Blagojevich's name promoting I-Pass lanes along the Illinois tollway system. The signs were installed in the midst of the governor's 2006 re-election campaign."

    109-1.

    I wonder who the poor sap is who stuck with the guv.

    "The only no-vote belonged to Rep. Kenneth Dunkin (D-Chicago), a Blagojevich loyalist who said there is value in having an officeholder's name emblazoned on signs promoting state programs."

    Kenneth Dunkin, today's second worst person in Chicago!

    Dunkin, as you might recall, was last seen sponsoring a bill that would have fined pedestrians talking on their cell phones while crossing the street.

    Weapons Grade
    The police department's plan to arm itself with M4 assault weapons just gets weirder. The Sun-Times reports that officers who want to get the guns will have to pass a physical fitness test.

    "If you are gasping for breath, the weapon could waver up and down," spokesperson Monique Bond said.

    Um . . . okay.

    "The plan is to deploy the weapon over the next one to three years, Bond said. The M4s have not been bought yet, she said."

    This seems to give credence to the notion advanced here recently that this sounds more like a public relations exercise than an immediate response to the current wave of gang violence.

    Or maybe it's just another hammer J-Fed is using to achieve his real goal: a guest spot on Work Out.

    Post Pre-Modern
    "Art! Sometimes we don't get it."

    Oy Gras
    From Beachwood reader Sonja Foxe:

    Re Joe Moore: "What am I, chopped liver?"

    *

    The Moore Report.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Pass the latkes.

    Posted by Lou at 08:34 AM | Permalink

    May 15, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "The alderman whom Mayor Daley derisively calls Joe 'Foie Gras' Moore (49th) now knows how the geese and ducks feel," Fran Spielman deftly writes this morning.

    "Two years after the City Council banned the liver delicacy made by jamming a steel pipe down a bird's esophagus, Daley essentially did the same to Moore on the City Council floor.

    "By a vote of 37-6, the foie gras ban that Daley claims made Chicago an international laughingstock was repealed, thanks to a legislative end-run that set a new standard for violating protocol and rolling over the opposition."

    I'm not so sure about that, given the midnight raid on Meigs Field, which would have resulted in impeachment hearings in a saner political environment than Chicago's.

    But the point is well-taken.

    "A repeal ordinance quietly introduced last year and referred to the friendly Rules Committee - bypassing a Health Committee that had approved the foie gras ban - was moved to the Council floor without a hearing, something that is seldom, if ever done.

    "When Moore objected and tried to exercise his right to postpone the vote, Daley ruled him out of order."

    It was a scene right out of Daley I, when Hizzoner used to turn off the microphones of aldermen who had the audacity to hold a view different than his.

    "When Moore tried to debate the merits, Daley ruled that the measure was not debatable. He ordered the clerk to call the roll and to continue, even as Moore shouted for the right to be heard.

    "'If it can happen to me, tomorrow it could happen to you,' Moore warned his colleagues.

    "'Thank you, Ald. Joe 'Foie Gras' Moore,' Daley said.

    Smugly, like a child.

    "Some aldermen diverted their gaze, seeming to understand that it was their embarrassment, too," Mark Brown writes. "Others just laughed at Moore."

    Yes. Pitifully.

    (Though I wonder if Brown just got into town when he writes this: "But if the mayor's latest notion for bringing efficiency to our government is to short-circuit the democratic process on the basis that everybody knows how it's going to end up, then we've got a lot bigger problem on our hands than whether duck liver pate is on the menu."

    (You think? Where is the change and hope, Obamaphiles? This is your guy's guy.)

    A national laughingstock? How about hiring the dead and drunk?

    Not worth the time? Then repeal the rest of the city's animal cruelty laws.

    Would it be different if foie gras came from dogs? Horses? Chimps?

    No harm done? See for yourself.

    And then have yourself a good laugh.

    Today's Best People in Chicago
    Aldermen who defied the mayor and voted against repealing the foie gras ban:

    * Joe Moore
    * Toni Preckwinckle
    * Ricardo Munoz
    * Ed Smith
    * Scott Waguespack
    * Rey Colon

    Today's Worst Person in Chicago
    Because Richard M. Daley is already Worst Person Emeritus, this goes to Ald. Tom "Don't You Know Who I Am?" Tunney, chief enabler of the repeal.

    Prohibition Era
    Duckeasies?

    Foie Fight
    "Make them eat steak," writes Kristen McQueary.

    Back On The Menu
    "A diseased, rotting organ of an abused animal."

    Foie Museum
    If you're attending the Plan Commission charade today, the rules have changed.

    Tribune's Wild Ride
    The Six Flags Effect.

    Division Street
    More politics there later today.

    Obamosophy
    From the University of Chicago Press blog:

    BARACK'S PHILOSOPHER: Senator Barack Obama described Reinhold Niebuhr as "one of my favorite philosophers." In his new introduction to our edition of Niebuhr's The Irony of American History, Andrew J. Bacevich says the book "provides the master key to understanding the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft." Written as the Cold War began, it is surprisingly relevant to our current situation. Read an excerpt.

    Kasstrated
    "Try to imagine John Kass writing, and the Tribune publishing, a column that's all about how black people have terrible taste, and can you believe what some of them like, and no white person should have to sit through black-themed movies - not that they'd ever want to! ack! God forbid! - and how white people are constantly getting dragged, against their will, to movies that make them want to "peel their skin off and roll around in salt - and if not salt, then . . . a bathtub of lemon juice and slit our wrists" by their stupid black friends," writes Margaret Lyons at Chicagoist.

    "That column would never run."

    But one kinda like that did, and that's what's got her (rightly) so upset.

    Rainbow Coalition
    "Larry McKeon died Tuesday. He was 63.

    "The obits will tell you that he was the first openly gay member of the Illinois General Assembly - which is a lot different than being the first gay member of that august body, as McKeon once said to me."
    - Ben Joravsky

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Force-fed.

    Posted by Lou at 08:54 AM | Permalink

    Tribune's Wild Ride

    "Tribune Company today announced that Mark Shapiro, a native Chicagoan, has been elected to the company's board of directors. Shapiro is president and chief executive officer of Six Flags, Inc., the world's largest regional amusement park company, a position he has held since December 2005."
    - May 9 press release

    Among the proposals Shapiro brings to the table:

    * Teacup delivery trucks.

    * Tribune Tower transformed into Hurricane Mountain.

    * Lou Piniella's Wild Ride!

    * Raise price of paper to an E ticket.

    * Knock over the milk bottles and win a lifetime subscription.

    * Reporters not allowed to take mascot uniforms off while on the job.

    * Bozo is back!

    * You must dunk the columnist before posting a comment.

    * The Ghost of Mike Royko Haunted House.

    * Cotton Candy now comes with your cotton candy.

    * Editorial Board Fright Night! Toss and turn as you decide just when to endorse John McCain.

    * Looney Tunes Lodge: Spend an hour practicing newsroom politics.

    * Make Tribune Company the Seventh Flag. Then sell the other six to pay down its debt.

    * Save money by using real cubs.

    Posted by Lou at 07:00 AM | Permalink

    May 14, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    1. "A man who dressed up as Darth Vader, wearing a garbage bag for a cape, and assaulted the founders of a group calling itself the Jedi church was given a suspended sentence Tuesday."

    He will do community service on a garbage scow instead of going to jail.

    2. "An Australian man has been fined after buckling in a case of beer with a seat belt but leaving a 5-year-old child to sit on the car's floor."

    A) Good. Everyone knows you should use a car seat to secure a case of beer.
    B) Good. That beer should have been in a cooler.
    C) Um, anyone know what happened to the beer?

    3. "City Council Moves Toward Ousting Mayor."

    If only we were another Detroit.

    4. "Vatican: It's OK To Believe In Aliens."

    Including the Holy Trinity.

    5. "Sneed hears a name surfacing as a possible John McCain veepmate is conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia."

    Er, well, she heard it from a crazy mumbling person on her way to work.

    6. I'll leave the punch lines for this one to the late-night professionals.

    7. "Einstein dismissed the idea of God as the produce of human weakness and the Bible as 'pretty childish.'"

    And thus could never be elected president.

    8. "Aldermen opposed to Chicago's controversial restaurant ban on foie gras said they will try to force a vote Wednesday to repeal the measure."

    They say Chicago is a laughingstock because of all the time spent on the ordinance.

    9. "City Council May Oppose Iran Invasion."

    But Daley determined to go ahead anyway.

    10. "State House Panel OKs Label For Toys With Lead."

    Label would read "This toy contains lead."

    11. "Fermilab expects to lay off about 140 employees in the coming weeks - about 10 percent of the Batavia physics laboratory's staff, once retirements and resignations are factored in, an official said Friday."

    * Subatomic muon particles will be purchased from Third World sweatshops.

    * Quark division will be merged with accounting; new double-entry bookkeeping system will feature money that is or isn't there.

    12. "Chicago Cop Found With Undelivered Tickets Fired."

    Has interview with post office tomorrow.

    13. "Cubs Sale Delay Possible."

    Steve Bartman left contracts on roof his car and drove off.

    14. "Record Condo Numbers To Saturate Downtown."

    Vatican reiterates it's okay to believe in aliens.

    15. "Lawsuit: JetBlue Pilot Made Passenger Sit On The Toilet."

    Had to make room for case of beer.

    16. "Fewer Fliers Won't Mean Roomier Planes This Summer."

    Part of new Toilet Class trend.

    17. "Pastor John Hagee Says He's Sorry For Anti-Catholic Remarks."

    Meant to rip Jews.

    18. "Stroger Visits Hoffman Estates, Says He's Not Afraid Of The Suburbs."

    But vote on the matter expected to be close.

    19. "Icahn Pondering Proxy Fight For Yahoo."

    Uses Google to find out more about the company.

    20. "Pritzker Family Member Buys Auctioned Pritzker Land."

    Parcel will be named Pritzker instead of Pritzker.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Auctionable.

    Posted by Lou at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    Porn Again or Born Again?

    America to Decide on May 19

    Into the life of every nation comes a deciding event, a milestone moment when the eternal destiny of a people may be decided. When America is weighed in God's balance, will it be found wanting? Or will our citizens finally declare, "Enough," and take back this country from the hands of the Internet flesh merchants?

    May 19, 2008, is such a pivotal date on the Divine calendar. It is a rare gift, an opportunity to make lasting difference for righteousness in our generation and for those that follow. Promoting and participating in this event is a chance for you to take a stand and be counted.

    porn2.jpgThis may require sacrifice for you and your listeners. To take part in the May 19th events, you or your listeners will have to travel to Washington D.C. You'll need to rise early to attend a prayer breakfast from 8 until 9. You'll want to stay for a conference addressing the problem of porn from 9 until 11 at the Murrow Room of the National Press Club. And you'll be given the opportunity to parade your criticisms of lax Department of Justice and FBI obscenity enforcement policies during a peaceful two-hour demonstration in front of the Justice Department building (950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW), starting at 11:30 a.m.

    But if you've had enough of seeing God's Word flaunted, America's soaring divorce rates, the sexual abuse of women and children, battered self-esteem for those trapped by this pernicious habit, and the squandering of billions of dollars that could go toward far better purposes, you will have no better or more timely opportunity to make a difference.

    If you would like to address the issue of obscenity and the May 19th efforts to stop it in its tracks, we invite you to book an interview with Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media, based in New York. He'll be happy to answer questions about why our incoming president must effectively enforce existing obscenity laws, the effects of ignoring those laws, and the powerful impact that we all can make in Washington D.C. on a very special Monday in May.

    ABOUT ROBERT PETERS
    Robert Peters is President of Morality in Media. He has been a guest on many television programs including three times on Larry King. He has been a diligent warrior in the fight against indecency for over two decades.

    Headquartered in New York City, Morality In Media (MIM) works through constitutional means to curb traffic in illegal obscenity. MIM operates the www.obscenitycrimes.org website, where citizens can report possible violations of federal Internet obscenity laws.

    Established in New York City in 1962 to combat pornography, Morality In Media works to inform citizens and public officials about the harms of pornography and about what they can do through law to protect their communities and children. MIM also works to maintain standards of decency on TV and in other media. Contributions are tax-exempt.

    Posted by Lou at 08:17 AM | Permalink

    Booklist: Walgreen's Discount Shelf

    Two for $10, or $5.99 each.

    1. Polar Shift/Clive Cussler

    2. Angels Fall/Nora Roberts

    3. Twelve Sharp/Janet Evanovich

    4. Light From Heaven/Jan Karon

    5. Crisis/Robin Cook

    6. Brethren/Robin Young

    7. Bad Childhood, Good Life/Dr. Laura Schlessinger

    8. S is for Silence/Sue Grafton

    9. The Divide/Nicholas Evans

    10. Survivor in Death/Nora Roberts & J.D. Robb

    11. Full Court Press/Mike Lupica

    12. Monster/Frank Peretti

    13. On the Couch/Lorraine Bracco

    14. Bad Boy Brawly Brown/Walter Mosley

    15. Metro Girl/Janet Evanovich

    16. The Office of Desire/Martha Moody

    17. The Mermaid Chair/Sue Monk Kidd

    18. Next/Michael Crichton

    -

    Previously in Booklist:

    * Kinko's Kiosk

    * The Last 10 Books I Read And Why

    * The Beachwood Inn Bookshelf

    * Five Best Books Ever (For Now)

    * A Beachwood Gift Guide

    * Have A Right-Wing Christmas

    Posted by Lou at 07:40 AM | Permalink

    May 13, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "Tribune Co. Chairman Sam Zell has rejected former Gov. James Thompson's secret plan to acquire and renovate Wrigley Field for at least $400 million without raising taxes and now plans to package the Cubs and their landmark stadium in a private transaction," the Sun-Times reports.

    Thank God that's over.

    "[S]ources said Zell has rejected the state's proposed terms because it relies on a novel and untested financing plan: the sale of individual seats at Wrigley as if they were condominiums."

    Which would make Cubs fans feel right at home.

    "The idea is called equity seat rights and has been advanced by Chicago area business executive Lou Weisbach, who has applied for patent rights on it."

    And here it is the patent application.

    Zell's Knell
    I'm sure the tax implications of the plan were the first thing Zell looked at. That's what he does.

    "Tribune Co. reported a huge boost in first-quarter earnings on Thursday because of tax advantages related to its status as an employee-owned company, but a drop in advertising revenue at its newspapers hurt its underlying results."

    Not having to pay Tribune Co. taxes has already been very, very good to Sam Zell. But not so much the rest of us.

    Second Syndrome
    A city that gives Pat Sajak an honorary street has not yet attained world-class status.

    Sneed's Ranch
    Note: On April 10, the first poll out of Puerto Rico showed Hillary Clinton with a 50-37 advantage over Barack Obama.

    Michael Sneed, April 25: "A sure bet: Dems on both sides want this nightmare ended before the Dems' last primary (Puerto Rico) on June 3. But bet the ranch Puerto Rico will go to Obama. 'There is no more popular politician in Puerto Rico than (U.S. Rep.) Luis Gutierrez . . . and he's an Obama supporter,' the source added."

    Michael Sneed, May 13: "Hmmm: Even though U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez is the most popular American politician in Puerto Rico, Sneed hears he's got an uphill battle to win the primary for Obama."

    By the way, Sneed's "source" for the first item was "a top Barack Obama supporter."

    Oversight Oversight
    "The [Chicago City] Council's Human Relations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today on a resolution 'opposing any U.S. attack on Iran,'" Steve Huntley writes this morning. "The full Council could vote on it on Wednesday. The results are a foregone conclusion. Today's hearing features among its witnesses the anti-war figure Scott Ritter and John Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago professor known for seeing 'Israel lobby' machinations behind U.S. foreign policy."

    So that's why the city council doesn't have time to hold hearings on the various scandals emanating from City Hall; it's too busy overseeing America's foreign policy!

    "The resolution is sponsored by eight aldermen, including veterans such as Joseph A. Moore (49th) and Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and newcomers like Sandi Jackson (7th) and Robert W. Fioretti (2nd). They accuse the Bush administration of 'a systematic campaign' to portray Iran as 'an imminent threat to the American nation, American troops in the Middle East and U.S. allies.' They compare this to 'the use of unreliable sources, exaggerated threat assessment, the selective use of information' in the run-up to Iraq."

    Maybe Scott Ritter knows who hired Angelo Torres. Otherwise methinks the council should stick to zoning ordinances, the CTA, and honorary street names.

    Jerry's World
    Jerry Reinsdorf answers critics who say it's his fault the Bulls lost coaching candidate Mike D'Antoni to the Knicks.

    "I said if we need to get something done this weekend we shouldn't even bother talking because it will take longer than that," Reinsdorf told the Tribune. "He said nothing had to be done over the weekend."

    I dunno, maybe when D'Antoni did get an offer over the weekend, he thought it more attractive than engaging in a drawn-out affair whose twists and turns would be endlessly analyzed in the media.

    "I also said if this proceeds to where we want to make an offer, we don't deal with coach's agents. He said that's not a problem and that money wasn't the most important thing anyway. He said he wanted a job where he was going to be happiest. He said he didn't want to coach the Knicks."

    Well, again, D'Antoni may have been turned off by an owner unwilling to deal with an agent. And, you know, he could have been using the Bulls as negotiating leverage. Or just being polite to Reinsdorf. Who knows, but when the Knicks made an offer and the Bulls didn't, well, that about says it all doesn't it?

    Reinsdorf also spoke to The Sporting News - and D'Antoni, who didn't speak to the Trib, responded.

    Here's what our very own Jim Coffman had to say about the matter in his SportsMonday column.

    Public Service Message
    "Most studies advise against paper bags to treat hyperventilation."

    Baseball Zen
    "The Bobby Valentine on view in the documentary The Zen of Bobby V is both familiar and alien to those who recall him as a manager of the Mets and the Texas Rangers," Richard Sandomir writes in the New York Times. "As the manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, he is still loquacious and maddening, a grand ham who cannot accept losing.

    "And he still gets cranky with reporters, who are much kinder in Japan.

    "Now he speaks Japanese pretty well. He rides his bike around Chiba. He is mobbed wherever he goes. A beer and a hamburger are named for him. He lectures at universities about leadership, which he says Japanese baseball needs to survive."

    *

    The moment when Bobby V won me over.

    bobby.jpg

    *

    Bobby's Cha-Cha

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Zen Zen.

    Posted by Lou at 08:07 AM | Permalink

    Reviewing the Reviews

    This is catch-up week here at Reviewing the Reviews. Let's polish off this stack that's been hanging around for a few weeks so we can start fresh again next time out.

    Gang Bang
    "Visitors to Chicago in the 1990s, were likely to know the names of three architectural landmarks: Sears Tower, Soldier Field and the Robert Taylor Homes," University of Chicago history professor Jane Dailey wrote last month in a Tribune review of Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets..

    Um, no. Wrigley Field would make that list, but if you're going to include a housing project - and you really shouldn't - Cabrini-Green is better-known to the outside world. I mean, that's where the Evans' lived on Good Times.

    Dailey is more on target stating that Chicago's public housing projects were "Neglected to the point of abandonment by Chicago's municipal government" and that Robert Taylor residents were "Caught between the Black Kings [gang] and a municipal government unwilling to provide the most basic services."

    Which goes a long way toward explaining the utterly rationality and hidden complexity of poor people's relationships to gang bangers and their government. And that seems to be the core of what Venkatesh's book is about.

    Still, Bailey finds plenty of bones to pick with Venkatesh, whom she calls a hustler not much different than the hustlers he writes about. "Anyone who admits to taking up golf to maximize access to his dissertation adviser hardly needs instruction in hustling," she writes at one point; at another, "Given the choice of genres, many may prefer fiction [The Wire is her choice] to a scholarly autobiography that is so obviously a hustle."

    Radio Nowhere
    "[W]hen Alec Foege, a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Spin and Playboy, set out to write the definitive history of a company that possesses more radio stations than any other, he decided to give it the benefit of the doubt," Jacques Steinberg wrote in his Times review of Foege's Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio.

    "'I was not out to do a hatchet job,' he writes in the preface to Right of the Dial, 'but rather to get to the bottom of a company that I suspected had gotten a raw deal as its bad publicity had snowballed.'

    "The reader need wait only three paragraphs before Foege renders his final verdict: 'Having spent a lot of time talking to some of the company's most prominent critics, as well as some of its most devout supporters, I have concluded that Clear Channel is indeed to blame for much of what it has been accused of.'"

    *

    By the way, Steinberg notes that Clear Channel's "buying binge" was enabled by the relaxation of federal media ownership rules in the late 1990s.

    Boring stuff like media regulation that rarely gets thorough coverage in the mainstream stuff matters; it affects the songs we can or cannot hear on the radio, the quality and quantity of noxious political chat, the presence or not of public affairs programming. Reporters (and more importantly, their editors) who are bored by this stuff completely fail to connect it to something visible in everybody's lives, like the crappy Top 40 and Rush Limbaugh.

    Clinton in Sexile
    I wrote last week of my disappointment in Clinton in Exile, by local writer Carol Felsenthal. See, I'm huge Felsenthal fan, and I was really looking forward to this book. Here's what David Shribman wrote in a Tribune review this week:

    "This is at best a tentative look at Bill Clinton. It is also an angry book, and it may prompt a reader to wonder whether any disparaging quote, observation, aside, or unproven and unprovable anecdote could possibly have been omitted from its 300-plus pages of text. Many of these points are made in the rhetorical camouflage of 'some said' ('he had a strained marriage that some said was a charade'), many are made by inserting gratuitous phrases into her sentences ('the most humiliating details of a pathetic tryst with an intern not much older than his beloved [daughter] Chelsea'), and many are made by sweeping statements ('Not even his friends had a kind or even neutral word to say about Clinton's pardon of the billionaire fugitive-from-American-justice accused of trading with the enemy,' a reference to Marc Rich). Those three examples appear within seven paragraphs of each other."

    I'm still a huge Carol Felsenthal fan; just not of this book.

    Bookmarks
    * Pavlov rarely used a bell.

    * President Bush gave the 9/11 Commission $3 million to do its job. A similar commission studying the Challenger disaster had $40 million. And oh yeah, George Tenet lied.

    * "Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago are now the world's top three superclass producers."

    * "I would be honored to work for her if she asked me," Samantha Power says of the woman she called a monster.

    * "When a businessman named Ray Kroc bought a 'drive-in burger bar' in San Bernardino, California, run by Richard and Maurice McDonald, he built on White Castle's practice of culinary standardization."


    Posted by Lou at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    May 12, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    * "Really, just a normal week of Ozzie Guillen's White Sox," our very own Ricky O'Donnell writes in his White Sox Report. "Simply a 4-3 record, with a little blow-up doll action, a near no-hitter, and some Cubs-bashing sprinkled in. Nothing to see here."

    * "It's time, people. Time to hop on the Cub Train. And like the CTA, it's on fire," our very own Marty Gangler writes in The Cub Factor.

    * "How about it, Jerry Reinsdorf? How about for once acknowledging you blew it and you're sick about it?" our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

    God, we're good.

    The Daley Show
    The mayor guest-blogs for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Feel free to leave a comment.

    Power Play
    State Senate President Emil Jones says he opposes a campaign finance reform bill because, in the paraphrase of AP, "the money would simply consolidate power and influence of state parties."

    And who is the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party? Jones's archenemy, Mike Madigan.

    Ickes Wicket
    "Comments by Chicago's public housing chief have left residents of the Harold Ickes Homes on the Near South Side rattled, wondering whether their development will eventually be torn down," the Tribune reported on Friday.

    * I've got news for Ickes residents: whatever happens will not be in your best interest.

    * By the way, when I was at the Tribune 15 years ago I was told you couldn't use the word "project" to describe, um, a housing project. Instead, you had to use the word "development." Apparently that's still the rule.

    Kids' Play
    "Chicago Children's Museum officials were in the Woodlawn neighborhood Thursday night pitching their $100 million plan to relocate the facility to Grant Park to a lively group of about 200 children from after-school programs," the Tribune reported on Friday.

    The museum pitched their plan to children? Have they no shame?

    "As the children munched on pretzels and drank from juice boxes at the Harris Park Field House, Jim Law, the museum's vice president of planning and external affairs, said the project was good for families."

    Jim Law, the museum's vice president of planning and external affairs, spun a bunch of kids sipping from juice boxes?

    "The town hall meeting was organized by Georgette Greenlee-Finney, executive director of a community group called the Woodlawn Organization. 'This evening was about making sure that decisions that affect all of us just don't happen within the confines of a few people who have $400, $500, $600 and $700,000 to live next door to Grant Park,' she told the crowd."

    Did anyone ask why the museum didn't consider locating in Woodlawn then?

    "No opponents of the proposal spoke Thursday night."

    I'm pretty sure none were invited. Wouldn't want to confuse the kids.

    "At the end of the meeting, the children were told to fill out a card urging aldermen to 'support this museum for children from our neighborhood.'"

    Oh. My. God.

    A) Were they registered to vote, too?
    B) Were they charged $9 each to attend the meeting?
    C) Were they taught what a race card was?

    *

    Let's put all the adults underground.

    Fun With Fermilab
    Budget cuts are forcing Fermilab to economize; we've learned that the measures being considered include:

    * Scientists will use one less dimension.

    * E will now equal just MC.

    * Quark division will be merged with accounting; new double-entry bookkeeping system will feature money that is or isn't there.

    Go read the whole thing!

    Memo Madness
    "Mayor Daley's chief of staff has sent a memo to city workers warning there had better be no retaliation against more than 1,400 people who got a piece of the $12 million fund to compensate victims of rigged hiring," the Sun-Times reported on Thursday.

    The S-T forgot to note the emoticon ; at the end of the memo.

    Park Snark
    "When it comes to parks and politics, Mayor Richard Daley has this town completely bamboozled."

    Olympic Hurdles
    "Wal-Mart got the word from city officials last month that Mayor Richard Daley doesn't want to risk a messy showdown with unions over Wal-Mart - like the big-box store battle of 2006 - while Chicago is still in the running as a host city for the 2016 Olympics, according to people familiar with the matter," the Tribune reports. "The International Olympic Committee is slated to make that decision in October 2009."

    Just in case there's anyone out there who doesn't think every decision coming out of City Hall these days is refracted through the Olympic lens.

    Anniversary Song
    "Just as in the Led Zeppelin song, for Ron Huberman in his first year at the helm: 'Communication breakdown, it's always the same.'"

    Thanks, Blogosphere
    The Dance Movie Blogathon was a smashing success over at Ferdy on Films. Thanks, everyone.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Dividing and multiplying.

    Posted by Lou at 09:52 AM | Permalink

    Fermilab Funding Fracas

    "Fermilab expects to lay off about 140 employees in the coming weeks - about 10 percent of the Batavia physics laboratory's staff, once retirements and resignations are factored in, an official said Friday."

    Here are some of the other cost-cutting measures Fermilab is considering.

    * New partnership between particle accelerator unit and Team Demolition Derby in Joliet.

    * Eastern portion of sky declared the Forbidden Zone; will no longer be monitored.

    * Subatomic muon particles will be purchased from Third World sweatshops.

    * Quark division will be merged with accounting; new double-entry bookkeeping system will feature money that is or isn't there.

    * Roadkill will be used for all Schrodinger experiments instead of live cats.

    * Lunch will be ordered from Pizza Hut instead of Tuscani's.

    * Magnets will now be purchased in bulk from Walgreen's.

    * Fermilab finds new partner, will relaunch as Quarks 'N Things.

    * Will now pretend dark matter is just darkness.

    * Absolute zero will be recalculated to save on heating bills.

    * Fermilab will be renamed Physics "R" Us; gift shop will sell gravity boots.

    * Finally enters x-ray specs market.

    * Procurement officers will use time machine to purchase items at 1973 prices.

    * Employees now encouraged to use the universe's microwave background for burritos instead of those crappy energy-sucking units in the lounge.

    * Scientists will use one less dimension.

    * E will now equal just MC.

    * The speed of light will be held to 55 mph.

    * String theory will now be applied to employee health insurance plans.

    * New naming rights program, including Trump's Theory of Relativity.

    Posted by Lou at 08:01 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    The New York Knickerbockers just hired the coaching candidate, Mike D'Antoni, whom the Bulls most coveted. But that's OK, we've still got Riccardo Muti!

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor
  • Muti, of course, is the superstar free agent conductor signed last week by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to a kazillion-dollar deal to be its next musical director. It was clear the equivalent job at the New York Philharmonic was Muti's for the taking the past few years, but it was Chicago that closed the deal. Way to go CSO!

    * Wouldn't it be cool if for once in our sports fan lives, one of the caretakers of our beloved teams would step up and take responsibility for what could most charitably be described as a major screw-up? How about it, Jerry Reinsdorf? How about for once acknowledging you blew it and you're sick about it? It was clear early last week that D'Antoni, the leader of the run-and-gun Suns the past four, playoff-game filled seasons, wanted to be the next coach of the Bulls. And it was clear in the middle of the week that John Paxson was ready to make the hire. But that wasn't enough for Reinsdorf. He had to interview D'Antoni personally.

    And even that wasn't enough. He wanted a second interview, apparently on Saturday, during which time he might or might not have offered enough money to entice D'Antoni to turn down the job in the Big Apple Core. Before that interview could be set up, the coach decided to go with the Knicks.

    Reinsdorf must have been just itching to work some of his contract-negotiation magic, to sign D'Antoni to the sort of complicated deal that would have initially appeared to pay him a market rate but would have included some sort of clever clause deep in the fine print like the infamous diminishing skills language he put in Frank Thomas' last contract with the White Sox. That was the part of the contract that enabled Reinsdorf to simply declare that Thomas' skills were diminished and to then pay him less (it was a clause never seen in any other prominent professional baseball contract before or since).

    He also worked over Scottie Pippen and agent Jimmy Sexton at the dawn of the Bulls' championship run (yes, yes, yes he reportedly told Pippen not to sign the long-term contract that offered him some financial security - Pippen was apparently worried about a balky back - but which paid him less as the years went by - but c'mon, that was Reinsdorf playing Brer Rabbit, to a 'T' I might add).

    His attempted chicanery backfired this time. Surely it occurred to D'Antoni that he probably wanted to go with the team where the chain of command was clear, where he would answer to highly respected general manager Donnie Walsh and to him alone. And so D'Antoni signed on with the Knicks, the team with by far the worst collection of untradable contracts (and the stiffs who signed them) in the NBA.

    * I am not a Reinsdorf hater. Of course he has made plenty of questionable decisions and of course there have been many, many disappointments in a quarter-century of running two local teams. But when you start talking about the guy, you better start by acknowledging he's not only the best sports CEO Chicago's ever known, he's one of the best overall. Tell me again how many executives have presided over two different teams winning major sports championships in a specific town (and no, hockey doesn't count)? You can count them on one hand.

    But it is time for someone else to run the Bulls. During the season, Reinsdorf apparently betrayed the thousands of fans who just keep buying tickets no matter how expensive by vetoing a proposed trade for Spanish seven-footer Pau Gasol that would have required the Bulls to pay some luxury tax (the best guesstimate I heard was it would have been something like $11 million over the final three years of his contract). You can currently watch Gasol providing critical low-post playoff scoring and all sorts of rebounding for a Laker team that was scuffling along in the middle of the pack before he arrived in a mid-season trade, and which is now universally acclaimed as a legitimate championship contender.
    And now we have the sequence of events known forever more as "The D'Antoni Fiasco." Focus on your true love, Jerry. Make it all baseball all the time.

    * Some have also criticized Reinsdorf for "low-ball" contract extension offers to Luol Deng and Ben Gordon before the season started. Those offers, which were rejected, apparently caused Deng and Gordon to put additional pressure on themselves and to eventually play considerably worse than they had the previous campaign. First of all, we're still not to the point where $50 million qualifies as low-ball, no matter what the context. Second, were people watching those two guys play this year? Most of the time they weren't worth $5 mill', let alone 10 times that amount.

    * D'Antoni is best-known for an offensive philosophy that boils down to "hurry the ball up the floor, find an open shot as quickly as you can, and get that shot up, especially if it's a three." He's got one guy who will heave up as many quick shots as a coach could ever ask for in New York in former Bull Jamal Crawford. The problem will be that with Crawford firing away, lumbering center Eddie Curry may not make it past half court for whole quarters at a time.

    And now for a wee bit of baseball:

    * It was about time Chicago's baseball teams stopped sucking and the Cubs did so and then some over the weekend. That Kerry Wood character is rounding into ninth-inning shape quite nicely all of a sudden, isn't he? I don't mind people advocating that Carlos Marmol take over as closer (the guy has just been gloriously good hasn't he?). But when everyone was calling for Wood's scalp after that brutal outing against the Brewers at the beginning of the month, there was something missing.

    Leading up to Wood's disastrous ninth in that game, Marmol got the last two outs in the seventh inning and set down the middle of the Brewer lineup in the eighth. After the game, everyone wanted Marmol pitching future ninth innings, but I didn't see anyone saying who would then get those outs in the seventh and eighth. As long as Wood is successful at least, what, 80 percent of the time, isn't Marmol more valuable to the Cubs in a more flexible role, where he is conditioned and ready to go as many as two innings in any given game?

    Another thing about blown saves. There ought to be some distinction between blown saves in which the closer gives up the winning run and blown saves in which he allows only the tying run to score. Wood totally torched the game with the Brewers but if I'm not mistaken in his previous couple of blown saves, he allowed only the tying run to score, at least giving the Cubs a chance to come back and win it in extra innings. And they did exactly that. Joe Borowski used to do that for the Cubs earlier this decade. He would give up the tying run but then hunker down and not let the game get completely away.

    When I start reminiscing about the Borowski era, it is probably time to sign off.

    -

    Jim Coffman dispenses his sports wisdom in this space every Monday.

    Posted by Lou at 07:38 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    Like most teams, the Sox have been up and down so far this season. The first three weeks of the year gave fans optimism to think maybe this team is really better than most humans and computers expected, while during last week's six-game losing streak, the season was (obviously) over.

    Such is the case for almost every team during baseball's eternal season. It's important to remember that small sample sizes are nothing if not deceiving, and that most things find their way back to the mean before long. That has always been one of the first things The Sox Report points out when discussing early season baseball, but, like everyone else, we still often fall into the trap.

    Remember our declaration that Nick Swisher was already the Sox best player? Well, we wrote that after he had been on the team for a week. A lot of fans now think Swish is a bum, as he's hitting all of .200. Of course, that isn't where he'll end up in September; sportswriters and fans should remember that.

    Yet, if such logic was deployed last season, everyone would have thought the White Sox hitters would have broken out of their early season slump. It never happened and the team lost 90 games, though the majority of the roster had been on 99- and 90-win Sox teams the previous two seasons.

    The lesson, as always, is that baseball is completely fucking crazy, and no one ever knows what they're talking about. Not you, or I, or even the great Peter Gammons. And especially not Joe Morgan. Someone should really fire that guy already.

    -

    Week in Review: Really, just a normal week of Ozzie Guillen's White Sox. Simply a 4-3 record, with a little blow-up doll action, a near no-hitter, and some Cubs-bashing sprinkled in. Nothing to see here.

    Week in Preview: Interleague play starts already? My how time flies! But seriously, besides the Sox-Cubs series, interleague play is stupid. At least the Sox get to face an abysmal Giants team this week after they play four against the Angels in Anaheim or Los Angeles or Orange County or wherever.

    Lineup Shake-Up: So with the Sox struggling to score runs this week, Ozzie Guillen decided to do the sensible thing and shake up the batting order. Like moving up Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin and moving down Jim Thome and Paul Konerko, right? Wrong. Guillen moved the struggling Swisher down in the order, and placed Orlando Cabrera in the leadoff spot. This may seem all well and fine but the stats prove it's completely illogical. The most important number for a leadoff hitter? On-base percentage, of course. While Swisher was slipping a little, his OBP was still .350ish, or some 40 points higher than Cabrera's. Is this as bad as the Cubbies batting masher/free swinger Alfonso Soriano leadoff? Nope. But it's close.

    Think Pink: I've always loved the Sox's black uniforms because they remind me of the Raiders. When my beloved Bears play the Raiders, it's kind of scary. I'd like to think that the Sox have a similar effect on opponents. After all, Juan Uribe did kill a guy. Unfortunately, pink goatees have the exact opposite effect. That's less manly than calling your mom for help when you're getting beat up

    Who Done It?: Is their any doubt that Swisher was all over this blowup doll biz? I think not.

    That's Ozzie: ''We won it a couple years ago, and we're horse[bleep]. The Cubs haven't won in 120 years, and they're the [bleep]ing best. [Bleep] it, we're good. [Bleep] everybody. We're horse[bleep], and we're going to be horse[bleep] the rest of our lives, no matter how many World Series we win. We are the bitch of Chicago. We're the Chicago bitch. We have the worst owner - the guy's got seven [bleep]ing rings, and he's the [bleep]ing horse[bleep] owner.''

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Gavin Floyd is maybe, possibly, hopefully for real.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    RIcky O'Donnell is the most excellent proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential.

    Posted by Lou at 07:21 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Last week had its sour notes, but with an impressive sweep of the Diamondbacks over the weekend to put the Cubs back into first place, we here at the Cub Factor are going to let our guard down and make a declaration: It's time, people. Time to hop on the Cub Train. And like the CTA, it's on fire. (Unlike the CTA, it's making stops all over town.)

    On the other hand, the last thing you want is to board a bandwagon full of your colleagues at the office. So just throw a few of these winners out this week at the office cooler and keep your rep as a skeptic intact.

    * Alfonso Soriano is going to carry this team. If the team needs be carried a short distance.

    * Carlos Zambrano is really a team guy deep down. And it will take years of psychotherapy to get to that layer .

    * Derrek Lee's power is back. Too bad he left his glove behind.

    * Reed Johnson plays centerfield like a blow-up doll with a bat up its ass.

    * Off-season cockfighting has been good to Aramis Ramirez. He no longer plays like a chicken with his head cut off, just like a guy trying to be the biggest cock.

    * Mike Fontenot can bench press more than twice his weight. But you and I can bench press Mike Fontenot.

    * Daryle Ward can eat twice his weight in one sitting. If he shows some discipline.

    * Mark DeRosa is a better utility player than ComEd. But at least ComEd plays every day.

    * Lou Piniella pushes all the right buttons. All those years of video poker have finally paid off.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-2 this week, losing two of three to Dusty Baker's lousy Reds and then sweeping a three-game series from the best team in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The bandwagon is now accepting passengers.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs' homestand continues this week with four games against the underachieving Padres and three against the sadsack Pirates. By this time next week, the bandwagon should be fairly full.

    The Second Basemen Report: Three different players started six games at the second sack this week. DeRosa got three starts, Ronnie Cedeno got two, and Fontenot got one. Uncle Lou is looking for the hot hand and second base is where he stokes the fire. Whoever keeps their hand close to the flame the longest will play. You know, just like Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Todd Walker was released by the A's in 2007 and is no longer in the big leagues, though it's not clear whether he has retired. He is missed.

    Zam Bomb: The Cubs defused the Zam bomb this week by pushing back his scheduled start on Sunday to keep him out of the rain. But his wick is waterproof and he still remains angry.

    zam_gettingAngry.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Felixio Fukopie is Japanese for unseasoned meat.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 71% sweet, 29% sour. Lou is up seven points on the Sweet-O-Meter this week due to sweeping the Diamondbacks. And like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is happy you helped him pull that big stump out of the backyard. But it's still no garden yet back there so don't get too excited, junior. There's still a lot more work to do. Now go get him a Falstaff.

    Center Stage: Felix Pie (.222) started five games this week; Johnson (.255) started one. game this week (now batting .255). Neither is ready to headline.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that games played at other team's parks also count in the standings.

    Over/Under: The number of people who panicked after the Reds series but now are the world's biggest Cubs fans: +/- 57,269.

    With Apologies To Nena: 99 Years of Cub Losses (99 Jahre von Bengeln Verlusten).

    Mount Lou: Lou moves down one notch yellow status as cool lake breezes soothed Mount Lou's anger magma. But remain on alert. Hot weather is coming and Mount Lou is far from dormant

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Are you on the bandwagon or off? Let Marty know.

    Posted by Lou at 06:38 AM | Permalink

    Toffee Sunday Smash

    You'd think that after all this time I'd despair of finding yet more podcasts that feature the kind of late '60s/early '70s psychedelic rock that I love beyond all reason for Playlist. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong because, my friend, apparently anyone who's ever felt the urge to light up and kick back with the likes of Kaleidoscope, The Creation and The Playground has become a podcast DJ and has taken to the Internet like a hippie to a microdot. There's so much out there, man. This time, it's a British dude named Andy who hosts Toffe Sunday Smash, and it is indeed smashing.

    Andy Morten, 38, of Frome, Somerset, specializes in what he calls the "weird, wide-eyed and wonderful world of (British) bands like Kaleidoscope, Timebox, Blossom Toes, Tomorrow, The Mirage, Turquoise and their glorious ilk." It's the kind of music that was the background to the Summer of Love, when it was okay to bleat plaintively and smash your drumkit all at the same time. When you could sing about peace and love with a straight face while simultaneously playing a proto-metal riff.

    I think what I loved most about this era and type of rock was that, in its (and our) innocence, it believed that light and heavy could co-exist on the same trip . . . something that I have never stopped believing can be true, but which has never really been the case since Black Sabbath and Deep Purple turned the "big noise" part of it into the formulaic, hard-hearted drone of "heavy metal."

    toffee_sunday.jpgNo, the psychedelic rock of the late '60s was a bit twee, brainy and fey, much like the frisky hippies themselves, but nonetheless capable of rumble and hum. And of course, unashamedly self-indulgent, with its sloppin' side dishes of what later come to be called "progressive rock" and jazz. It takes patience to go where these bands take you because you're not going to get there straightaway. There are crazy curves and detours, but it's ultimately worth the effort because this era of psych was determined to feed you your mind candy at the end of the road.

    So take Andy's promo of Toffe Sunday Smash as the truth: "Whether you're at home, on a train or flying through a lemonade sky on the back of a giant butterfly, close your eyes and dig the pretty colours."

    Here's the playlist for April 22, 2008 edition of Toffee Sunday Smash, a show in which Andy searched far and wide for songs with the word "mister" somewhere in the title, known as the "Mister Psych Episode."

    1. Locomotive, "Mr Armageddon" (We Are Everything You See, 1969, EMI). From BrumBeat Reviews: "...The thundering Hammond organ-driven 'Mr. Armageddon' is probably one of the most amazing examples of late 1960s psychedelia ever recorded by a British band. The heavy Hammond workout combined with the booming brass chorus of saxophone and trumpet is far removed from any of the band's previously released material (and no Hammond organs were harmed during the recording of this track - we hope!)"

    2. The Fox, "Mr. Blank" (For Fox Sake, 1970, Bam Caruso). From the Acid Dazed blog: "Excellent album from Brighton's finest, The Fox, the only album they made, and was recorded in the studios of Radio Luxembourg. All the songs you hear except two are the first takes and the whole album was made very quickly and released soon after to much (praise). The band was due for a second album recording session, but the management suddenly lost interest - there was a new band on the scene named Black Sabbath and, just like that, The Fox were dropped."

    3. Mike Proctor, "Mr. Commuter" (Insane Times: 25 British Psychedelic Artyfacts From The EMI Vaults, 2007, EMI). From the Garden of Delights blog: "Featured for the first time on CD is the cracking and biting 'Mr. Commuter' by Mike Proctor. In what can only be described as a Ray Davies-esque attack on the middle classes, 'Mr. Commuter' sees Proctor sneering, 'Mister Commuter you're like a computer . . . you never step out of line . . . ' It's a little twee, but Jesus, there's a fuzz guitar to die for in this."

    4. Elli, "Mister Man" (We All Live On Candy Green: Electric Sound Show Volume One, 2004, Electric Sound Show). All Music Guide's John "Mojo" Mills on the criminally overlooked British band Elli: "It is apparent that this multicultural, inventive unit that was centered around Indian singer Elli was managed badly and left to fall apart instead of being promoted as something special. In an era when India was incredibly fashionable, it would have been wonderful to see Elli become a star, but it was not to be."

    5. The Koobas, "Mr. Claire" (The Koobas,, 1969, Beat Goes On). From Planet Mellotron: "The Koobas were an original Merseybeat outfit, actually managed by Brian Epstein, who struggled on until the end of the '60s, mutating into a psych band en route. Strings on 'Mr. Claire' and brass on 'Circus' finish things off nicely, making for quite a mellotron album, at the end of the day."

    6. Mike Batt, "Mr. Poem" (A Trip Into Toytown 3, 2007, CDR). From the Marmalde Skies website: "Future arranger, producer, writer and Womble Mike Batt started his career (in 1968) with this single about a dude everyone calls Mr. Poem. Somehow we're not sure if they mean it as a compliment but it's a dandy little song."

    tangerine.jpg7. Kaleidoscope, "Mr. Small The Watch Repairer Man" (Tangerine Dream, 1967, Repertoire). From Prog Archives.Com: "'Mr. Small The Watch Repairer Man' has even more production details verging on psychedelic (reefer?) madness - and quite insane drumming - it's like the stops are being slowly pulled out further and further as the album progresses. The vocals are practically Syd Barrett to a T."

    8. Apple, "Mr. Jones" (An Apple a Day, 1969, Repertoire). From the Magic in the Air website: "Released in February 1969 and recorded in late 1968, Apple's sole LP, An Apple a Day, is a fine mixture of psych pop and psychedelic, heavy R&B under the direction of staff producer Caleb Quaye. Quaye toughened the group's pop sound which resulted in two fine singles which preceded the LP's release: the mainstream 'Let's Take A Trip Down the Rhine' (October 1968) and 'Doctor Rock' (December 1968). The B side to the latter was 'The Otherside.' which has the honor of being hailed as a psychedelic classic."

    9. Bodast, "Mr. Jones" (Spectral Nether Street, RPM). From the Cherry Red Records website: "In 1968 from the ashes of psycho favourites Tomorrow and the first incarnation of Deep Purple (Roundabout) grew Bodast, formed by Steve Howe. Bobby Clarke Woodman and Dave Curtis. RPM presents the complete recordings of the group who bridged that difficult period between the psycho pop of 1967 and the prog/heavy rock of 1970, displaying elements from both ends of the musical scale."

    10. Argosy, "Mr Boyd" (1969 single, Congress). From Wikipedia: "Prior to joining Supertramp, Roger Hodgson recorded a single in 1969 under the name Argosy. The sole single, 'Mr. Boyd' b/w 'Imagine,' was issued on the DJM (U.K.) and Congress (U.S.) record labels, and remains quite rare and sought after. Musically, it's a bit more pop and slightly psychedelic compared to his work with Supertramp, but it's instantly recognizable as being Hodgson. Other musicians on the record were Caleb Quaye, guitar; Nigel Olsson, drums; and Reginald Dwight (better known as Elton John), piano."

    11. The Sweet, "Mr. McGallagher" (First Recordings 1968-1971, 2002, Repertoire). From All-Music Guide: "Repertoire raided the vaults not only of Fontana and Parlophone, Sweet's first two labels, but also visited some less-familiar directions as well. (It includes) all four original singles, a mixed bag that ran from the unadulterated pop of 'Lollipop Man' and 'Slow Motion' to the convincing harder rock of 'The Juicer.'"

    12. Episode Six, "Mr. Universe" (The Roots of Deep Purple: Episode Six, 1994, Collectables). From All Music Guide: "Most famous for including bassist Roger Glover and singer Ian Gillan before they joined Deep Purple, Episode Six managed to release no less than nine British singles between 1966 and 1969 without coming close to a hit record or establishing a solid identity. In 1967, they began to fuse pop and psychedelia with reasonably impressive results, especially the single 'I Can See Through You' (written by Glover), one of the finest British psychedelic obscurities."

    tuesdays_Children.jpg13. Tuesday's Children, "Mr. Kipling" (Strange Light From The East, 2007, Rev-Ola) From Shindig Magazine: "Tuesday's Children (who would morph into one of the early prog rock era's better acts, Czar, in 1969) were a group from North London, their most famous member being Phil Cordell. They cut six singles for four labels, all deserving of chart action, all of which unceremoniously flopped. This is their legacy, an 18-track anthology of varying styles (including an aborted advertising song for Mr. Kipling cakes!)."

    14. The Kult, "Mister Number One" (1969 single). From the Twisted Perceptions blog: "Here is another outstanding group that only released one 45 RPM single. This is truly a psychedelic rock masterpiece."

    15. Blossom Toes, "Mister Watchmaker" (We Are Ever So Clean, Sunbeam). From Wikipedia: "The band's debut album, We Are Ever So Clean, is a classic example of quintessentially English psychedelia. On release, it was presented in the UK music magazine Melody Maker as 'Giorgio Gomelsky's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' Although not a major commercial success, tracks such as 'What On Earth' or 'Look At Me, I'm You' have helped give the album something of a cult period status as it is unearthed by successive generations of '60s retro fans. It was recently voted Number 40 in Record Collector's list of the '100 Greatest Psychedelic Records.'"

    16. The Pretty Things, "Mr. Evasion" (S.F. Sorrow, 2003, Snapper). "Mr. Evasion" was a bonus track included in a 2003 reissue of the Pretty Things' 1968 album, S.F. Sorrow. From Wikipedia: "One of the first rock concept albums, S.F. Sorrow was based on a short story by singer-guitarist Phil May. The album is structured as a song cycle, telling the story of the main character, Sebastian F. Sorrow, from birth through love, war, tragedy, madness, and the disillusionment of old age. The album is now generally acknowledged as having been an influence on The Who's Pete Townshend in his writing of Tommy (1969)."

    -

    From the Beachwood jukebox to Marfa Public Radio, we have the playlists you need to be a better citizen of the Rock and Roll Nation.

    Posted by Don at 12:41 AM | Permalink

    May 10, 2008

    Beachwood Ethics Statement

    The Beachwood Media Company finds itself in several ethical conundra, or rather, the potential appearance of ethical conundra, so I thought I should post this disclosure statement.

    1. The Beachwood Media Company strongly desires significant investment. Discussion with potential investors include fairly obvious individuals including those who have various political connections both locally and nationally. The Beachwood has never allowed - and never will allow - these business discussions to influence its editorial content.

    To allay concerns, however, we hereby announce we would like individuals of the libertarian, conservative, Republican, Democratic, liberal, Green, socialist, communist, fascist and anarchic variety to invest equally in order to eliminate suspicion.

    2. The Beachwood Reporter sometimes links to websites and authors whom it would like to seduce into business partnerships due to the quality of their work. The links, however, are given out only due to merit. In fact, the BR has such a commitment to combat blogrolling that our blogroll is well-hidden, rarely updated, and exists without reciprocal requests on our part.

    3. Due to the bootstrap nature of this venture, Steve Rhodes tends to know the identities of Beachwood members who make donations to the company. Steve Rhodes feels uncomfortable about this and would rather not know. Contributors who are in the business are given no favor.

    To allay concerns, Steve Rhodes would love to have a business partner who handles the money.

    4. Steve Rhodes is now also blogging for NBC5. This comes with no obligation to favor NBC5 either there or at the Beachwood. (second item)

    5. Steve Rhodes appears frequently on Chicago Tonight and The Week in Review, as well as other television and radio shows. He also occasionally gives interviews to print publications. Appearing on these shows offers no immunity from Rhodes's occasional criticism, nor results in Rhodes's occasional praise.

    6. Steve Rhodes is a Carol Marin fan. He often links to her Sun-Times column, appears at times on her Chicago Tonight panels, and now is an NBC5 colleague of sorts. Still, Carol Marin gets no immunity, and Rhodes has even dared to disagree with her views at times, though he has been slightly scared when doing so because she usually has it right.

    7. The Beachwood Reporter solicits and accepts advertising. There is no connection between advertising and editorial, and Steve Rhodes would love nothing more than a business partner who can shield him from all sides of that part of the operation. Additionally, the Beachwood reserves the right to deny advertising for reasons including taste and integrity.

    8. The Beachwood only occasionally solicits and publishes comments. The Beachwood believes that comments should be moderated to prevent smears, bad taste, hidden agendas and quality control failures from making their way onto the site. The Beachwood does not have time to moderate comments, though, so comments are accepted via our Tipline and Contact forms, as well as personal e-mail. In most cases, comments must be accompanied by real, full names to be considered for publication. Exceptions occur at the discretion of the Beachwood, but mainly involve folks who could face retribution if outed.

    9. The Beachwood only occasionally publishes stories using pseudonyms for author names, again to control for quality and accountability. Exceptions occur at the discretion of the Beachwood, but mainly involve folks who could face retribution if outed.

    10. The tone of this statement is not meant to convey a frivolous attitude toward ethics. To the contrary, ethics in the media is a primary concern of The Beachwood Media Company and has been a life-long interest of Steve Rhodes. It's just his way of addressing concerns that may arise with readers moving forward. Please don't hesitate to send feedback and suggestions to Rhodes at srhodes@beachwoodreporter.com.

    Posted by Lou at 03:44 PM | Permalink

    The Weekend Desk Report

    We'll be taking a lovely nap this weekend while our minions take care of the hard work.

    Market Update
    Oil prices surges to another record high this week despite an unexpected drop in consumption. Officials point out that recent changes in a key coalition could lead to serious shortages in the marketplace.

    Junta Burning Love
    Officials in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar pledged to continue their hard work making disaster relief as complex and bewildering as possible this weekend. No vacations for these guys.

    Hot and Bothered
    Let's not discriminate here, folks. Even the mediocre ones like a little warming every now and then.

    Magic Bus
    Chicago Transit Authority officials this week announced an ambitious slate of changes on a number of heavily-trafficked routes. Plans include bus-only lanes, interactive bus-tracker screens, pre-paid fare kiosks and free community bicycles. Not satisfied with this minor revolution, CTA chief Ron Huberman also promises drop-down masks for the next time your train catches fire, free rides for high school and college seniors, and magical buses that run on Vienna Beef. Oh, and everybody's getting a pony.

    Timing is Everything
    By the way, be sure to celebrate National Train Day. If you dare.

    If It Ain't Broke...
    And finally this week, duh.

    Posted by Natasha at 08:49 AM | Permalink

    May 09, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    I'm sorry, I've got to take one more day to try to get some business done. This is the first time in more than two years that I've skipped a column two days in a row. Hey, I write more often than our highly paid newspaper columnists and I certainly put more effort into what I do than some of those who seem to spend no more than 15 minutes turning out drivel of less quality than your average single blog post. Make a list of those who qualify!

    At any rate, if you look to the right you'll see what's new today. --->>>>>>

    And I'll try to catch up with the wealth of material in the papers these last two days with posts at Division Street later today and through the weekend.

    Natasha Julius will be here tomorrow with her always-superb Weekend Desk Report. I'll be back in this space on Monday.

    *

    Don't forget: We accept advertising and memberships, some levels of which involve me coming to your house and washing your car.

    The [Thursday] Papers
    No Papers column today. Which means you should take this opportunity to read every other story on the site, plus every single story in our archives, and click on everything you see.

    Also, the Dance Movie Blogathon over at Ferdy on Films is going great guns. Today's offerings include Rod Heath looking at "The Dance That's Stayin' Alive," and I recommend it highly.

    Plus, everything I said about Indiana yesterday still goes.

    The [Wednesday] Papers
    The news out of Northwest Indiana this morning: More cable boxes coming to Cal City and Lake County still counting votes. UPDATE: Votes finally in.

    The race nonetheless, has been called by most media outlets for Hillary Clinton. But her campaign is on life-support.

    Rudy Can't Fail
    "In March, [Gary Mayor Rudy] Clay predicted the race would come down to Gary, telling the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times that tonight on CNN, 'They are going to point at Indiana and say Hillary Clinton is leading by one point but Gary ain't come in yet.'"

    Dollars and Change
    Rudy Clay, Obama's man in Gary.

    Chicago, Indiana
    "At 7 p.m. on Election Night in the Post-Tribune newsroom, reporters knew what to expect from Lake County voting officials. For years, probably decades, Lake County has been notorious for dragging its heels in announcing voter results to local media outlets," Jerry Davitch writes.

    "And I'm sure Lake County voting officials, and politicians, could care less that media outlets like the P-T have to scramble during every election to get the most updated numbers before rushing to print that night.

    "Well, well, well, finally Lake County has been caught with its fat-cat hands in the cookie jar of chronic ineptitude - and alleged corruption once again - under the white-hot glare of the national spotlight."

    Clay Feet
    Rescinded debate invitation that Obama didn't want.

    Regional Differences
    "Lake County - fondly referred to by its denizens simply as 'the Region' - is where I was born and raised," Mike DeBonis wrote early this morning on the website of the Washington City Paper. "And it's pretty much where I got my conception of what urban politics is all about.

    "If you've been watching cable TV, you've heard all about how Gary mayor Rudy Clay has promised to deliver big numbers to Barack Obama, for instance by busing high school kids to early-voting sites. What's not mentioned as much is that he's the county Democratic chairman, which means he essentially controls the election apparatus. He, have no doubt, is responsible for the fact that the vote has not been announced on time."

    -

    "But there's no doubt that election shenanigans aren't too far in the Region's past. For a reminder, just look at Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion upholding the Indiana Voter ID act last week. For part of his reasoning, he cites the 2003 mayoral primary in East Chicago, which is just west of Gary, as proof "that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election."

    -

    DeBonis also takes then national media to task for misunderstanding the demographics of the region, and live-blogs Clay "making an utter fool of himself on CNN."

    CampaignGate
    "This presidential election makes me feel like one of those blow-up dolls in the Chicago White Sox locker room: A symbol of frustration with a piece of lumber stuck in its posterior."
    - Phil Kadner, Southtown Star

    Indiana Jones
    "Danica Patrick was only ninth fastest Tuesday among drivers practicing for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but she is already brimming with confidence," the Indianapolis Star reports.

    "Asked if she could win the pole Saturday for the 92nd Indianapolis 500, which would be a first for a woman at the Speedway, Patrick responded with unbridled optimism.

    "'Absolutely,' she said, beaming."

    If she doesn't have the fastest time, she'll appeal to the superdelegates.

    Monorail
    More of a Shelbyville kind of thing.

    Bitter, Clingy
    Feral cat coalition forming in Elkhart.

    Bizarro Indiana
    "Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Indiana primary Tuesday night, running up a victory that gave her bragging rights to being a powerhouse in a Republican-leaning state," the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports.

    "'This confirms her resurrection from the political dead,' said Charles Dunn, political scientist at Regent University. 'It doesn't mean she will get the nomination, but she has a head of steam' heading into the final primaries in West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota."

    Clingy, Bitter
    "A minor three-car accident on State Road 334 near Kissel Road held up traffic Thursday, April 24, for about 30 minutes during rush hour," the Zionsville Times-Sentinel reports.

    With photograph.

    Indiana Wants Me
    Lord, I can't go back there.
    *

    The Indiana Pant
    Close fitting thigh and wider flare from the knee.

    Hoosier City
    The, um, Indianapolis skyline.

    Does Indiana Suck?
    Is it boring or are there things to see?

    The Beachwood Tip Line: It depends.

    Posted by Lou at 08:12 AM | Permalink

    The Periodical Table

    A weekly (usually) look at the magazines laying around Beachwood HQ.

    Antifood
    I'm sure the story of Grant Achatz, the internationally renown chef of Alinea in Lincoln Park who was struck with tongue cancer a few years ago, isn't new to many people in Chicago. But frankly, I never really paid attention. Perhaps that's why I found the New Yorker's account this week so fascinating, though I think even those who already know the story will enjoy this piece.

    Besides the obviously tragic irony of a chef losing his sense of taste, this is a story about the sense of taste itself, as well as the school of molecular gastronomists he belongs to that turns cooking into a science fair project for erstwhile art students.

    bacon2.jpgI find this kind of cheffery and consumption decadent and even immoral - there are no limits to the luxuries we can gloriously bathe ourselves as we refine our tastes evermore while huge swaths of the world go hungry - but read for yourself and see if you are offended somehow by dehydrated bacon wrapped in apple leather swinging from a metal contraption.

    "The meal was almost comically elaborate," D.T. Max writes of his visit to Alinea in March, "involving twenty-four courses and costing three hundred an seventy-five dollars, with wine. The food starts off at the savory end of the spectrum, and slowly turns sweeter, concluding with coffee, in the form of crystallized candy. Most items could be eaten in a bite or two, but the procession took four and a half hours. I had liquefied caramel popcorn in a shot glass, and a bean dish that came on a tray with a pillow full of nutmeg-scented air. The plate of beans was placed atop the pillow, forcing the aroma out. I sampled a "honey bush tea foam cascading over vanilla-scented brioche pudding," in the words of the young man who brought it. There was also a dish centering on a cranberry that had been pureed and then re-formed into its original shape. The berry was then prepared on a device called the Antigriddle, which Achatz had helped design. The Antigriddle froze the bottom of the berry but left the top soft.

    "A few dishes were merely fanciful; most were fanciful and delicious. My favorite was called Hot Potato, Cold Potato. A ball of potato, simmered in clarified butter and covered by a black truffle, had been skewered on a steel pin, along with a cube of Parmesan, butter, and chives. I slid these items off the needle, allowing them to fall into a bowl of cold potato soup. Then, doing as the server instructed, I tipped my head back and downed a soup that was two temperatures at once."

    The story also says something about Chicago and, perhaps, its bumbled rush to be seen as sophisticated and worthy.

    "Chicago prides itself on being a city with more daring restaurants than Manhattan - the city also has Moto, an Asian-inflected outpost of molecular gastronomy - and the home-town response was unequivocal. The Tribune exalted the very dishes that the Times suggested were contrived or showy, declaring the P. B. & J. opener 'comfort food fit for the Museum of Contemporary Art.'"

    Which suggests the locals didn't have the guts to say the whole thing is ridiculous for fear of coming off like hayseeds. But whatever. (To be fair, Gourmet did name Alinea the best restaurant in America in 1997 2006.)

    At any rate, the tale of Achatz's cancer is the primary one; at one point he was faced with having his tongue cut out or dying. I won't give away how it turned out.

    Image Disorder
    dove2.jpgSpeaking of immoral . . . as long as you're reading the Achatz story, stick around for "Pixel Perfect", the tale of Pascal Dangin, a master digital photo retoucher whose work has surely contributed to the body-image woes and obsessions of millions of women - and the men who perceive them - worldwide.

    The story breaks some news: "I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual 'real women' in their undergarments," Lauren Collins writes. "It turned out that it was a Dangin job. 'Do you know how much retouching was on that?' he asked. 'But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone's skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.'"

    (Dove denies the photos were inappropriately retouched.)

    Little Green Footballs
    * "You might be surprised to know that the National Football League has had an environmental director for 15 years," the New York Times Sunday Magazine reports. (Second item).

    * "For two-thirds of its history, Homo sapiens lived exclusively in Africa," the Economist reports. "The early human population was tiny . . . came close to extinction several times . . . at one point . . . as few as 2,000 people to carry humanity forward."

    * "Fighting Killer Worms."

    Posted by Lou at 07:05 AM | Permalink

    Is It Possible To Pray Without Ceasing?

    . . . AS COMMANDED BY THE BIBLE?

    Regardless of what religious beliefs anyone in your Talk Show audience may have, there is one common denominator: Prayer. All people of faith are commanded to pray. Moslems are to bow toward Mecca several times a day. Hindus pray to a wide array of "gods" and Christians are commanded to "pray without ceasing."

    But what does it really mean to "pray without ceasing"? Is it even possible?

    Answering these questions and more is Theologian/Ethicist Robert Benson, author of the book, In Constant Prayer.

    prayer.jpgDuring your interview, Robert Benson elaborates on the ancient practice of fixed-hour prayer, a structure for our lives where we can live in continuous awareness of God's presence and reality. This classic discipline of praying at fixed times during the day and night has transformed the lives of millions around the world. Benson teaches what the apostle Paul meant when he encouraged the Thessalonian church to "pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

    HOW CAN YOUR AUDIENCE MY BENEFIT
    * Helps re-discover the practice rooted in the early church. Teaches how to pray as the apostles did.
    * Practical and accessible in tone and content.
    * An upside-down look at prayer. It's not supposed to be about us. It's about God.
    * Shows how every person has time to pray at fixed times during the day.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    Robert Benson is an acclaimed author and retreat leader who writes and speaks on the art and the practicality of living a more contemplative and prayerful life in the modern world. He has published more than a dozen books about the search for and the discovery of the sacred in the midst of our everyday lives.

    His works include Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Living Prayer and Digging In: Tending to Life in Your Own Backyard. His writing ranges from books on prayer and spirituality to travel and gardening to baseball and the Rule of St. Benedict.

    Benson's writing has been critically acclaimed in publications from the New York Times to USA Today to Spirituality & Health to The American Benedictine Review. He is an alumnus of the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a member of The Friends of Silence & of the Poor, and was recently named a Living Spiritual Teacher by SpiritualityAndPractice.com.

    Posted by Lou at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    May 08, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    No Papers column today. Which means you should take this opportunity to read every other story on the site, plus every single story in our archives, and click on everything you see.

    Also, the Dance Movie Blogathon over at Ferdy on Films is going great guns. Today's offerings include Rod Heath looking at "The Dance That's Stayin' Alive," and I recommend it highly.

    Plus, everything I said about Indiana yesterday still goes.

    The [Wednesday] Papers
    The news out of Northwest Indiana this morning: More cable boxes coming to Cal City and Lake County still counting votes. UPDATE: Votes finally in.

    The race nonetheless, has been called by most media outlets for Hillary Clinton. But her campaign is on life-support.

    Rudy Can't Fail
    "In March, [Gary Mayor Rudy] Clay predicted the race would come down to Gary, telling the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times that tonight on CNN, 'They are going to point at Indiana and say Hillary Clinton is leading by one point but Gary ain't come in yet.'"

    Dollars and Change
    Rudy Clay, Obama's man in Gary.

    Chicago, Indiana
    "At 7 p.m. on Election Night in the Post-Tribune newsroom, reporters knew what to expect from Lake County voting officials. For years, probably decades, Lake County has been notorious for dragging its heels in announcing voter results to local media outlets," Jerry Davitch writes.

    "And I'm sure Lake County voting officials, and politicians, could care less that media outlets like the P-T have to scramble during every election to get the most updated numbers before rushing to print that night.

    "Well, well, well, finally Lake County has been caught with its fat-cat hands in the cookie jar of chronic ineptitude - and alleged corruption once again - under the white-hot glare of the national spotlight."

    Clay Feet
    Rescinded debate invitation that Obama didn't want.

    Regional Differences
    "Lake County - fondly referred to by its denizens simply as 'the Region' - is where I was born and raised," Mike DeBonis wrote early this morning on the website of the Washington City Paper. "And it's pretty much where I got my conception of what urban politics is all about.

    "If you've been watching cable TV, you've heard all about how Gary mayor Rudy Clay has promised to deliver big numbers to Barack Obama, for instance by busing high school kids to early-voting sites. What's not mentioned as much is that he's the county Democratic chairman, which means he essentially controls the election apparatus. He, have no doubt, is responsible for the fact that the vote has not been announced on time."

    -

    "But there's no doubt that election shenanigans aren't too far in the Region's past. For a reminder, just look at Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion upholding the Indiana Voter ID act last week. For part of his reasoning, he cites the 2003 mayoral primary in East Chicago, which is just west of Gary, as proof "that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election."

    -

    DeBonis also takes then national media to task for misunderstanding the demographics of the region, and live-blogs Clay "making an utter fool of himself on CNN."

    CampaignGate
    "This presidential election makes me feel like one of those blow-up dolls in the Chicago White Sox locker room: A symbol of frustration with a piece of lumber stuck in its posterior."
    - Phil Kadner, Southtown Star

    Indiana Jones
    "Danica Patrick was only ninth fastest Tuesday among drivers practicing for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but she is already brimming with confidence," the Indianapolis Star reports.

    "Asked if she could win the pole Saturday for the 92nd Indianapolis 500, which would be a first for a woman at the Speedway, Patrick responded with unbridled optimism.

    "'Absolutely,' she said, beaming."

    If she doesn't have the fastest time, she'll appeal to the superdelegates.

    Monorail
    More of a Shelbyville kind of thing.

    Bitter, Clingy
    Feral cat coalition forming in Elkhart.

    Bizarro Indiana
    "Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Indiana primary Tuesday night, running up a victory that gave her bragging rights to being a powerhouse in a Republican-leaning state," the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports.

    "'This confirms her resurrection from the political dead,' said Charles Dunn, political scientist at Regent University. 'It doesn't mean she will get the nomination, but she has a head of steam' heading into the final primaries in West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota."

    Clingy, Bitter
    "A minor three-car accident on State Road 334 near Kissel Road held up traffic Thursday, April 24, for about 30 minutes during rush hour," the Zionsville Times-Sentinel reports.

    With photograph.

    Indiana Wants Me
    Lord, I can't go back there.

    The Indiana Pant
    Close fitting thigh and wider flare from the knee.

    Hoosier City
    The, um, Indianapolis skyline.

    Does Indiana Suck?
    Is it boring or are there things to see?

    The Beachwood Tip Line: It depends.

    Posted by Lou at 08:28 AM | Permalink

    Stanley Cup 2008: Still Going On

    Previously:
    * Pytel's Picks: Round One
    * Pytel's Picks: Round Two

    Round 3: The Conference Finals
    First, here's a brief recap of Round 2 where a lot of my predictions bit the dust:

    The Western Conference was at one time referred to as the Campbell Conference, so I guess it's fitting that neither San Jose's Brian Campbell nor the Campbell Conference are still alive in the playoffs. The Dallas Stars shocked many observers by taking the first three games of their quarterfinal series against the San Jose Sharks, including winning the first two games in San Jose. They seemed to cruise through the series, although two games later they found their series lead had narrowed to 3-2, and it did take the Stars four overtimes to finish off the Sharks in Game 6, though the Stars dictated a lot of the play.

    Detroit manhandled Colorado, and got some impressive offensive contributions from a guy nicknamed "the Mule," Johan Franzen. Franzen netted nine goals in a four-game sweep. Franzen is also the second leading scorer in the playoffs, and that's a problem for opposing teams because he's not even considered one of the top three players on the team. Detroit was the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs and they've looked every bit as tough as that ranking. Somewhere in the back the skeptics are wondering how long Detroit can keep, myself included, but it would be hard to argue with the results thus far.

    In the East, it'll be an all-Pennsylvania tilt as both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers advanced. Philadelphia, similar to Dallas, outworked their opponent, the heavily favored Montreal Canadiens. R.J. Umberger scored early and often against Montreal and finished the five-game series with eight goals. Philadelphia will again be David vs. Goliath when they take on the favored Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Pittsburgh seemed to click on all cylinders in outlasting the New York Rangers in five games. The Penguins have looked rather solid in between the pipes, where Marc Andre Fleury has silenced a lot of his critics with stellar saves and solid netminding. As deadly as the Pittsburgh offensive weapons are with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marian Hossa, it's the goaltending and commitment to defense that has made the Penguins especially deadly so far.

    Predictions:
    #1 Detroit Red Wings vs. # 5 Dallas Stars
    Dallas is led by captain Brendan Morrow, who played like a beast against the Sharks. Look for more of the same against Detroit if the Stars want to keep their Cinderella playoff story going. Since Detroit is getting contributions from multiple players, Dallas is going to need to be aggressive and look to hit everything and anything in an attempt to take away Detroit's finesse. Dallas goaltender Marty Turco has never won at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, so now is as good a time as any for Turco to put that streak to sleep. The hardest task for Dallas may be matching Detroit's depth. The Stars will need to get more contributions out of Brad Richards and Mike Modano if they hope to pull off the upset. Detroit's goaltender Chris Osgood has been effective largely because Detroit is defensively adept at keeping the opposition on the perimeter. Look for Morrow to be a pest in front of the net and create a little havoc for Detroit's defensemen

    Pick: Dallas ekes it out in 7

    #2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #6 Philadelphia Flyers
    The battle for Pennsylvania should be entertaining. Pittsburgh has the explosive offensive players that get all the press but Philadelphia has quietly gone about shutting down explosive offensive weapons in the first two rounds defeating Washington and Montreal. This series could come down to special teams and how well each team executes on the power play. Both teams have had good power plays in the post-season, but Pittsburgh's been more effective on the penalty kill, giving up only four goals in 38 attempts (PK rate: 89.5%). If both teams remain disciplined, than it could be a toss-up. In the regular season, the Flyers took five of eight, including one win in Pittsburgh. If Philly can steal one of the first two games, then an upset could be in the making. It's Pittsburgh's series to lose and I have to give them the slight edge because of their abundance of offensive talent.

    Pick: Pittsburgh in 7

    Posted by Lou at 08:11 AM | Permalink

    May 07, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    The news out of Northwest Indiana this morning: More cable boxes coming to Cal City and Lake County still counting votes. UPDATE: Votes finally in.

    The race nonetheless, has been called by most media outlets for Hillary Clinton. But her campaign is on life-support.

    Rudy Can't Fail
    "In March, [Gary Mayor Rudy] Clay predicted the race would come down to Gary, telling the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times that tonight on CNN, 'They are going to point at Indiana and say Hillary Clinton is leading by one point but Gary ain't come in yet.'"

    Dollars and Change
    Rudy Clay, Obama's man in Gary.

    Chicago, Indiana
    "At 7 p.m. on Election Night in the Post-Tribune newsroom, reporters knew what to expect from Lake County voting officials. For years, probably decades, Lake County has been notorious for dragging its heels in announcing voter results to local media outlets," Jerry Davitch writes.

    "And I'm sure Lake County voting officials, and politicians, could care less that media outlets like the P-T have to scramble during every election to get the most updated numbers before rushing to print that night.

    "Well, well, well, finally Lake County has been caught with its fat-cat hands in the cookie jar of chronic ineptitude - and alleged corruption once again - under the white-hot glare of the national spotlight."

    Clay Feet
    Rescinded debate invitation that Obama didn't want.

    Regional Differences
    "Lake County - fondly referred to by its denizens simply as 'the Region' - is where I was born and raised," Mike DeBonis wrote early this morning on the website of the Washington City Paper. "And it's pretty much where I got my conception of what urban politics is all about.

    "If you've been watching cable TV, you've heard all about how Gary mayor Rudy Clay has promised to deliver big numbers to Barack Obama, for instance by busing high school kids to early-voting sites. What's not mentioned as much is that he's the county Democratic chairman, which means he essentially controls the election apparatus. He, have no doubt, is responsible for the fact that the vote has not been announced on time."

    -

    "But there's no doubt that election shenanigans aren't too far in the Region's past. For a reminder, just look at Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion upholding the Indiana Voter ID act last week. For part of his reasoning, he cites the 2003 mayoral primary in East Chicago, which is just west of Gary, as proof "that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election."

    -

    DeBonis also takes then national media to task for misunderstanding the demographics of the region, and live-blogs Clay "making an utter fool of himself on CNN."

    CampaignGate
    "This presidential election makes me feel like one of those blow-up dolls in the Chicago White Sox locker room: A symbol of frustration with a piece of lumber stuck in its posterior."
    - Phil Kadner, Southtown Star

    Indiana Jones
    "Danica Patrick was only ninth fastest Tuesday among drivers practicing for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but she is already brimming with confidence," the Indianapolis Star reports.

    "Asked if she could win the pole Saturday for the 92nd Indianapolis 500, which would be a first for a woman at the Speedway, Patrick responded with unbridled optimism.

    "'Absolutely,' she said, beaming."

    If she doesn't have the fastest time, she'll appeal to the superdelegates.

    Monorail
    More of a Shelbyville kind of thing.

    Bitter, Clingy
    Feral cat coalition forming in Elkhart.

    Bizarro Indiana
    "Hillary Rodham Clinton won the Indiana primary Tuesday night, running up a victory that gave her bragging rights to being a powerhouse in a Republican-leaning state," the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports.

    "'This confirms her resurrection from the political dead,' said Charles Dunn, political scientist at Regent University. 'It doesn't mean she will get the nomination, but she has a head of steam' heading into the final primaries in West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota."

    Clingy, Bitter
    "A minor three-car accident on State Road 334 near Kissel Road held up traffic Thursday, April 24, for about 30 minutes during rush hour," the Zionsville Times-Sentinel reports.

    With photograph.

    Indiana Wants Me
    Lord, I can't go back there.

    The Indiana Pant
    Close fitting thigh and wider flare from the knee.

    Hoosier City
    The, um, Indianapolis skyline.

    Does Indiana Suck?
    Is it boring or are there things to see?

    The Beachwood Tip Line: It depends.

    Posted by Lou at 07:27 AM | Permalink

    $10/Gallon Gas Edging Closer

    Oil Futures Hit Record High $120/Barrel

    $10/gallon gas is edging closer to a gas pump near you.

    With oil prices now above the $120/barrel and still rising, American consumers should continue to expect prices at the pump to continue rising.

    Some cities are even seeing signs sporting $4 per gallon prices. If analysts are correct in predicting $200/barrel within two to three years, basic math tells us that could translate to gasoline well above $5 per gallon. One analyst, Dan Dorfman of the New York Sun, says gas could even reach $10/gallon!

    gas2.jpgOne of the many questions that remain to be answered is how much the American consumer can absorb with respect to their gasoline budgets. The threshold is nearer than it's been for sure but when will anxiety and expense translate into lifestyle changes? Will the falling dollar make rising gas prices even more significant? Will the cost of vacations this summer alter family decisions when it comes to modes of transportation? What will the impact of gasoline above $5/gallon have beyond fuel budgets?

    Craig Smith, CEO of Swiss America, is available for interviews to discuss rising gas prices and what the American consumer can both do and expect.

    ABOUT YOUR AUTHOR/SPEAKER
    Craig R. Smith is the CEO of Swiss America Trading Corporation, one of the largest and most respected investment firms in the U.S. Smith is an author, commentator and economic analyst who instantly engages audiences with his common-sense perspective on national and global economic trends. Over the past two decades he has been interviewed on over 1,500 radio and TV programs including: FOX News, CNN, CNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, TNT, CBN, TBN, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Newsweek and World Net Daily. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

    THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE MAY BE HELPFUL WITH SHOW PREP:

    THE NEW YORK SUN/ April 28, 2008
    Gasoline May Soon Cost a Sawbuck
    Big New Shock at the Pump Forecast by Two Analysts
    BY DAN DORFMAN - Special to the Sun

    Get ready for another economic shock of major proportions - a virtual doubling of prices at the gas pump to as much as $10 a gallon.

    That's the message from a couple of analytical energy industry trackers, both of whom, based on the surging oil prices, see considerably more pain at the pump than most drivers realize.

    Gasoline nationally is in an accelerated upswing, having jumped to $3.58 a gallon from $3.50 in just the past week. In some parts of the country, including New York City and the West Coast, gas is already sporting a price tag above $4 a gallon. There was a pray-in at a Chevron station in San Francisco on Friday led by a minister asking God for cheaper gas, and an Arco gas station in San Mateo, Calif., has already raised its price to a sky-high $4.62.

    In Manhattan, at a Mobil gas station at York Avenue and East 61st Street, premium gas is now $4.03 a gallon. Two days ago, it was $3.96. Why such a high price? "Blame the people at STOPEC (he meant OPEC) and the oil companies," an attendant there told me.

    These increases are taking place before the all-important summer driving season, signaling even higher prices ahead.

    That's also the outlook of the Automobile Association of America. "As long as the price of crude oil stays above $100 a barrel, drivers will be forced to pay more and more at the gas pump," a AAA spokesman, Troy Green, said.

    Oil recently hit an all-time high of nearly $120 a barrel, more than double its early 2007 price of about $50 a barrel. It closed Friday at $118.52.

    The forecasts calling for a jump to between $7 and $10 a gallon are based on the view that the price of crude is on its way to $200 in two to three years.

    Translating this price into dollars and cents at the gas pump, one of our forecasters, the chairman of Houston-based Dune Energy, Alan Gaines, sees gas rising to $7-$8 a gallon. The other, a commodities tracker at Weiss Research in Jupiter, Fla., Sean Brodrick, projects a range of $8 to $10 a gallon.

    While $7-$10 a gallon would be ground-breaking in America, these prices would not be trendsetting internationally. For example, European drivers are already shelling out $9 a gallon (which includes a $2-a-gallon tax).

    Canadians are also being hit with rising gas prices. They are paying the American-dollar equivalent of $4.92 a gallon, and they're being told to brace themselves for prices above $5.65 a gallon this summer.

    Early last year, with a barrel of oil trading in the low $50s and gasoline nationally selling in a range of $2.30 to $2.50 a gallon, Mr. Gaines -- in an impressive display of crystal ball gazing -- accurately predicted oil was $100-bound and that gasoline would follow suit by reaching $4 a gallon.

    His latest prediction of $200 oil is open to question, since it would undoubtedly create considerable global economic distress. Further, just about every energy expert I talk to cautions me to expect a sizable pullback in oil prices, maybe to between $50 and $70 a barrel, especially if there's a global economic slowdown.

    While Mr. Gaines thinks there could be a temporary decline in the oil price, he's convinced an overall uptrend is unstoppable. In fact, he thinks his $200 forecast could be conservative, and that perhaps $250 could be reached. His reasoning: a combination of shrinking supply and increasing demand, especially from China, India, and America.

    Mr. Brodrick's $200 oil forecast is largely predicated on a combination of pretty flat supply and rip-roaring demand. Other key catalysts include surging demand in China and India, where auto sales are booming, and major supply disruptions in Nigeria and also in Mexico, our second-largest source of oil imports, where oil production has fallen off a cliff.

    More factors include the ever-present danger of additional supply disruptions from volatile countries in the Middle East that are not our allies, and the unwillingness of SUV-loving Americans to trim their unquenchable thirst for foreign oil. Likewise, for the first time, emerging markets this year will use more oil than America.

    To Mr. Brodrick, it all adds up to an ongoing energy bull market. His favorite plays are the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund ; United States Natural Gas Fund LP; Apache Corp.; Occidental Petroleum; Anadarko Petroleum, and Schlumberger.

    URL: http://www2.nysun.com/article/75363 © 2008 The New York Sun

    To schedule an interview with CRAIG SMITH, fill out the Do-It-Yourself Booking Form.

    Posted by Lou at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    May 06, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "With their bats in a deep slump," the Sun-Times explains on its front page today, "the White Sox needed a 'slump-buster' - a gimmick baseball players use to change their fortunes. Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said players have 'burned bats, kissed bats, slept with their bats, blessed their bats, you name it.' This time, the Sox placed bats around two blow-up sex dolls with a sign that read 'You've got to push.'"

    Let's just be clear about what a slump-buster is:

    - Via Urban Dictionary.

    - Slump Buster Trucker Hat.

    - Slump Buster Store.

    That's Ozzie
    Ozzie Guillen defended his players saying "Everyone in the clubhouse, 100 percent of the people in the clubhouse, they are 18 years old."

    Including the manager.

    10-1
    Those are the odds that the governor will actually deliver on his $150 million anti-violence package. After all, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

    The Daley Show
    What is there left to say about Richard M. Daley? The ironies of his complaints about a new coalition of those opposed to moving the Children's Museum to Grant Park are so blindingly obvious that I can't even work up any enthusiasm about pointing them out.

    Hope
    Long live the Spindle?

    CeaseFire Power
    Alex Kotlowitz wrote a mostly glowing cover story about Gary Slutkin and his CeaseFire project for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, but the word I've been hearing is that it's effectiveness - and money management - is much more suspect than the great media that seems to follow it around.

    I'm waiting (hoping) for my friend Tracy Jake Siska to weigh in over at Chicago Justice, but in the meantime, he's written a compelling post about the violence in our fair city. Among the highlights:

    "I would love to say that we have free access to crime statistics to determine how this seemingly outrageous rash of violence is different then we have experienced over the last several years."

    -

    "The situation that the citizens of Chicago and its police department find themselves in is not unique."

    -

    "What we must guard against is using our police force for missions they cannot possible complete. The CPD was never designed to prevent violence; the CPD is a reactionary tool and it is beyond their capabilities to be a preventive force as currently designed."

    -

    "The criminal justice system in Chicago and Cook County is wholly incapable of dealing with these sociological problems. Our response to these crimes must be centered on long-term sociological cures and not political expediencies. Without redress the continued joblessness and lack of education will only fester and motivate replication of these crimes for years to come."

    -

    "Even if the CPD is able to repress violence, they are not curing any social realities that are the root cause. We are continually stuck in a circle of violence and repression caused by gangs and our criminal justice system. Policy makers need to have the courage and change course from the doomed one we cannot find the strength to turn off of."

    Kid List
    Where would the Children's Museum rank among Chicago's best underground children's attractions? Find out!

    Mighty Mice
    "WGN didn't lead off last night's 9 p.m. newscast with more Clinton/Obama drama," Chicagoist notes. "Instead, they started the newscast with Jackie Bange's discovery of an advanced rodent civilization in Terminal 1, Concourse C of O'Hare Airport."

    Bye Bye Benson
    The Cedric Benson Drunkenness Metric.

    Of course, if he was as good as Lance Briggs . . .

    *

    Hey, these guys are all 18 years old.

    Where Have You Gone P.J. Soles?
    rock.jpg

    Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis will be on hand this Friday at the Music Box for a special presentation of Roger Corman's Rock 'n' Roll High School. Mary Woronov, who played the principal, Miss Togar, will also be there. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., movie starts at 8. You can buy tickets here.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Have some kicks.


    Posted by Lou at 09:54 AM | Permalink

    USA Motivation Needed

    Time to Fire Up the Troops

    Gas prices are up. Food prices are up. Morale is down. As Americans worry about what the future might bring, how are our mindsets? Do we have the strength of will for promising times ahead or will we choose to ride the roller coaster? Kevin Elko insists that positive energy will cure most ills if we let it do the work.

    When you talk to someone you don't know, do you give him or her words of encouragement or do you let your stress and strain have repercussions? After hanging up the phone, is the person on the other end feeling more positive or less positive about their day? America needs a pep talk and it needs to start with every single American. Kevin Elko is available to talk to your listeners about letting their character influence other Americans into encouraging Uncle Sam to smile.

    Uncle Sam Sad.jpgThe nation's morale is at what many consider to be an all-time low. The economy is in a recession that is driving millions of Americans into states of depression - about a possible depression around the corner. They are getting hit from all sides. The price of gasoline and food are soaring - even the price of rice! The equity in their homes is falling. The cost of health care is skyrocketing. They are getting laid off. It's ugly out there and most of today's politicians seem to have no true solutions. Americans are confused and don't know where to turn for answers.

    Elko, who has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis on Sports Counseling, knows his stuff. He delivers a solid message that Americans desperately need to hear.

    Kevin is called in to motivate athletes and business leaders to compete at their peak performance - nothing less is acceptable. His past and present professional and big-time college football team clients include the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Miami Hurricanes.

    Elko has a collection of Super Bowl championship rings and national championship college football rings that attest to how effective his pep talks are. In 2008, he added a Final Four ring to his collection.

    Fortune 500 companies also invite Elko to address their people; again to perform at their peak levels. These companies want results and Elko delivers. No wonder they keep requesting that he come back, again and again. He is a regular speaker for such companies as Travelers, Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and Tyson Foods.

    Kevin Elko is the author of the life-changing book, THE PEP TALK, co-authored with New York Times bestselling author, Robert L. Shook (Thomas Nelson, Inc., April 29, 2008 release).

    Your audience will want you to have Kevin back as a repeat guest, too. But to do that, you need to book him the first time. The ball's in your court!

    ABOUT KEVIN ELKO . . .
    Kevin Elko is a human dynamo who makes a hefty seven-figure income giving pep talks.

    He addresses more than 200 audiences a year, ranging from professional sports teams to the biggest firms on Wall Street.

    Elko's job is to fire up the troops - get them ready to go head on against the fiercest, strongest and smartest competition on the face of this planet.

    Think about it. It takes a special kind of person to inspire a 300-pound NFL lineman who makes a seven- or eight-figure annual salary.

    Kevin Elko has been doing this on Sunday afternoons for the past ten years. He motivates high-level Wall Street executives, who generate extraordinary incomes.

    Elko, who has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis on Sports Counseling, delivers a solid message that Americans desperately need to hear.

    Kevin is frequently called in to motivate athletes and business leaders to compete at their peak performance - nothing less is acceptable. His past and present professional and big-time college football team clients include the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, LSU Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Miami Hurricanes.

    Elko has a collection of Super Bowl championship rings and national championship college football rings final four that attest to how effective his pep talks are. In 2008, he added a Final Four ring to his collection.

    Fortune 500 companies also invite Elko to address their people; again to perform at their peak levels. These companies want results and Elko delivers. No wonder they keep requesting that he come back, again and again. He is a regular speaker for such companies as Travelers, Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and Tyson Foods.

    Kevin Elko is the author of the life-changing book, THE PEP TALK, co-authored with New York Times bestselling author, Robert L. Shook (Thomas Nelson, Inc., April 29, 2008 release).

    ABOUT THE BOOK . . .
    THE PEP TALK: A Football Story about the Business of Winning
    By Kevin Elko and Robert L. Shook

    The Pep Talk is a sports story - with solid business applications - about an underdog football team defeating a formidable opponent. Typically, a novelette of this type peaks at the end of the game, but it's in the pep talk where the real story begins.

    A stranger convinces the coach of a team with a 24-game losing streak to allow him to give a pep talk before they go up against a winning team. The underdog team is victorious because of the influence of this stranger. The pep talk and the actual game are intriguing, but the real story begins 29 years later when the coach, suffering from a brain tumor, discovers the stranger had prophesized specific events that occurred in the ensuing game. Is there a logical explanation? Is there a spiritual explanation? The answers to these questions capture the reader's attention to the very end.

    Author is a regular on ESPN and the book has been endorsed by Larry Coker (U. of Miami), Nick Saban (head coach of Dolphins), Bill Callahan (Cornhuskers), Tom Donahoe (Buffalo Bills), Emmitt Smith (All-time NFL Leading Rusher), and others.

    Posted by Lou at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    Reviewing the Reviews

    You'd think a book about a year in the life of Walter Payton High School might merit a cover story in the Tribune book review, but no, it's not only relegated inside the flimsy little journal of nothingness, it's relegated to the second half of a review that pairs it with a book about life in a Los Angeles school.

    I understand the thinking, but I also understand the lack of imagination; a book inside Payton High - whether good or bad - offers an opportunity to check the clips about clout and the theories about magnet schools to fill out a larger picture. Sometimes, in other words, a book review can be - and should be - more than just a book review.

    Instead, we merely have another missed opportunity because two books share a broad (and familiar) method (let's spend a year inside a school!) but precious little else, resulting in the forced transition of "In Ridiculous/Hilarious/Terrible/Cool: A Year in an American High School, [Elisha] Cooper sets up camp in a lauded Chicago school but shows that even it has distinct pressures."

    Even a high-performing college prep school has pressures? The kids at Payton aren't all that different than the kids at an L.A. ghetto school after all!

    *

    "Payton is anything but a typical American high school," reviewer Carolyn Alessio writes. "Choices abound - students can take a seminar in Zulu on Thursdays; others direct their own plays; a prominent author visits."

    The questions schools like this raise in a system like Chicago's are significant. It would be nice to know if the author addresses them or not - and in either case, the reviewer should. For example, what does it mean for neighborhood schools that lose their most talented and committed students to the magnets? And what sense of community is lost?

    "Emily is a soccer star and superb student from Hyde Park; Daniel, president of his class, commutes from the South Side each morning; Diana lives and works in Little Village; and Aisha, a transfer student recently relocated from Cairo, lives in a Lincoln Park condominium."

    Doesn't this just widen the gaps we want to close? I've never been a fan of magnet schools for just this reason. Strong neighborhood schools are a linchpin to community, and they should all offer interesting programs, if not necessarily Zulu.

    In other words, is Payton High a symbol of success in the Chicago public school system, or a symbol of a two-class system? (I wonder if the L.A. school featured in the other book has lost its best students to magnet schools . . . )

    History Lesson
    We all should know by now that the history many of us are taught in school is, basically, propaganda perpetuating national myths. But just what do any of us really know about some of the most basic facts of our country? Tony Horwitz asked himself this question as he went back to study America's founding, and what he found managed to surprise him - and should us.

    It's not just that, as Andrew Ferguson recounts in his New York Times review, "The Pilgrims probably didn't eat turkey or pumpkin pie at a Thanksgiving dinner that they didn't consider a thanksgiving and to which they didn't invite the natives, who were in any case weakened with disease, which made them vulnerable to looting," though we should get that through our heads. It's that "the Pilgrims . . . weren't the first American settlers fleeing religious persecution; that was the Huguenots. The Pilgrims' arrival in America was, on balance, a calamity, which is why, nowadays, even Plymoutheans mark an annual 'Day of Mourning.'"

    Horwitz loses me, though, when he writes that "I could chase after facts across early America, uncover hidden or forgotten 'truths,' explode fantasies about the country's founding. But I'd failed to appreciate why these myths persisted. People needed them."

    No. People needed - and still need - the truth. After all, to offer just one small example, we're in a presidential campaign that once again venerates John F. Kennedy's presidency even though the record shows it to be a disaster, not to mention the peculiar dynamic that excuses JFK's torrid White House womanizing while castigating the small potatoes indiscretion of a more media-exposed president, as well as a campaign that has revisited Ronald Reagan's mythical presidency, which hid a dark reality that doomed millions of Americans to poverty, despair, and in some cases, death.

    Myths kill. It's the truth that sets us free, and it's truth that should be the stuff that history is made of.

    Clinton Time
    One of my favorite writers has long been Carol Felsenthal, the best profilist I know. Felsenthal's work for Chicago magazine, including absolutely compelling examinations of Rod Blagojevich and Donald Rumsfeld, is superb, as is her biography of Katharine Graham. So it was with great anticipation that I awaited her most recent project, Clinton In Exile, a profile of the post-presidency of Bill Clinton.

    I'm sad to say to report that it isn't up to Felsenthal's usual standards - especially because I know how hard she worked on it. As much as I would like to out of loyalty to Felsenthal, it's hard to disagree with Janet Maslin's review in the New York Times that panned the book for its "gossip and malice, above and beyond the biographer's legitimate concerns. Packaged with a particularly hangdog picture of the ex-president on its cover, this book explores loaded subjects like Mr. Clinton's last-minute pardons, imperiled legacy, flashy new billionaire friends and business connections. It's a book with chapter headings like 'It's Monica, Stupid!' and 'Philanderer in Chief.'"

    I found the most fascinating sections to be those describing Clinton's depression and absolute sense of loss, and loss of purpose, after he left the White House, as well as the story, such as it is, behind his charitable work and the Clinton Global Initiative. Clinton's torrid speaking schedule, resistance to sleep and insatiable need for human contact also shine through, but the kind of psychological portrait Felsenthal is usually so good at drawing never quite emerges, and the rehash of what we already know and obsession over Clinton's rumored post-presidential sex life smack of a tiring and unsubstantiated hit job.

    (Slate called the book "often catty, occasionally malicious, and overly reliant on unnamed sources.")

    I can tell you that Felsenthal is much, much better than this, and I can only speculate that the book was published ahead of its time in order to get the most salacious goods out there during the current campaign.

    Carol is one of the best, and I look forward to what's next. This one, though, just didn't work for me.

    Quantum Leap
    In May 1968, Arthur Hailey's Airport led the New York Times's best-seller list for fiction. This week, by comparison, it's Hold Tight, in which "The aftermath of a high school kid's suicide rocks a New Jersey suburb."

    On the non-fiction side, Haim Ginott's Between Parent and Child led the list in '68; David Sheff's Beautiful Boy, about a father struggling with his son's meth addiction, leads the list this week.


    Posted by Lou at 12:37 AM | Permalink

    Sixteen Flags Under Chicago

    With each successive proposal, the folks behind moving the Chicago Children's Museum to Grant Park push it further underground in an effort to satisfy opponents who say the new building would violate court decrees designed to keep the park free and clear. We here at Beachwood Labs got to wondering where just such a museum would rank among underground children's attractions in the city, such as:

    1. The Coal Mine at the Museum of Science & Industry.

    2. The Streets and San public tour.

    3. Al Capone's real vault.

    4. The assets Michael Jordan hid from Juanita during their divorce.

    5. The meeting place for the Daley Resistance Front.

    6. Sammy Sosa's corked bat collection.

    7. The secret lab where they grow Blago's hair.

    8. Meigs Field.

    9. Sam Zell's soul.

    10. Daley's bunker.

    11. The Oprah Resistance Meetup.

    12. The city council's spine.

    13. Where reform goes to die.

    14. Mancow Muller's career.

    15. The hopes and dreams of the working- and middle-class.

    16. Ozzie Guillen's sanity.

    *

    - Eric Emery, Marty Gangler, Rick Kaempfer, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Lou at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    May 05, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    Programming Note: I'm scheduled to appear on the NBC5 morning news tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6:15 a.m. to discuss the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. If you're awake - or just coming in - please tune in. Feel free to send comments to Division Street.

    1. Victoria, Texas, is getting an indie record shop.

    2. A 5-year-old Does Lou Piniella.

    3. Is this any less crazy than anything Jeremiah Wright ever said?

    4. The Dance Movie Blogathon is off to a rousing start over at Ferdy on Films.

    5. A faithful Beachwood reader writes:

    "As I type this, the fifth most popular story on the Trib site is titled 'Increased Tension Surfaces'. What do you think this story is about?

    "A) The presidential race in Indiana
    "B) The state budget negotiations in Springfield
    "C) Wrangling in the Chicago City Council over the Children's Museum
    "D) Horse racing and the death of Eight Belles

    "It's really a great headline; they ought to make a point of using it every few weeks or so. But if you want the answer, click here."

    6. The lien was lifted in March 2007, but when Deputy Gov. Louanner Peters joined the Blagojevich administration in 2003, she owed $21,548 in federal taxes, the Sun-Times reports.

    Normally it would be hard to know just what to make of this without knowing the full circumstances, but consider:

    "In the mid-1990s, Peters chaired the Washington Convention Authority in Washington, D.C. But she faced criticism in a government audit for allegedly misusing the agency's credit card to buy personal items, for which she later reimbursed the authority, according to published reports."

    I wonder where I could get hired if I had a federal tax lien plus the abuse of my employers' credit card on my resume.

    The Sun-Times notes that deputy chief of staff Steven Guerra also has a ($33,954) federal tax lien, and state transportation official Calvin Giles, a former state representative, owes more than $80,000 in election fines.

    7. "The promises to maintain Wrigley as a stand-alone business unit and preserve its civic and charitable involvement are included in the contract terms of the merger agreement, which was filed this week with Securities and Exchange Commission," the Tribune reports. "Yet there is no specific language in the contract that calls for Mars to maintain Wrigley's headquarters in Chicago."

    Bob Reed of BusinessWeek Chicago sees darkness ahead:

    "Shut down the headquarters of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. (WWY). Convert the landmark Wrigley Building into condos. Tear the Wrigley name off the Chicago Cubs' ballpark. Close the corporate wallet to local nonprofits. Fire a whole lot of people. This is the future many Chicagoans saw on learning that after 117 years here, the Wrigley family's company had been sold to Mars for $23 billion, to create the world's biggest candy producer. Holy cow.

    "Don't worry, Bill Wrigley assured one and all. The company's executive chairman and great-grandson of its founder insisted that the only thing that is changing is the owners; everything else would remain as it has long been . . . I'll wager a king-size Milky Way bar that in a few years, Chicago won't recognize the old Wrigley as it is downgraded into just another regional office of a giant corporation based someplace else. Why the skepticism? For one, the deal itself will force this outcome. For another, previous takeovers of age-old companies by out-of-towners have all ended this way."

    8. The Wrigley Building as the new Children's Museum!

    9. Speaking of the Children's Museum, check out this Google map of where the board of directors so anxious to serve "all of Chicago" live.

    10. Via Blair Kamin:

    "Speaking of the Children's Museum battle, the Union League Club of Chicago on Tuesday will hold a forum featuring two principals in the debate: Jennifer Farrington, the museum's president and chief executive officer, and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who has defied Mayor Richard M. Daley in opposing the museum's plan. The public is welcome. The discussion will start at 8 a.m. at the club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd. You can sign up by calling 312-435-5946. Cost is $20 per person. The event begins with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. The club promises that adjournment will occur no later than 9:30 a.m. The club has not taken a position on the controversy."

    11. Barack Obama reiterated over the weekend that Jeremiah Wright is not the person he thought he was for the last 20 years and asked voters not to hold his failed judgement against him. "This is one element of a much larger track record," he said.

    For example, Tony Rezko isn't the person he thought he was either.

    12. You'll never guess who is playing for European League power Maccabi Tel Aviv.

    13. Beachwood Baseball:

    * "Foul Balls is one of our most favorite Chicago sports blogs in the world, but Fornelli's take on the Sox at AOL is a little premature," our very own Ricky O'Donnell writes in The White Sox Report.

    * "Is Lou Piniella stupid?" our very own Marty Gangler writes in The Cub Factor. "Your closer is the third-best reliever on the team and you keep trotting out Alfonso Soriano when you should be trying to get rid of him. And those things aren't too smart."

    14. From Beachwood reader Brian Alves:

    "In your Obama-Wright comments you seem to be neglecting a very obvious issue which is that believing in conspiracies is very American. Millions of people now seem to be believe that vaccinations cause retardation and their attitude and agitation threatens to undue decades of progress against disease. Not to mention the millions that think that the govt was involved in the murder of JFK (an idea seemingly held only by whites - blacks really don't care), that we never landed on the moon, and on and on. It would be nice to see a candidate run for President and renounce all religion with regard to its intersection with government but you and I will not live long enough to see that day."

    15. De-Spindled.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Undercover.

    Posted by Lou at 09:54 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    I knew I had definitely left the country when I turned on the TV and didn't just find cricket, I found cricket in the sand. One of the British networks was televising some sort of special cricket exhibition on a beach somewhere. The bowlers were firing away at the wickets, the batters were swinging their cool flat bats and the hits were flying . . . until they plunked down unceremoniously in the sand. Guys trudged in, dug the balls out and then tossed them back to the middle of the field. I've seen soccer played on the beach, and touch football, and of course there is volleyball. But cricket?

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor
  • I actually attended the only college in America with an official cricket team. I have watched portions of games - it is just about impossible to watch an entire test (match) - they often lasted all weekend when I was at the 'Ford in the 1980s. I even had a go at writing a story about cricket during my college newspaper days (also just about impossible if one hasn't spent a lot of time learning the lingo). So I might have been the only expatriate sports fan in all of England willing to try and find something to appreciate in the midst of this undeniable sporting silliness.

    Couldn't do it. Then again everyone involved seemed to be having a grand old time and what's the harm in that then?

    The other sporting choice on television that night at a hotel on the outskirts of Heathrow was Everton versus Chelsea in Premier League soccer action. Everyone was very excited about the goings on out on the pitch and Chelsea even scored a goal (Hurrah!) before the intermission, but I couldn't stay awake as the second half wore on. Must have been the jet lag.

    My family wrapped up a long trip to Israel (with a brief stop in London) last week and while sports were entirely peripheral to the journey there were still plenty of, not "highlights" exactly but there were plenty of happenings and therefore plenty of observations.

    * It used to be that I couldn't imagine living outside of the U.S. and away from blanket coverage of our beloved sports scene. I consider myself a soccer fan but the celebration of that game to the exclusion of all others in the couple of European cities I've had the chance to visit would be tough to take long-term.

    But that has all changed in the past, what, 15 years? There is, of course, all the coverage you could ever need of whichever team on the Internet 24 hours a day. And satellite TV systems offer all sorts of sports networks (for a price, of course). Heck, ESPN Europe even televised the NFL draft. There I sat at a little past midnight Jerusalem time early last Sunday as the Bears picked Chris Williams in the first round. This world may have problems, but clearly if I was able to tune into this sort of programming from that far away, well, I take that as a rationale for rampant optimism.

    * In Israel there was almost as much basketball to be found as there was soccer on non-ESPN networks. One night I watched a game involving noted European League power Maccabi Tel Aviv and there was a familiar face. It was Will Bynum, the high-flying (despite standing less than six feet tall) former Crane Tech point guard who couldn't quite stick in the NBA after he completed his college career at Georgia Tech.

    Bynum had been in the news a few months ago when he was arrested in Tel Aviv and charged with hit-and-run after an incident outside a nightclub. At the time I think it was the team's owner who was quoted as saying there was no way Bynum would ever play for Maccabi again. And if he had been convicted it might have ended his basketball career

    But it turned out that Bynum, who was paraded in front of the media in handcuffs and shackles shortly after the arrest, was later completely exonerated. The prosecuting authority in Tel Aviv determined that Bynum was fleeing a fight (a fight that he apparently was losing, badly) when his car made contact with a bystander outside the nightclub. His actions qualified as self defense.

    On the court, Bynum was lighting it up for Maccabi (he would go on to lead his team to the Euro League Final, where they lost to CSKA Moscow a couple days ago). He is still a high flyer who tossed in a spectacular, hanging layup while I was watching. He hit a couple threes and would not be denied the lane, finishing several forays into the paint with perfect passes. I'll bet he'll get another chance or two to stick with the big boys back here in the States.

    * Oh by the way, Maccabi was the club where Naperville product Anthony Parker (Candace's older brother) had huge success (he was a big part of their winning a couple Euro League championships in a row in the middle of this decade). Parker used his tenure there as a springboard to a starting spot with the Toronto Raptors.

    Guess who else plays for Maccabi? Former Bulls lottery bust Marcus Fizer! But he was out with an injury.

    * There was one final event that received all sorts of air time on what I think was the Sky Sports Network throughout my second week away - The World Snooker championships. I didn't think a televised competition could be less dynamic than the World Series of Poker, but the Snooker broadcasts give it a run for the money.

    -

    Jim Coffman shares the love in this space every Monday.

    Posted by Lou at 08:04 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Do we think Lou Piniella is stupid? Hey, he's the one who asked. My answer: I'm not sure. You use your entire 40-man roster over the course of the season and ride the hot players when you can. So that seems pretty smart. But your closer is the third-best reliever on the team and you keep trotting out Alfonso Soriano when you should be trying to get rid of him. And those things aren't too smart. So really, we don't know if you are a grizzled veteran manager or a crazy old stupid coot. Personally, I think Uncle Lou isn't stupid but he doesn't seem to be giving his team the best chance to win.

    *

    Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to both the Brewers and Cardinals, their closest rivals. That's stupid.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs go to Cincinnati to battle Dusty Baker and his flailing Reds for three games, and then come home to host the best team in the National League - the Diamondbacks - for three more. Another bad week and the Cubs will be heading for their stupidest May ever to follow their best April in franchise history.

    The Second Basemen Report: Remember last week when Ronnie Cedeno played four games at second? Well, he didn't get any starts this week. Mark DeRosa got four and Mike Fontenot got two - in part because DeRosa filled in at third for the ailing Aramis Ramirez. Just like Hendry drew it up.

    In former second baseman news, Augie "The O-Dog" Ojeda knocked in six RBIs for the Diamondbacks on Saturday. That's one-fourth of his Cubs career total of 24 in four seasons. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Carlos Zambrano moves to getting angry as the Cubs blew a save and a win for him this week. Carlos doesn't like counting on others and doesn't take it well when they let him down.

    zam_gettingAngry.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Joe Morgan-san is Japanese for douchebag.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 64% sweet, 36% sour. Lou is down eight more points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to a stupid week, a stupid Soriano, and five stupid walks in the stupid first inning of this week's stupid Rich Hill start. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou has had it with you kids. You can drive to Six Flags yourself for all he cares.

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

    Center Stage: Reed Johnson and Felix Pie split the starting centerfield job this week with three games each. But Pie is playing just so he doesn't get rusty and a move has to be made soon. You know, sending down your top prospect because he stinks, just like Hendry drew it up.

    The Cub Factor: Catch up with them all.

    Over/Under: The number of additional games Lou is going to let Kerry Wood blow before he makes Marmol the closer: +/- 2.

    With Apologies To Nena: 99 Years of Cub Losses (99 Jahre von Bengeln Verlusten).

    Mount Lou: Cub Factor forecasters were right on the money last week with the Mount Lou eruption. This immediately sent the forecasting crew to the nearest AM/PM to play the lottery. Lou moves to warning level Orange as even the smallest disturbance may be enough to blow Lou's top. We're talking getting caught in traffic could trigger lava flow. Expect another blast on Wednesday.

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Do you think Lou Piniella is stupid or something? Let Marty know.

    Posted by Lou at 07:26 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    After starting out the season strong, the White Sox have now dropped eight of their last 11 games. This weekend was the low point of the young season, as the Sox lost three consecutive games in Toronto, and can be swept by the Blue Jays tonight.

    So instead of focusing on the negatives, like the abysmal team batting or the abundance of solo home runs, let's talk about something more enjoyable: my trip to Toronto a few years ago.

    I went to see the Sox take on the Blue Jays in Toronto with a few friends in the Summer of 2006. The Sox ended up losing on a walk-off homer in extra innings by Shea Hillenbrand, but the beginning of the game was far more exciting than the end.

    Four of us arrived at the Rogers Centre about an hour before game time. One of our friends, we'll call him Anthony (since that's his name), had to go back to our hotel room, so he was arriving at the game by himself.

    Anthony shows up at the stadium about 15 minutes before the first pitch. He comes dressed in an American flag shirt, carrying a huge American flag on a staff, and holding two signs.

    Now this wasn't just a shirt with a picture of the American flag on it; the shirt was actually the American flag itself. You can only imagine the looks on the security guards' faces when they saw an 18-year old kid dressed like this for a baseball game in Toronto.

    "You can't bring that in," said the security guard to Anthony, pointing to the flag on the staff.

    Anthony willfully obliged. He took the flag off the pole, handed it to the guard, and began to enter the stadium.

    "Wait," said the security guard again. "Let me see those signs."

    "No, it's cool," Anthony told him. "They say 'Go Sox'."

    Now technically, this was true. But Anthony had hoped to sneak into the stadium without the guard seeing the back of his two signs.

    Unfortunately, he was not successful in this endeavor. The guard glanced at the two signs and was completely appalled: the back of one read "Canada Sucks" and the back of the other said "Vernon Wells drinks his own pee." Both were immediately confiscated.

    Let's recap: An unassuming kid shows up alone to a baseball game in Toronto dressed in an American flag shirt, carrying an American flag on a staff, and holding two signs. One sign claims the country he is currently in "sucks," and the other one says the Blue Jays best player recreationally drinks his own urine.

    More than anything, this is why the drinking age in America isn't 18.

    *

    Week in Review: Uh, do we have to? Let's just say these White Sox have seen better days, and hope this little funk doesn't last all season like it did in 2007. The Sox, strangely enough, finished the week 0-5-1.

    Week in Preview: The Sox play three more games against Minnesota, only this time at The Cell. A series against an underwhelming Seattle team ends the week.

    People Are Stupid: OK, so the offense is struggling right now. We get it. But bringing up Jerry Owens isn't the answer. Where's he going to play? There simply isn't an available spot for a 28-year old rookie outfielder who couldn't OPS over .700 in the majors if his life depended on it. Someone here actually suggested the Sox should insert Owens in the lineup over Carlos Quentin, which nearly made my head explode. Benching the league leader in home runs? Yeah, that's probably not the best way to fix a limp offense.

    Pick It Up, Paulie: The real cause of the Sox offensive woes: the two big boppers in the middle aren't hitting. With Quentin and Joe Crede bashing at a record rate, the Sox should be scoring more. But when Jim Thome is hitting .212 and Paul Konerko is hitting .233, a lot of runners are being stranded on base. Maybe Ozzie will consider flipping the two pairs of hitters, but the Sox won't be doing anything this year if Thome and Paulie don't turn it around.

    Off Base: Foul Balls is one of our most favorite Chicago sports blogs in the world, but Fornelli's take on the Sox at AOL is a little premature. At 14-15, the season certainly isn't over. And who's to say that Danks and Floyd aren't for real? The biggest question mark heading into the season was the starting pitching, and it's been phenomenal so far. Once the hits start coming, this team can go on a run very easily.

    Was OC On That Boat?: Orlando Cabrera may have lost a job because he partied too much, but at least he never got pepper sprayed.

    Question of the Week: Which number will be higher at season's end, the number of Carlos Quentin homers or the number of times Quentin gets beaned? Current standings: home runs 8, hit by pitch 7.

    That's Ozzie: "This is a long season, and you're going to go through tough times. The thing is how we're going to handle it. And I didn't like the way we handled it the last couple days. I see a lot of guys with long faces and worries. We're not going to win 162 games, and (Sunday) I saw a lot more enthusiasm."

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the White Sox Report staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined if the Sox keep losing, the White Sox Report will begin to heavily rely on making fun of the Cubs in order to fill space.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    -

    RIcky O'Donnell is the proud proprietor of Tremendous Upside Potential.

    Posted by Lou at 06:58 AM | Permalink

    RockNotes: Toxic Fuse vs. American Graffiti

    1. Just thought you'd like to know: Victoria, Texas, is getting an indie record shop. People there hope Victoria is ready for it. I don't really know too much about Victoria . . . just what I can Google. And according to that, it's a city of 60,000 known as the "South Texas Crossroads" and a "cultural hub" for the "Golden Crescent" part of the state down by Corpus Christi.

    I'm wondering what kind of culture they have down there, though, because the article about it in The Victoria Advocate kind of makes it sound like an indie record shop is about as foreign to the good people of the Coastal Bend as an arctic yak. It's called the Rock 'n' Roll Candy Store, and, "ready or not," here it comes.

    victoria_TX.jpgAccording to the story, "'Is Victoria ready for a place like this? Well, we won't know until we try,' owner Chris Ordonez, who goes by the name Toxic Fuse, said. 'But I do know that Victoria needs more culture that's not mainstream.'"

    You have to admire someone in South Texas named Toxic Fuse who isn't talking about blowing up a federal building. And, really, kudos to Fuse for trying to sell records by the Clash and Sex Pistols in Victoria, probably best known as a Catholic Church hotbed and the home town of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Fuse says it's more about hooking up with the half-dozen like-minded indie punks in town, rather than making money. That's probably a good thing for him.

    2. When Americans go to Britain, they flock to stuffy, ancient places like Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. But when Brits come here, do they waste their time at the Washington Monument or Mount Rushmore? Nope. Because they're way cooler than us, most of them go to Memphis.

    As in Graceland, rock 'n' roll, Sun Studios Memphis. Apparently, they call Memphis the Liverpool of America because of its place in music history. When the city hosted the Beale Street Music Festival last weekend, more than 2,000 Britons attended, says the Times of London, and 100,000 of the rock-obsessed Limeys are expected to make their way there over the course of this year. It really says something about us that our closest allies think Elvis is one of the few things that really matter about our culture.

    The Times says there's a big resurgence in the U.K. for '50s and '60s nostalgia. Isn't this about the fifth time that's happened since 1974? Let's face it, this keeps happening because everything since then has sucked. The '50s and '60s were the last time anyone ever thought life was getting better, and we still long for that feeling.

    Anyway, the Brits see big parallels between Memphis and Liverpool:

    "Baby boomers provide the bulk of the British visitors to Memphis as they explore the well-spring of their youth in a city that is not only the home of rock 'n' roll," says the Times, "but is central to the development of blues and soul, with its Stax and Sun record labels nurturing hitmakers such as Muddy Waters, BB King, Otis Redding and Booker T and the MG's."

    Brits always dug the blues, the paper says, because they are "a naturally downbeat nation."

    wild_one.jpg3. When did rock 'n' roll's depiction in the movies really begin to bottom out? It was American Graffiti, says an article in the Montreal Gazette, which I have to say, I totally agree with. Up until then, rock mostly was a feature-length documentary thing, signifying its currency. But when George Lucas used it as a symbol for lost innocence in 1973, the game was up and rock officially became quaint.

    "Some even contend that the alliance between rock and film began to show worrying signs of morbid nostalgia ages ago," says the Gazette. "American Graffiti longed prematurely for a bygone era with its soundtrack of wall-to-wall '50s hits."

    Graffiti was followed five years later by Grease and then The Big Chill, which "were really a kind of obituary for rock and film." (Uhh, what about Robert Stigwood's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? Still the worst.) All the authenticity and danger of rock 'n' roll in movies were obliterated by those ultra-mainstream American films, and, in my opinion, has only been somewhat rectified by an occasional British/Irish film like Once and perhaps The Commitments.

    According to Haidee Wasson, a film professor at Concordia University in Montreal, the standard for dangerous rock 'n' roll attitude in the movies was established very early by Marlon Brando's brooding biker Johnny Strabler in The Wild One and never really equaled. The only really good Elvis movie, Jailhouse Rock, came close, especially the King's retort to a society dame asking him his opinion of atonality in jazz: "Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about."

    Touche, rock man.

    -

    Comment from Robert Pruter:

    The Times of London goofed. Muddy Waters never recorded for Stax or Sun, or recorded singles for them that were leased to Chess; nor did he record in their studios, so there is no way that Muddy Waters was nurtured by those labels.

    Funny, how reporters just throw out names and hope they are correct.

    -

    Send Don your comments. Please use a real, full name to be considered for publication.

    -

    Catch up with all the RockNotes you need to keep you tuned in, man.

    Posted by Don at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: My Silver Soul The Sea

    MY SILVER SOUL THE SEA

    My soul the sea: sucking
    my mind from my skull
    like a clam
    from its shell, draining

    my sweet, slow
    juice.

    Sitting in the rain
    at the Planetarium. Falling from the sky:
    the saltless sea. On the left, a festival

    of architecture, organic sculpture
    alight. Mist aglow, the sky giving its ritual
    Spring performance, mirrored

    in the torguoise sea. Teal, taupe, agate, shale...
    Gods of Gitchigumi blowing
    in my ear. Chaos: the dynamo hum
    of the neighborhoods a distant sea-shell aria.
    Even Olympian ghosts now loom.

    Skyline of neon mausoleums. Spiked shoulders,
    hog-ghost compendium, glass slicing the northeast
    gale.

    My lake, my soul, the sea. The west sun dying
    in pink and purple, moon-birth shimmering
    skull-white. Soul: drift away,

    drift, drift away.

    Here on the sea
    I can breathe, and rain makes Men O' War
    of the eastern clouds, sleek and slow upon the
    horizon.

    The slow sea gleans me,
    cleans my bitter

    blood,

    the glittering
    grey gravity

    sucking me,

    sucking me,

    slowly

    back to the
    hood.

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Lou at 12:32 AM | Permalink

    May 03, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Weekend Desk guru Natasha Julius is on assignment in the Ozarks looking for daredevils. The "B" team will keep watch on these important stories for you.

    Math Test
    Kentucky Derby favorite Big Brown will attempt to do today what no horse has done since 1929: win from the 20th post. The other horses have urged Big Brown to withdraw, saying "the math just isn't there, and we need to unify this field."

    Old Kentucky Home
    With Kentucky holding its primary in three weeks, Chelsea Clinton returns to the state to attend the Derby today. She reportedly will call on suspending the jockey tax for the summer.

    Beachwood at the Derby
    Cowboy Cal is the key.

    Audio version.

    Post Position
    Twenty-eight percent of Americans actually approve of the job George W. Bush is doing, proving the country will never be "unified."

    Remedial Education
    The president is expected to sign a student loan bill sent to him on Friday. On Monday, he'll decide which school he'll be going to.

    Jockey Shorts
    * Wouldn't it be cool if Danica Patrick raced in the Kentucky Derby too?
    * You might not know this, but the losing jockeys in the Derby become plantation slaves. The winner gets to work in the house.
    * While at the Derby, Chelsea Clinton will reportedly call for suspending the fertilizer tax for the summer.

    Mail Pail
    On the occasion of the 30th birthday of spam, I'd like to thank Nigeria for making it all possible.

    Primary Colors
    Dear Guam: I found you through contacts in the United States and was told you are a reputable, trustworthy person. Due to volatile political circumstances in my home country, I've come into 2,025 electoral votes. But I can't retrieve them unless I find an investor to guarantee a down payment on notes that will mature in the fall. If you could just send me four electoral votes of your own, I can unlock my frozen account and become the leader of the free world. In return, I promise to ignore you for four years.

    PC Wars
    Cuba approved the sale of home computers today, apparently impressed with Microsoft's ability to dictate the market with a crappy product.

    Stick Picks
    Now that Mars has bought Wrigley and Arby's has bought Wendy's, we'll turn our attention back to United, which is still trying to merge. One more beer and it will ask the CTA to come home with it.

    Children's Museum
    * Miley Cyrus punished by politician.
    * Lindsay Lohan falsely portrayed as favoring ignition locks for drunk drivers.
    * Madonna's adolescence enters fifth decade.

    -

    Catch up with the week's Papers!

    -

    Visit Division Street!

    -

    Behold the Internet.

    Posted by Lou at 09:48 AM | Permalink

    May 02, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    I'll get things started here this morning and then head over to Division Street to catch up with all the shenanigans our scurrilous public servants are currently perpetrating.

    Air Blago
    "The way Ali Ata described it, the waiting room in the North Side office of Antoin 'Tony' Rezko seemed as busy as an airport terminal," the Tribune reports.

    Apparently if you paid Rezko a fee you could get bumped up to first class.

    Early Departure
    "We have a chance to do what we want to do, and that's impeach the governor of Illinois," says state Sen. Mike Jacobs of East Moline. He's a Democrat.

    Presidential Mentor I
    "I need a pay raise. I need a pay raise."

    Presidential Mentor II
    "This stiff-arm by Jones & Co. to Illinois citizens not only protects his pal Gov. Rod Blagojevich from a post-November recall effort, but also insulates Cook County Board President Todd Stroger."

    Rat Patrol
    "New Design Takes Museum Even Further Underground."

    Journey to the Center of the Earth exhibit planned.

    Higher Education
    "Northwestern has conferred hundreds of honorary degrees during the last half-century," the Tribune notes in a story about the university rescinding its offer of such a degree to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    I have a feeling that - like honorary street names in Chicago - we can find worse than Wright on that list.

    Here's an idea: Make people earn their degrees the old-fashioned way.

    Mount Lou
    Erupted yesterday just like our very own Marty Gangler predicted in this week's Cub Factor.

    Crash Landing
    The Rod Blagojevich Death Pool.

    97 Percent
    Our estimate of the chances Blagojevich is indicted this year.

    Mary Contrary
    "The top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator in the Midwest resigned Thursday amid internal fights over dioxin contamination near Dow Chemical Co.'s world headquarters in Michigan, according to a published report," AP reports.

    "Mary Gade, regional administrator of EPA Region 5, told the Chicago Tribune she resigned as regional administrator of EPA Region 5 after two top EPA officials stripped her of her powers and told her to quit or be fired by June 1.

    "'There is no question this is about Dow,' Gade told the paper for a story on its Web site. 'I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I'm proud of what we did."

    *

    In 1997, Governing magazine named Gade one of its Public Officials of the Year.

    This Is Our Country
    "Lynndie England, of leashed-prisoner photo fame, says all her troubles stem from a man - in this case Corporal Charles Graner, her lover, and a man officials refused to let speak to Morris," Marilyn Ferdinand writes in her review of Errol Morris's Standard Operating Procedure, which opens tonight. "Graner seems to have been the ringleader for most of the staged photos of prisoner humiliation. England did what he said out of love and at other times, out of persistent coercion. She was, she said, unwilling to stand by one of the Iraqis who was forced to masturbate and only did so when Graner gave her little option. England also didn't notice that Megan Ambuhl, who was present during many such incidents, was cropped out of the photos being taken by her secret lover and current husband - Charles Graner. Morris restores the original framing of one photo to show us the reality beyond the edges of the image.

    "This perspective is exactly what underlies Morris' purposes in making this film - to show us that the reality we assume these photos show us is only partial. This presentation is, I think, meant to lead us to question what we think we know about Abu Ghraib and demand more answers to nagging questions about how widespread and systemic these abuses were (and are). He intends to show us that these "monsters" are human and, in fact, pawns who were nearly powerless to refuse to abuse these prisoners and predisposed by living in a hell hole in a war zone to dehumanize themselves and the detainees in their care.

    "I completely agree with Morris' intentions with this film, but my gut reaction to what I saw was that with the exception of Jeremy Sivits - a classic wrong place, wrong time case - these people were guilty and self-justifying."

    Ferdy's interview with Morris is here.

    That's Stella!
    Just for the record, Stella Foster came out this week in favor of child abuse ("parents should be given back the power to discipline their kids and teens without being afraid they will call the police and have the parents arrested for no good reason"), racial profiling ("In most cases, I am sure there is a gun or two somewhere in the car or on someone"), and the new Trump building ("the shine is just blinding").

    Horsy Sauce
    I still haven't come up with a good punch line about Arby's buying Wendy's. But I know there's one out there.

    Tout Sheet
    Take this to the betting window on Saturday.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Wheel it.

    Posted by Lou at 09:59 AM | Permalink

    24 Hours With TVGN

    A guilty pleasure stew.

    *

    7:30 a.m.: Ab Coaster

    8 a.m.: Reclaim

    8:30 a.m.: Sheer Cover

    9 a.m.: NutriSystem

    9:30 a.m.: Build Wealth Quickly

    10 a.m.: Look-a-Like

    11 a.m.: Celebrity Fit Club

    Noon: Hollywood 411

    1 p.m.: Celebrity Says

    1:30 p.m.: TV Candy

    2 p.m.: Idol Tonight

    3 p.m.: Hollywood on Set

    4 p.m.: Big Movie Premiere: Iron Man

    5 p.m.: Celebrity Says

    5:30 p.m.: Look-a-Like

    6 p.m.: Jimmy Kimmel Live

    7 p.m.: Idol Wrap

    8 p.m.: Hollywood 411

    9 p.m.: Idol Wrap

    10 p.m.: Big Movie Premiere: Iron Man

    11 p.m.: Hollywood 411

    Midnight: Idol Wrap

    1 a.m.: 6-Week Body Makeover

    1:30 a.m.: Murad Skin

    2 a.m.: Youthology

    2:30 a.m.: Leg Magic

    3 a.m.: TV Guide Network

    4:30 a.m.: Bare Minerals

    5 a.m.: Total Gym 8

    5:30 a.m.: Dual Action Cleanser

    6 a.m.: NutriSystem

    6:30 a.m.: Foreclosure Secrets

    7 a.m.: TV Guide Network

    -

    See also:

    * 24 Hours With QVC
    * 24 Hours With Tru TV
    * 24 Hours With Current TV
    * 24 Hours With The Military Channel

    Posted by Lou at 07:35 AM | Permalink

    Beachwood At The Derby

    Our staff of derelicts and drunks brings you the odds and comments you need to make the Kentucky Derby pay off for you this weekend. Odds via the Daily Racing Form.

    *

    Big Brown, 3-1: Don't believe the hype. There's no way a UPS truck can outclass a field like this.

    Colonel John, 4-1: Too M*A*S*H-y.

    Pyro, 6-1: Deep down we like this firestarter, but in the end too self-destructive.

    Gayego, 15-1: A fun name to scream while drunk. Put this fella in your trifecta box.

    Z Fortune, 15-1: Yes, we like. Robby Albarado is on top and we wanna party with him.

    Monba, 15-1: This horse runs a dull race. Too middle-of-the-pack.

    Tale of Ekati, 15-1: Too literary.

    Eight Belles, 20-1: Too Southern. If he was Eight Balls, then maybe.

    Cool Coal Man, 20-1: Too self-conscious, like faux hipsters playing Johnny Cash on the jukebox.

    Cowboy Cal, 20-1: Put Cal in your trifecta box with Gayego and Z Fortune. Put Gayego and Z Fortune in your exacta box. Bet Cowboy Cal to win, and make place bets on all three. Scale your betting amounts accordingly.

    Visionaire, 20-1: We like this horse, but not quite enough. Maybe a stray show bet.

    Bob Black Jack, 20-1: A sprinter that could battle Visionaire for third.

    Smooth Air, 20-1: Another nice middle-of-the-pack horse that could surprise. Take a gander in the paddock.

    Court Vision, 20-1: All the best names will finish in the middle.

    Denis of Cork, 20-1: Too jokey, and we're not impressed that his only loss was the Illinois Derby. The Illinois Derby?

    Recapturetheglory, 20-1: He won the Illinois Derby. So.

    Adriano, 30-1: Too precious.

    Anak Nakal, 30-1: Trained by Nick "Barry" Zito. Not a good year for Zitos.

    Z Humor, 30-1: No.

    Big Truck, 50-1: Will beat out Z Humor to avoid last place finish.


    Posted by Lou at 06:42 AM | Permalink

    Lost Feminist Finds Eternity

    Kitty Foth-Regner's life has been an amazing journey! She was a feminist high-tech copywriter, but leading a spiritually empty, God-free life. And then her beloved Christian mother developed a fatal illness.

    Kitty determined to put her journalism degree to work to determine if there might really be an afterlife - and if so, to see which of the world's religions could give her assurance of the life hereafter that her mother would soon depart to, and the destination that might await all of us.

    Feeling compelled to leave no stone unturned, she took a serious look at world beliefs from Hinduism and Buddhism to the Bah’ai faith and New Age. After more than a year of exhaustive research, only one was left standing: biblical Christianity.

    Kitty accepted Christ as her personal Lord and Savior and now has deep peace about her mother's and her own final destination.

    During your interview with Kitty to discuss her book, “Heaven Without Her: A Desperate Daughter’'s Search for the Heart of Her Mother'’s Faith,” and her personal life, you and your audience will see first-hand why both the book and her interviews are referred to as poignant, insightful, genuine and deep.

    Her heart has been transformed so that one of her greatest joys is sharing the love of God with people who are facing the inevitable passing from this life, and also trying to help the loved ones they have left behind. She volunteers at a nursing home one day a week for just this purpose! She also does a monthly Hymn Sing at two small nursing homes, where she types up the lyrics to 15 or 16 hymns and then they sing along with CDs by people like Tennessee Ernie Ford and Jim Nabors between Scripture readings and Gospel presentations!

    Kitty's book and interviews provide fresh insights into a range of truths capable of moving even the hardest of hearts –including:

    * The varying points of views and feelings of the terminal, their friends, families and others.
    * The surprising historical, scientific and prophetic accuracy of the Bible.
    * The life-transforming power of the gospel.
    * Transcending confidence that the best is yet to come.

    ABOUT KITTY FOTH-REGNER
    Kitty Foth-Regner is a freelance copywriter, co-author of Hip Ideas for Hyper Dogs and author of The Cure. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she has written extensively on subjects ranging from diagnostic imaging to industrial automation. She lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with her husband and assorted pets.

    Suggested interview questions for Kitty Foth-Regner:

    1. What’'s the book about?
    2. Were you raised in a Christian home?
    3. How would you describe yourself before you began investigating the question of God and heaven?
    4. What were your ideas about an afterlife all those years?
    5. Did anyone try to share the Gospel with you?
    6. What was the pivotal event in your spiritual transformation?
    7. Once you launched your investigation, what persuaded you that there is a God?
    8. I understand you investigated other religions. What did you learn?
    9. What role did science play in answering the “"Which God" question?
    10. Did your research change your understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
    11. How has your conversion changed your life?
    12. How has dealing with terminally ill patients and those in the end stages of their lives effected and transformed you?
    13. What advice would you give to people and their friends and families who are personally dealing with these life and death issues?
    14. As a person of words, how would you try to describe the deep emotional satisfaction you get from dealing with people in this most intimate stage of life?
    15. Where can our listeners get your book?

    Posted by Lou at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    May 01, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "State Comptroller Dan Hynes said the legislation would help eliminate the 'perception that our government is for sale and that politicians are corrupt."

    Story next to that: "State Lawmakers Set For Another Hefty Pay Raise." To the tune of $7,000. And get this: the governor would see his salary go up by $22,000.

    Museum Moxie
    The Chicago Journal has an excellent piece on the manueverings behind the Chicago Children's Museum fight.

    Among the highlights:

    * "They do not have 26 votes to pass this through city council and as it stands today," Ald. Brendan Reilly says.

    * Reilly's political future - as well as that of other aldermen being lobbied - is being threatened. "I've been reminded there are a number of wealthy, powerful interests at play here and if I have an interest in political longevity, I better take another look," Reilly said.

    * "Natalie Kreiger, the museum's public relations manager, said the All Chicago Children's Museum Committee is the primary vehicle for museum backers to express their support of the Grant Park move.

    "According to the museum, more than 80 organizations from all 50 of the city's wards are members of the committee, which Kreiger said was created last summer by Lois Wille, a Pulitzer Prize-winning local writer, and Adele Simmons, of the Global Philanthropy Partnership, to bolster the museum's arguments."

    Q. Did Wille just decide to do this out of the goodness of her heart or is she being paid? Does she have some personal connection to the museum? In other words, why, Lois? Why do you care so much?

    * "[Krieger] called the committee an 'independent entity' that operates separately from the museum, though she and an employee of the museum's public relations firm are the only contacts listed on a press release about the group."

    Is this a good lesson for the children, Natalie?

    * "The Children's Museum has hired two different public relations firms to bolster its arguments. From July 2007 until this March, the museum retained the firm ASK before switching to Hill and Knowlton in mid to late February, Kreiger said."

    ASK, by the way, is David Axelrod's firm. In a recent BusinessWeek Chicago article, Reilly called it "the gold standard of Astroturf organizing." (Paging Obamaphiles!)

    Axelrod refused to return phone calls and e-mail messages from BusinessWeek about the museum effort.

    * "Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a former alderman himself, said the Daley administration is lobbying aldermen through its Intergovernmental Affairs agency to back the proposal. Simpson said 25 aldermen have voted with the mayor 100 percent of the time in 2008.

    "'All the mayor needs to do is keep that block with him and pick up one vote,' Simpson said of the museum proposal. 'And the odds are in his favor.'"

    *

    There once was a Mayor named Rich
    A kids museum was his pitch
    A tall building in Grant
    Is something you shan't
    So he put all the kids in a ditch

    *

    Allstate said they needed more fame
    In Grant Park they wanted their name
    Fifteen million is small
    For breaking the law
    And putting their good hands all to shame

    *

    See more of our fabulous Children's Museum Limericks!

    Obama's New Neighbors
    John and Marjorie Poulos.

    Wright Wronged
    The New York Times this morning has a front-page story about Obama's split with Jeremiah Wright that paints Wright as the more sympathetic character.

    Clout HMO
    Once known as The Health-Care Hustlers . . . former Chicago HMO execs populate the Rezko trial. Tim Novak of the Sun-Times takes a look.

    CTA CYA
    The CTA responds to Sleeping Beauty at Rockwell Station. Scroll down for the update.

    Birds
    Read our fantabulous ode to birds, complete with video. From our Westward Ho! columnist Leigh Novak.

    Rookie Mistake
    Apparently this is Mary Mitchell's first campaign.

    Quick Takes
    Zay Smith is on fire this morning as he poses and responds to such questions as "Are you better off now than you were eight days ago?" and "I feel a need to panic and loot. Do you have any suggestions?"

    Unqualified Operators
    Cook County Commissioners Forrest Claypool and Mike Quigley appeared on Chicago Tonight last night, but panel moderator Eddie Arruza noted that repeated calls to the office of Todd Stroger to invite a representative of his office - or god forbid, him! - went unreturned.

    A) Which proves he needs just one more PR person on his staff to answer the phones.
    B) Maybe he has 16 phone lines and his 15 PR people were busy on all the others.
    C) Operators apparently not standing by.

    School Pool
    This is actually a good idea, if only for the celebrity yearbook photos.

    Extra Ball
    "Being inside a pinball machine factory sounds exactly as you think it would. Across a 40,000-square-foot warehouse here, a cheery cacophony of flippers flip, bells ding, bumpers bump and balls click in an endless, echoing loop. The quarter never runs out," the New York Times writes from Melrose Park.

    "But this place, Stern Pinball Inc., is the last of its kind in the world. A range of companies once mass produced pinball machines, especially in the Chicago area, the one-time capital of the business. Now there is only Stern. And even the dinging and flipping here has slowed: Stern, which used to crank out 27,000 pinball machines each year, is down to around 10,000."

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Operator standing by.

    Posted by Lou at 08:57 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Elegy For White Power

    ELEGY FOR WHITE POWER

    God favors us
    who grieve,

    for we have
    loved.

    Twelve angry men,
    losing their cool:

    people of means,
    of every color,

    have moralized cocaine,
    just as they did

    liquor during
    prohibition.

    Legalize it: label it,
    TAX IT and let those

    who need it
    register

    to get it.
    O SHIT!!!

    Couple of lines
    at the Jimmy Buffet

    or Stones concert,
    couple of lines in the

    washroom at the charity
    fundraiser . . .

    O SHIT!!!
    Couple of lines before

    going on
    the air . . .

    People of means
    have already moralized

    it. Can we
    'fess up?! Course not. Dig:

    Twelve angry white
    men and their

    moral arrogance:
    we have MONEY

    so we're GOOD.
    America is the RICHEST

    nation therefore it is
    the best.

    Sorry, fellas.
    Stop the killing, eliminate

    the profit motive,
    admit to the single largest drug

    DEMAND
    in the world.

    It's a DEMAND problem,
    stupid.

    Legalize the goddam
    motherfucker.

    Ooo, don't wanna threaten
    White Moral Power.

    I SUCK.
    As with alcohol, people

    of means have MORALIZED
    cocaine, as long their kids

    only DO IT in high school
    and don't die

    from the market
    forces that bring it

    to them.
    Well, coke and Mother's Little

    Helper, of course.
    O shit, I acknowledged

    unsupervised suburban kids
    doing their parents' prescription

    drugs because their parents
    have other things on their minds,

    like, their own
    personal gratification!!!

    I SUCK.
    Grow up. Fess up.

    Legalize what y'all've
    already

    moralized.
    Not until YOUR white kids

    in the suburbs start
    dying?!

    God favors us who grieve
    for we have

    loved White
    Power.

    In the name of the Father,
    Son and Holy

    Ghost, I hereby bury
    thee.

    May only God
    have

    mercy . . .

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Lou at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - The Rock 'N' Roll Highway Revisited.
    TV - Jockeys gets sudsy.
    POLITICS - New coalition is ready for reform.
    SPORTS - Bracketology: Do seedings matter?

    BOOKS - Coming soon.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Lords of Ireland.

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