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July 31, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

There will be no Papers today, this week has gone awry and I have to attend to business that's piled up. But if you missed our piece "Chicago 2040" yesterday, go read it now. It's really funny. Because it's true.

The [Wednesday] Papers

The new Sun-Times: RedderEye.

cstfront.jpg

Same inanity, poorer execution.

And one's free.

*

By the way, Serena Williams and Common were not the participants in that baseball brawl.

So, yeah, design problems too.

Pet Council
"After a three-hour hearing that starred [Bob Barker], the City Council's License Committee took no action on the spay and neutering mandate," the Sun-Times reports.

Must. Resist. Obvious. Bob Barker. Jokes.

What, Drew Carey wasn't available?

Pet Peeves
"Somebody will say this is an intentional distraction from the city's looming budget deficit," writes Mark Brown, who spent a couple of hours on Tuesday listening to city council testimony.

It's working!

Bennigan's Beat
* Who is lamer, Richard Roeper for standing in line to get into the Bennigan's in Calumet City or Michael Jordan for taking ex-wife Juanita to Bennigan's on their first date?

Flair Fallout
"Angry customers must now walk extra three blocks to TGIFs."
- Marty Gangler

Office Space
The big question no one asked in the papers today: Who gets that prime Michigan Avenue space?

Early Beachwood leaderboard:

* O'Briens: 2-1
* Panda Express: 15-1
* The Children's Museum: 25-1

Everybody Poops
Page 14 Metro story in the Sun-Times: "Guilty Plea For Defecating In Cell."

Hyperlocal news is here!

Motives
Did a man really lose an eye because he's a Sox fan?

Anything could have started that fight - even a debate of the merits of Bennigan's vs. TGIFs.

*

"Boguslaw Czapla acknowledged that he and his brother are Cubs fans but said he does not recall any discussions about the teams during the gathering," the Tribune reports, under the headline "Baseball Rivalry Turned Violent At July 19 Party, Police Say: 3 Cubs fans charged in fight that cost Sox fan an eye."

*

"3 arrested in Brewers-Cubs brawl at Miller Park."

Christ, here come the trend stories.


Why Not Six?
"Aldermen Agree To Take Part In City Furlough Plan."

They'll take three unpaid days off.

A) Will spend time at fundraisers instead of jobs.
B) They agree to make up for it with their next pay raise.
C) Unpaid days off will be the next three Saturdays.

Got Brains?
"Milk and country just seem to go hand-in-hand in terms of wholesome imagery," Lewis Lazare writes today.

Because nothing says wholesome like songs about drinking, cheating, screwing, screwing while drunk, cheating while screwing, gambling, gambling drunk, brawling, brawling while cheating, and all-around rambling like country.

Gov. Baloneyvich
The governor continues to say he won't sign campaign finance reform legislation because it isn't tough enough, and then sets out on a fundraising binge to prove his point.

World Wide Wait
It's been more than a month since the Tribune's Internet critic has posted to his blog.

Contrary Mary
Mary Schmich offers upsides of bad economic news today. For example, "Home is home again. It's not an ATM or a castle."

Well, yes, for those who still have their home.

Here's a potential upside, though: Maybe Mary Schmich will lose her job.

Budget Beat
"Daley Warns That City Will Have A Huge Deficit."

Maybe a new spay and neutering law could fill it.

Ballpark Estimates
"The size of the city's budget shortfall, however, remained a moving target Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

"'A couple hundred million dollars,' Daley told reporters.

"Later, Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard amended that statement.

"'When the mayor said a couple hundred million dollars, he didn't mean it literally,' Heard said. 'He meant it in general terms, as in , More than a few hundred million.'

Okay, the only thing I can figure from this is that she amended the deficit size upward - from a couple hundred million, meaning, say, $200 million, to more than a few hundred million, say, more than $300 million.

Which means it's really going to clock in at about twice that.

Stimulus Response
Should you get another stimulus check?

A) Only if it goes on George W. Bush's American Express card.
B) Only if by "stimulus" you mean it comes with a vial of crack.
C) Yes, we'll just raise taxes to pay for it.

Local Yokel
"Daley Warns That City Will Have A Huge Deficit"

Maybe a stimulus check would help.

Tell Mell
"Only 25 Apply For Mell's Gun-Registration Amnesty."

Wouldn't this have worked better as an undercover sting instead of a real ordinance?

Home Again
"Visitors from across the globe are in town marveling at the architecture, visiting the museums, posing in front of the Bean," the Tribune wrote on Sunday.

"But away from the lures of the lakefront and the Loop, there's a truer Chicago."

Yes, one the Trib ignores so sufficiently that it feels compelled to make a special series out of writing about it.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Make your dreams come true.

Posted by Lou at 06:40 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

The new Sun-Times: RedderEye.

cstfront.jpg

Same inanity, poorer execution.

And one's free.

*

By the way, Serena Williams and Common were not the participants in that baseball brawl.

So, yeah, design problems too.

Pet Council
"After a three-hour hearing that starred [Bob Barker], the City Council's License Committee took no action on the spay and neutering mandate," the Sun-Times reports.

Must. Resist. Obvious. Bob Barker. Jokes.

What, Drew Carey wasn't available?

Pet Peeves
"Somebody will say this is an intentional distraction from the city's looming budget deficit," writes Mark Brown, who spent a couple of hours on Tuesday listening to city council testimony.

It's working!

Bennigan's Beat
* Who is lamer, Richard Roeper for standing in line to get into the Bennigan's in Calumet City or Michael Jordan for taking ex-wife Juanita to Bennigan's on their first date?

Flair Fallout
"Angry customers must now walk extra three blocks to TGIFs."
- Marty Gangler

Office Space
The big question no one asked in the papers today: Who gets that prime Michigan Avenue space?

Early Beachwood leaderboard:

* O'Briens: 2-1
* Panda Express: 15-1
* The Children's Museum: 25-1

Everybody Poops
Page 14 Metro story in the Sun-Times: "Guilty Plea For Defecating In Cell."

Hyperlocal news is here!

Motives
Did a man really lose an eye because he's a Sox fan?

Anything could have started that fight - even a debate of the merits of Bennigan's vs. TGIFs.

*

"Boguslaw Czapla acknowledged that he and his brother are Cubs fans but said he does not recall any discussions about the teams during the gathering," the Tribune reports, under the headline "Baseball Rivalry Turned Violent At July 19 Party, Police Say: 3 Cubs fans charged in fight that cost Sox fan an eye."

*

"3 arrested in Brewers-Cubs brawl at Miller Park."

Christ, here come the trend stories.


Why Not Six?
"Aldermen Agree To Take Part In City Furlough Plan."

They'll take three unpaid days off.

A) Will spend time at fundraisers instead of jobs.
B) They agree to make up for it with their next pay raise.
C) Unpaid days off will be the next three Saturdays.

Got Brains?
"Milk and country just seem to go hand-in-hand in terms of wholesome imagery," Lewis Lazare writes today.

Because nothing says wholesome like songs about drinking, cheating, screwing, screwing while drunk, cheating while screwing, gambling, gambling drunk, brawling, brawling while cheating, and all-around rambling like country.

Gov. Baloneyvich
The governor continues to say he won't sign campaign finance reform legislation because it isn't tough enough, and then sets out on a fundraising binge to prove his point.

World Wide Wait
It's been more than a month since the Tribune's Internet critic has posted to his blog.

Contrary Mary
Mary Schmich offers upsides of bad economic news today. For example, "Home is home again. It's not an ATM or a castle."

Well, yes, for those who still have their home.

Here's a potential upside, though: Maybe Mary Schmich will lose her job.

Budget Beat
"Daley Warns That City Will Have A Huge Deficit."

Maybe a new spay and neutering law could fill it.

Ballpark Estimates
"The size of the city's budget shortfall, however, remained a moving target Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

"'A couple hundred million dollars,' Daley told reporters.

"Later, Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard amended that statement.

"'When the mayor said a couple hundred million dollars, he didn't mean it literally,' Heard said. 'He meant it in general terms, as in , More than a few hundred million.'

Okay, the only thing I can figure from this is that she amended the deficit size upward - from a couple hundred million, meaning, say, $200 million, to more than a few hundred million, say, more than $300 million.

Which means it's really going to clock in at about twice that.

Stimulus Response
Should you get another stimulus check?

A) Only if it goes on George W. Bush's American Express card.
B) Only if by "stimulus" you mean it comes with a vial of crack.
C) Yes, we'll just raise taxes to pay for it.

Local Yokel
"Daley Warns That City Will Have A Huge Deficit"

Maybe a stimulus check would help.

Tell Mell
"Only 25 Apply For Mell's Gun-Registration Amnesty."

Wouldn't this have worked better as an undercover sting instead of a real ordinance?

Home Again
"Visitors from across the globe are in town marveling at the architecture, visiting the museums, posing in front of the Bean," the Tribune wrote on Sunday.

"But away from the lures of the lakefront and the Loop, there's a truer Chicago."

Yes, one the Trib ignores so sufficiently that it feels compelled to make a special series out of writing about it.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Make your dreams come true.


Posted by Lou at 11:37 AM | Permalink

Chicago 2040

"At the behest of Mayor Daley's former law partner, a City Council committee agreed Monday to extend until 2040 a franchise agreement that has allowed a private company to tear up Loop streets to install the chilled water pipeline needed to cool downtown office buildings," the Sun-Times reported on Tuesday.

This got us to wondering what Chicago will look like when that contract finally runs its course.

*

CTA hovercraft derails even without rails.

*

City council approves Lake Michigan privatization deal.

*

Last city landmark demolished.

*

Cubs announcer Kerry Wood to miss rest of season with vocal cord strain.

*

2016 Olympics finally paid off.

*

Todd Stroger Jr. named county board president after father suffers stroke.

*

Rod Blagojevich to write prison memoir.

*

The Kennedy renamed the Obama.

*

Michael Jordan: I'm Back!

*

But is this season's Bears team better than the 1985 team?

*

Blackhawks still refuse to put home games on the Internet.

*

ChicagoTribune.com slashes jobs as readers flock to wireless brain implants.

*

Chicago Sex-Times wonders whose bots are hotter.

*

Cryogenic Daley elected to another term.

*

Gentrifying Stickney the new hot spot.

*

Mayor says one day you'll be able to eat out of the Chicago River.

*

Oprah and Steadman plan fall wedding.

*

Former President Obama to deliver Jeremiah Wright eulogy.

*

Roeper & Roeper At the Movies premieres - Roeper debates old clips of himself reviewing classic oldies from 2000-2008.

*

Soldier Field finally takes off, flies to home planet.

*

Children's Museum completes expansion into Grant Park softball fields.

*

Could this finally be the year for the Cubs?

*

City budgets $122 million for wrought iron removal.

*

Continued delays due to three track construction on the Clear, Transparent, and Translucent lines of the CTA's Elevated "Vacu-suck" Pneumatic tube people-mover system.

*

Ozzie Guillen fined by Pleasant Meadows Nursing Home's residents council for latest outburst.

*

O'Hare Aviation Museum annexes fifth suburb.

*

Milwaukee threatens to secede from Cook County.

*

House Speaker Michael Madigan predicts overtime session.

*

Last real bluesman leaves town.

*

Block 37 blaxploitation megaplex a rousing success.

*

Studs Terkel invites luminaries for 127th birthday party.

*

Sweetheart chilled water pipeline contract finally expires.

-

- Cate Plys, Rick Kaempfer, Marty Gangler, Bethany Lankin, Marilyn Ferdinand, Tim Willette, Brian Rhodes, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Lou at 08:58 AM | Permalink

Big In Japan: Not the Olympics

The only experience I have had with Chicago's Olympics frenzy has been via online communications from friends and my perusing of the Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily Herald via the Web. I know the hype is swirling in Chi-town and that the community seems to overwhelmingly support the idea of a Chicago Olympics. Additionally, according to some people I know in Chicago who work in the news, the media there also has wholeheartedly latched onto the Olympic bandwagon.

TokyoLogo.jpgSince Tokyo is also a finalist for the 2016 Games, I thought I'd ask around town and see how people here felt about the contest and what their thoughts were on being in competition with Chicago.

But before I delve into that, the advantages of Tokyo as an Olympic city are worth mentioning. From personal experience, I have to say (no disrespect intended to the City of Big Shoulders) that Tokyo would make an excellent Olympic site. It is virtually crime-free, clean, organized and efficient. It also boasts what is arguably the world's best public transportation system. Further, Tokyo is truly an international town, the capital of Japan and large enough to host the games. Some contend that a Tokyo-hosted Olympics would signify Japan's complete rehabilitation from the destruction and poverty wrought by World War II.

So how does the Olympic bid look from Tokyo?

The consensus among Daily Yomiuri sportswriters is that the bid "is not even on the radar." Sports talk radio is in a sumo/baseball mode with occasional quips about the upcoming Beijing games.

TokyoPoster.jpgThere is very little hype here about the Tokyo bid. Sure, there are posters and other ads around the city, but the public seems to be indifferent. According to one Japanese writer I spoke with, the 2016 Games are seen more as the baby of Governor Shintaro Ishihara, and of less importance economically or culturally. Isihara has proposed building a 100,000-seat arena in west Tokyo's scenic Yoyogi Park. People seem to think that Ishihara wants to create one last spectacle before he dies. Or, as one English acquaintance of mine so eloquently put it, "Shintaro'll be dead and buried before the Games anyway, so why should people give a [expletive]."

Many from the city see the 2016 bid as a distraction and a nuisance that would disrupt their busy daily lives. Evidently, some within the city government - particularly assemblywoman Yoshiko Fukushi - are grumbling that the cost will be too high. Further, public backing for the bid is estimated at about 59% - the lowest of all finalist cities. On top of that, Tokyo would have to spend billions of yen in taxpayer money to build facilities in the city. That doesn't sit well with residents. In addition, there is a possibility that Tokyo would be dragged into a competition with neighboring Fukuoka for a new Olympic venue, another potential issue that draws the ire of Tokyo citizens.

A Japanese friend of mine who lives in Yokohama (home of the Cubs-like BayStars) told me that Tokyo feels that it doesn't really need the games. It already hosted an Olympics in 1964 during a time when, according to my friend, "the Olympics meant something in the world." At that time, many in Japan - and Tokyo in particular - saw the awarding of the Games as part of an emergence from the Third World into the first. The '64 games were the first Olympics held in a non-Western city, which was a source of pride to residents.

The same friend told me that an Olympic bid would be a much bigger deal - both for economic impact and city pride - for other, smaller cities in Japan (i.e. Yokohama), as it was for the Nagano's 1998 Winter Games.

As there is little discussion of the Olympics in general, there is even less discussion in the city about being in competition with Chicago or Rio. Again, people seem to not really think about it much. Don't get me wrong; people in Tokyo know where Chicago is, and are aware of the competition. They just don't seem to care.

-

Previously in Big in Japan:
* Not Fukudome
* The Yokohama Cubs
* The Chicago Way


Posted by Lou at 01:05 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

This is what a desperate newspaper looks like: best beaches and hot fans.

CSTfront.jpg

And let's not forget headlines inside like Hot Bods, Hubba Bubba Barbie and Sex Hit-And-Run Stings!

Oh wait, is that John Mayer? Yes, and guess who occupied his time while Jennifer shopped? Someone hot, I'll bet!

Meanwhile, Miley is hearing footsteps at Disney!

And with Susanna's Night Out taking the day off, there's room for a Liz Phair story from Billboard!

Too Hot To Handle!

*

Is it any surprise that that an ad package for a diet pill - disguised as news stories - spreads out over two pages? What, the people from the Mint took the day off?

Longest. Contract. Ever.
"At the behest of Mayor Daley's former law partner, a City Council committee agreed Monday to extend until 2040 a franchise agreement that has allowed a private company to tear up Loop streets to install the chilled water pipeline needed to cool downtown office buildings," the Sex-Times reports in between beaches and bods.

2040!

The original agreement - with the Northwind subsidiary of ComEd - had been set to expire in 2020, so give the Daley administration credit for thinking ahead. Officials also announced the music lineup for Taste of Chicago that summer, including a reunion show by Fall Out Boy, and said Chicago would bid for the 2038 Olympics.

"That will give MDE Thermal Technologies, the company that acquired Northwind years ago, the stability it needs to attract more clients. MDE is owned by Australia-based Macquarie, the company that paid the city $1.83 billion over 99 years to lease the Chicago Skyway."

And so the city feels compelled to help keep it in business.

"MDE was represented at Monday's Transportation Committee meeting by Jack George, a partner in the law firm of Daley & George. Michael Daley, the mayor's brother, is a partner in the firm."

Ding ding ding!

The agreement reportedly transfers power of attorney to George's grandchildren after 2030.

"The law firm stands to reap lucrative legal fees over the course of the longer franchise agreement."

On 32 years of interest alone.

"Daley & George once employed the mayor and paid him until 1991 under a buyout agreement reached in 1980, when he was elected state's attorney."

According to the buyout agreement, they now own him.

"George said the unprecedented extension is needed 'to ensure that more than 100 existing customers - and all of our potential new customers - understand that the environmentally-friendly cooling system is gonna be available for the [long-term] future when we enter into these contracts with these various people.'"

Oh, and it's also to send a message to our existing customers - and all of our potential new customers - that we're the boss hogs with the big nuts.

"Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th) countered, 'When you see that the use agreement changes from expiring in 2020 to 2040, it raises some eyebrows.'"

Mostly from people who want to know how to get a slice.

"He asked MDE President David Bump to justify it some more."

That way he wouldn't look so bad when he passed it out of his committee.

"They need to know we're going to be there," Bump said. "It's in our interest - ours as well as the city's - to have this system committed for the long-term so people will utilize it."

Funny how their interest and the city's coincide.

*

Here's the worst part: Now Brian Urlacher wants his contract re-done.

Urgent Message
R U An Idiot 4 Thnkng Txt Msg Hdlines Are Clvr?

*

Co-anchor chit chat on the Channel 2 "news" last night after a Vince Gerasole report on text-messaging.

"Vince is down with the kids!"

"He sure is!"

*

"Today's big danger: Texting while walking!" Margaret Lyons writes at Chicagoist. "Holy moly, is it ever time to be afraid. Particularly of twin bullshit stories, neither of which identify anyone who has actually been injured."

*

Chicagoist commenter Spook responds to the Trib story: "I hope that in the very near future, Ms. Kelly Scheiner of Streeterville is texting whilst running one of her many errands and has a 'real time intro' with the front grill of a speeing Mississippi bound Mack Truck that leaves nothing left behind on the street but her silver Nordstrom bag still draped over her left forearm for shallow mindless consumer posterity."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Hot and bothered.

Posted by Lou at 09:58 AM | Permalink

TV Notes: Freak Shows and Erection Drugs

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

1. I think those of us who have been fans from day one can all say we were disappointed with the opening episode of Mad Men's second season. Maybe all the attention will spoil the show. I had a hard time grasping the plot lines or even what the hell the characters were saying. A head-scratcher - and not in a good way.

2. I watch a lot of "freak shows" on cable and find them to be compassionate and illuminating. The story of the half-man, half-tree broadcast recently was particularly moving.

Here is an update on the man's condition.

3. I also watched The Man With No Face recently.

4. I know it must not be easy to come up with ad campaigns for erectile dysfunction drugs, but man! I'm not entirely sure why, but the Viva Viagra! commercial called "Nashville" bugs the shit out of me. I think it's because it has a certain smug quality to it - it's almost too well-done. See, here are some old Nashville session hands working late in the studio, and they're men, slightly leathery but also (country) musical and still relatively good-looking and this guy's got a clever song for a pick-me-up! And oh boy, it's funny! When did he come up with that? And they call join in and jam! Even the guy at the soundboard starts fidgeting with the levels.


5. And then there's this one too. Listen to the lyrics - see, he's not one to stray! And why the shot of the dog - is that a comment on horny men? But anyway, yes, these are dirty, dusty men's men who speed off on loud motorcycles to get home and bone their wives.

6. At least it's better than the dorkathon that is "Anniversary." My God . . .

7. On the other hand, Cialis goes too far in its sensitivity campaign with its talk of being ready "when the moment is right." Dude, take the damn pill every day and you're good to go!

Their campaign is oddly built around coitus interruptus, or at least pre-coitus interruptus when the equipment is getting primed. Oh wouldn't you know it, just when I was going to nail my wife our daughter comes home from college with the laundry! Or the in-laws dropped by! Or we ran into old friends!

8. Cuba Gooding Jr. for Cialis.

9. This is pretty good too.

10. He's no Bob Dole.

11. Oh what the hell. Here's one more.

-

Comments welcome. Please include a real name and something clever to say if you want to be considered for publication.

Posted by Lou at 07:22 AM | Permalink

The White Sox Report

When President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch of the season in Washington, one thing was eminently clear: this was a guy who loved baseball. Maybe that should have been obvious all along - after all, he did own the Texas Rangers (and traded Sammy Sosa to the White Sox ) - but hearing Bush talk informatively about baseball from the broadcast booth, one couldn't help but notice his passion for the game.

As Deadspin's Will Leitch wrote at the time, Bush was never more engaging or likable as he was that night. Those are hardly two adjectives Bush is synonymous with anymore, and maybe it's even more astonishing that our president was actually able to tolerate speaking with Joe Morgan.

Even so, it was a little surprising to read of Bush's affection for Sox pitcher John Danks. After all, it would seem like the South Side of Chicago couldn't be more different from Bush's White House surroundings.

As a Texas kid who was drafted by the Rangers, Bush has plenty of reason to monitor Danks' development. If not for Carlos Quentin, Danks' transition into one of the best young hurlers in the American League would be the biggest surprise of this White Sox season. With the rest of the Sox playing up and down all year (as is wont to happen in 162 baseball games), Danks has been the Sox' most consistent pitcher, the type of front end of the rotation force that is required to win post-season games.

I'm not sure if Bush's love of Danks is relevant or even interesting. But for a White Sox team that always feels a tad underappreciated nationally, the support one pitcher gets from our inept president may be as much as we can ask.

-

Week in Review: The Sox' ten-game road trip against division foes is just getting underway, but taking two of three from Detroit is an encouraging start.

Week in Preview: The Sox take on the Twins for four games in Minnesota, and then head to Kansas City for three.

The Missile Tracker: Alexei has been smoking lately, picking up 15 hits in his last 11 games. Kudos to Ozzie for realizing that Ramirez's surprising power and unsurprising lack of plate discipline - you don't walk off the island! - means he is at his best when he isn't hitting at the top of the order.

Fields on the Farm: No longer! With Joe Crede on the DL, the Sox called up Fields prior to the Detroit series. Let's just hope the Sox aren't using this stint as an audition to trade him to another team.

Over/Under: 0: the number of moves the Sox should make at the trade deadline this year. The Sox have what it takes to win this division, and it wouldn't be smart to deal an emerging power hitter like Fields - the team's only prominent prospect - unless something unexpectedly awesome came along.

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 despite what you may read in major newspapers, home runs are a good thing.


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 , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.

Posted by Lou at 06:30 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

BREAKING 12:40 P.M.: Robert Novak diagnosed with brain tumor.

Obamaphiles
"If you thought Sen. Barack Obama would have an easy time before an audience of journalists of color Sunday, think again," Mary Mitchell writes this morning. "[I]t looks like the honeymoon - if there ever was such a thing - is over."

If the honeymoon is over, it's only because the marriage has been consummated.

"Sporting a beige suit and a U.S. flag lapel pin, Obama found a receptive audience among the minority journalists and students at McCormick Place, who gave him standing ovations, 10 rounds of applause and a rush of cell phone picture-taking," Sun-Times political reporter Abdon Pallasch reports.

It's true that Pallasch also writes next that "they did not hold back on tough questions." And Obama did not hold back on evading them, as I will show.

But c'mon!

"As it happened, Obama received a standing ovation from much of the audience at the start and end of his appearance," the Tribune reports.

That's all you get in the online version, which is curious because my print edition ends like this:

"One journalist was also overheard wishing him luck, while another exclaimed, 'He touched me!' as she left the ballroom."

(I wonder if that was Sun-Times editorial writer Deborah Douglas, who once said on Chicago Tonight after Obama met with the editorial board to address lingering issues about Tony Rezko that "You could listen to him all day . . . it was really refreshing to have that experience . . . only the malcontents and Obama-haters will keep this alive.")

And here were the questions the Trib's Mike Dorning put to Obama on the flight home:

* After making this trip, can you visualize yourself making the case for America abroad as president?

* Can you change the way America is viewed?

* How quickly?

* Did you pick up hostility to the U.S. in this trip?

* Was this trip presumptuous?

* What was the political value of the trip?

* What happens if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran after the election but before the inauguration? Should the president-elect have a role in a decision like that?

* Can I have a hug?

Okay, not the last one, but all the rest.

Meanwhile, the Trib's Sunday magazine mails in a cover story about Daley crony Valerie Jarrett titled "Insider Has Obama's Ear: What's She Telling Him?" without ever answering the question.

For starters, what did Michelle Obama do exactly when she worked for Richard M. Daley? What kind of discussions led to Barack Obama's endorsement of the scandal-laden mayor? Name three things Obama did that challenged politics as usual in Chicago. And what kind of discussions did you have with other campaign officials about race-baiting in South Carolina? I mean, I could think of others, but I guess that's why I don't write for the Tribune Sunday magazine.

Asking Obama
"Obama bristled at questions about whether meeting with foreign leaders before he's elected president was presumptuous - and about whether he should admit that his opposition to the Iraq troop 'surge' was a mistake," Pallasch reports.

"'I basically met with these same folks John McCain met with after he won the nomination, and nobody suggested that was audacious,' Obama said, evoking applause."

Yes, but John McCain has been traveling overseas for years as part of his duties as a United States Senator. Obama has yet to report to duty as a Senator and instead choreographed a campaign swing through Europe as a political stunt.

"Obama said he had not heard journalists press McCain about whether it was a mistake to authorize the war - though they have."

Well, just because they have doesn't mean Obama has heard it.

"Obama said the surge helped bring down violence in Iraq, but the troops are more urgently needed in Afghanistan."

So he was wrong to oppose the surge? He doesn't say.

"Obama did not rule out an apology from the U.S. government to Native Americans but said, 'I'm more concerned about delivering a better life and developing a better relationship with Native Americans'."

This is classic Obama fuzziness. So you're against an apology? Why?

"He gave a similar answer to the issue of reparations for descendants of slaves, saying the best reparations would be the chance of a decent job and a good education."

So is that a No?

(Robert Novak recalls today that in Jordan last week Katie Couric "asked four different times whether the troop surge he had opposed was instrumental in reducing violence in Iraq. Each time, Obama answered straight from talking points by citing 'the great effort of our young men and women in uniform'.'')

Finally, in the Trib account, Obama responds to a question about whether his disavowals of being Muslim are offensive to Muslims this way: "I just don't like the idea of somebody falsifying my religion."

Um, right.

O-Commerce
The Sun-Times is selling Obama posters for $8 (20 percent off - regularly $10). I saw that in an ad in the print edition. I can't find it online because, you know, nobody buys anything online these days.

Committing Journalism
I'm not sure a permalink for today's Doonesbury is available so I'll just do it this way . . .

First panel:

"Have to go, honey. I'm picking up Rick at the airport."

"How'd the trip go?"

Second panel:

"Great, I guess. I mean, it was pretty historic . . . "

Third panel:

"No one's ever campaigned for president in Europe before."

Fourth panel cuts to Rick on the campaign plane:

"So what's the takeaway, Senator?"

"The people of Germany want change."

UPDATE 12:48 P.M.: Here it is!

In Today's Beachwood
Lots of great stuff. Consult the "Today's Beachwood" box in the upper right rail for assistance.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Giddyup.

Posted by Lou at 10:03 AM | Permalink

Telling Zell

Of course, this is all much too late. Sam Zell has to meet his debt obligations, just like many of us warned when at least some Tribune Company journalists were getting all giddy about the new slogans and Bob Dylan quotes being bandied about. As if. And many of these journalists protesting the cuts at Tribune Company are responsible for the mess in their own way because of their recalcitrant stance toward change. Instead of being the changemakers themselves, they have ceded that power to the clowns in the Tower. Still, it's interesting to note that in Chicago there is nothing but silence. Here's the way things look elsewhere in the Tribune empire:

Hartford

hartfordcake.jpg

Los Angeles

zellhellla.jpg

Baltimore

Posted by Lou at 07:59 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

Many have noted it is awfully tough to be a No. 1 receiver and a return man at the same time, especially a guy who returns kick-offs and punts. A guy runs one back 20 or 30 or 50 or 60 yards isn't going to be ready to line up at receiver for a play or three. Unless he takes it to the end zone of course - then everything is peachy.

Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report will appear on Tuesday this week.
  • But here's the rub (and the really good news for the Bears): teams have decided not to kick to Devin Hester. Ever. They have their punters kick the ball out of bounds and they chip little squib kick-offs to spots well up the field from where Hester lines up. So at the start of any given Bears possession, Hester can go back there and watch his team reap the field position that comes with less-than-booming kicks. Then he can head into the offensive huddle with the energy he needs to turn what I'm sure will be the huge variety of innovative pass routes that Ron Turner's offense will employ this fall into touchdowns.

    Here's to Jerry Angelo by the way. He could have taken a very dim view of Hester's remarkably short-sighted holdout (he wanted to be paid like a No. 1 receiver but for a little while at least, he refused to go to camp to continue to learn how to actually become a No. 1 receiver). The conditions were ripe for a "we don't negotiate with hold-outs" or a "take our final offer or leave it" type showdown and it didn't happen. Angelo continued to negotiate a contract extension for Hester when he was out of camp and he continued to do so when he was back, sort of. I guess I'm just cynical but Hester's hamstring injury (that kept him out of practice even after he returned to camp until Sunday, when his contract extension had been signed and he enjoyed a miraculous recovery) was about as legit as the ailments they used to dream up for down-the-bench Bulls who had to be put on the injured list because of the roster limit.

    But even with Hester signed and sealed, I still can't muster a great deal of optimism about the Bears (and I'm trying! I've noted before that it simply doesn't make a whole lot of sense to be a sports fan if you can't marshal at least a few positive thoughts about your team in the offseason). It all comes down to: How can a team with all this stability (22 players on the roster have signed contract extensions with the Bears, i.e. have settled in for the long haul) have so many fundamental questions marks on offense? I've noted before I think the quarterback situation, while far from perfect, is better than most have made it out to be. It was noted in the Trib on Sunday that both Grossman and Orton have career win percentages above .600, for goodness sake.

    But the Bears are counting on a rookie at left tackle, only the most important spot on the line for a right-handed quarterback. And Chris Williams at left tackle would make more sense if the Bears had a stud at left guard. But the competition for that spot in the lineup leaves a ton to be desired, with underwhelming Terrence Metcalf (a backup for most of his undistinguished career) getting most of the first-team snaps so far.

    You can make an argument for the running back position as a potential strength, even if it is still in flux. Rookie Matt Forte clearly has all sorts of potential and he and Kevin Jones could be a strong one-two punch when Jones returns to full health. But the receivers - come on. Devin Hester could develop into a consistent deep threat but they tried to do that with him in college at Miami and failed. The news this weekend is that Brandon Lloyd has the best shot at the No. 2 receiver spot. Lloyd washed out of Washington in a big way last season and despite his Illinois ties (love the locals!) doesn't seem a great bet to become a force on his side of the field.

    But what about the tight ends? I'd be more excited about what Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark could do for the offense if a Ron Turner offense had ever even begun to truly utilize multi-faceted performers at the position. Turner's ideal tight end blocks, and blocks again, and again, and then maybe catches a five-yard pass on third-and-7.

    Pitch Count
    Hey Geo Soto - we love ya' but you've got to be a little sharper with your pitch calls late in games. It isn't a good idea to throw a big-league hitter the same pitch in the same (approximate) spot three times in a row, let alone four (OK, OK, if it's Carlos Marmol throwing his slider that's really a slurve - I can see three or four in a row . . . otherwise, no). In three different critical situations on Friday and Saturday, you had your pitchers throw the same thing four times in a row. And all three times good Marlins hitters nailed No. 4.

    In the ninth on Friday, Bobby Howry faced red-hot Jeremy Hermida. Outer half fastball, outer half fastball, outer half fastball, outer half fastball, game-winning solo home run. Saturday's eighth inning saw Sean Marshall take his shot at the left-handed hitting Hermida (who had already hit a second home run in two days earlier in the game). Marshall's slow curveball is almost impossible for most left-handers to hit even when it comes in right over the plate, unless they see it four times in a row. Then they time it, rip it, and then circle the bases yet again. Hermida's second home run of the day and third in 24 hours was what eventually sent the game into extra innings.

    Finally in the top of the 12th, Chad Gaudin took on Jorge Cantu with the lead run on second. Low sliders seemed like a good idea but Cantu went down and got the fourth, lining it down the left-field line for what held up as the game-winning double.

    If this were the Cardinals, where the over-involved coaches - they may be ridiculously good but they're still over-involved - call many of the pitches, plenty of the heat for these sorts of screw-ups would accrue to the guys on the bench. But Lou Piniella has always said he lets his catchers call their own games. So until I hear different, this stuff is on Soto and Soto alone.

    Brew Crew
    The Brewers' four-game sweep of the Cardinals last week looked bad for the Cubs in terms of the top spot in the Central Division (Milwaukee moved within a game of the lead when it won on Thursday) but it probably moved the Cubs closer to a playoff spot. Even if the Brewers move into the top spot in the division, there is still the wild card and going into action this week, the Cubs lead the wild-card runner-up Cardinals by five big games. I know we want to win the division but I would very much take just making the post-season for the second year in a row for the first time in how long is it again? Yes, there's that wonderful 100-year answer again. Isn't it special.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with the best sports wrap-up in the city. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Lou at 07:31 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    The Cubs may have exploded for nine runs on Sunday to salvage a split with Marlins, but the tendency of the offense to disappear for stretches is still a concern. We here at The Cub Factor have input all available data into the computers at Beachwood Labs and come up with the following slump-busting solutions.

    * Dip into Sammy Sosa's secret cache of corked bats still hidden in the Wrigley ventilation system.

    * Call the White Sox and ask to borrow their blow-up doll.

    * Get some chicken for jobu.

    * Bring back Michael Barrett and let everyone take out their frustrations on him.

    * Bless the bats and the children.

    * Casually ask Fukudome how to say "steroids" in Japanese.

    * "I'll have what Fontenot's having."

    * Stop taking batting practice at Sluggers.

    * Tell Derrek Lee to regain his focus and stop spending so much time updating his Facebook page.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs didn't look good losing two of three to the D-Backs on the road and splitting a four-game series with the Fish at home.

    Week in Preview: Four games at Wrigley North against the Brew Crew. And then I think they play a few more games after that. It's hard to focus beyond these four.

    The Second Basemen Report: Seven games last week and three second baseman. Mighty Mini Fontenot got three starts while Mark DeRosa and Ronnie Cedeno got two starts each. DeRosa also played every other position not just for the Cubs but for opposing teams. He actually never left the field. Just like Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Mark Grudzielanek owns Kenny Rogers, is having another unheralded quality season, got his 2,000 hit, wants to play another two or three years and is missed in St. Louis. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z is apologetic this week as he actually won his start this week and the Cubs only committed one error behind him. But he is still an angry young man.
    zam_apologetic

    Lost in Translation: Jeff Samardzija-san is Japanese for Kerry Wood.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 60% sweet, 40% Sour. Lou is down another five points on the Sweet-O-Meter this week due to concerns about the offense and the lame way he was ejected from a game defending first-base coach Matt Sinatro. And like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou doesn't mind making a scene for you because your history teacher gave you a bad grade, but it's up to you to do something about it.

    Center Stage: A gimpy old knee limited Joltin' Jimmy Edmonds to three starts, while Reed Johnson got three and Kosuke Fukudome moved over from right for one. Johnson's spectacular defense was like a dart aimed at Alfonso Soriano.

    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 Bernie Brewer rules.

    Over/Under: Number Cub fans who go up to Miller Park this week and say, Tthis ballpark is pretty sweet": +/- 22,000.

    Mount Lou: Mount Lou is sitting on red. Lou is spitting magma right now and all villagers heading north this week should take cover. Or at least cover your beer with some sort of lava proof cap.

    mtlou_red.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!


    Posted by Lou at 06:39 AM | Permalink

    Robert Novak's Little Black Corvette

    Editor's Note: This was posted before we learned that Robert Novak was diagnosed with a brain tumor.


    *

    With apologies to Prince and Don Liljenquist.

    *

    I guess I shoulda known
    By the way you spout your nonsense
    That you'd hit-and-run

    See you're the kinda person
    Who drives fast at 10 a.m.
    And hates pedestrians

    I guess you had to run
    cuz u had to meet with sources
    Use them and also get used

    But it was broad daylight
    You were in plain sight
    And the Prince of Darkness doesn't lose
    And Bobby I say

    Little black corvette
    Bobby you're much 2 crass
    Little black corvette
    U need a source who's gonna last

    I guess I shoulda closed my eyes
    When u drove me 2 the place
    Where your sources run free

    cuz I felt a little ill
    When I saw all the pictures
    Of the sources who were there before me

    Believe it or not
    I started to worry
    I wondered if I had enough crap

    But it was broad daylight
    I guess that makes it alright
    And u say, baby, let's give the liberals gas
    Oh yeah

    Little black corvette
    Bobby you're much 2 fast, yes u r
    Little black corvette
    U need 2 find a source who's gonna last

    A reporter like you (a reporter like you)
    Oughta be in jail (oughta be in jail)
    cuz u verge on bein' obscene
    (cuz u verge of bein' obscene)

    Eat little babies (eat little babies)
    Out secret agents (out secret agents)
    And spread the lies of the Republican machine
    (and spread the lies of the Republican machine)

    Little black corvette
    Bobby you're much 2 fast
    Little black corvette
    U need 2 find a source who's gonna last

    Little black corvette
    Honey u got 2 check facts (got 2 check facts)
    Little black corvette
    You whore yourself out for loads of cash
    Little black corvette right in the ground

    (little black corvette)
    Write down what they want (honey u got 2 write down)
    U, u, u got 2 write down (little black corvette)
    You're schmoozing much 2 fast (2 fast)
    U need 2 find a source who's gonna last

    Boy, u got a racket like I never seen
    And your rap . . .
    I say your rap is so smooth
    U should drive a limousine

    Bobby you're much 2 fast
    Little black corvette
    U need a source, u need a source who's
    Who's gonna last
    (little black corvette)
    U got 2 write down (u got 2 write down)
    Little black corvette

    cuz if u don't, cuz if u don't,
    U gonna run your column right into the ground (right into the ground)
    Right into the ground (right into the ground)
    Right into the ground (right into the ground)

    Little black corvette

    Posted by Lou at 06:16 AM | Permalink

    Swingtown

    Love her or hate her, you have to admit Liz Phair knows her '70s music. And she knows how to pick a good TV show. In fact, she's kind of made a cottage industry out of both of those things with her involvement in CBS' Swingtown, which, I'm thinking, would have ended up becoming a minor hit of the 2007-08 network TV season if it had debuted when it should have in January instead of being derailed by the writers' strike.

    Instead, it has been languishing in summer-replacementland, first on Thursday nights, and now on Fridays (not a good sign). Probably only Liz and the uber-suburbany folks of Winnetka, whom this show is really about, are watching Swingtown as it is now. CBS programming boss Nina Tassler says she's undecided about bringing the show back, perhaps as a mid-season replacement for next winter. The ratings, of course, suck.

    Too bad. This show is so well-written, it's an instant classic. Created by Phair's Winnetka childhood pal Mike Kelley, it's not so much about ripping apart the hypocrisy of suburbia's penultimate hour as it is about gently dissecting it. It's no Taxi Driver, to be sure, but it's not Jonathan Livingston Seagull either.

    It's got just the right combination of real affection for the superficiality of the '70s - its ridiculous feel-good psycho-babble masquerading as an authentic successor to the rage of '60s - and a dead-on depiction of the subtle undercurrent of foreboding over changing sexual and familial roles that everyone deep-down knew would end up leading to something nobody bargained for, even as they were popping their 'ludes, drinking their Harvey Wallbangers and trying to tell themselves it was all good in the crowded space just beneath the smiley-face bedsheets.

    Oh, and did I say it's got group sex? On CBS? And drugs? On CBS? And lots and lots of rock 'n' roll? Which is where the ever-debatable Liz comes in. On the show, she has teamed with TV and film score producer/musician Evan Frankfort and Marc "Doc" Dauer (now playing in Minnie Driver's band) to whip up the music for Swingtown, which is really just as important a character as any of the intermingling marrieds. The three compose the incidental music for the show (which, to be honest, is not all too inspiring). Liz sings the show's opening theme song.

    But way more importantly, she helps pick out the playlists of the actual '70s songs used to punctuate the emotional and dramatic points being made. In what also seems to be a first, CBS has teamed up with Last.fm to highlight the show's song selections. The list here from Last.fm seems to be a compilation of the songs sampled on the 13 episodes of Swingtown that have been filmed so far. All in all, a list I could really see Liz grooving to in her retro moods while holed up in her girlie room after a hard day at New Trier: A lot of familiar titles, as well as few that are a bit on the subversive side.

    Kind of like the show itself: On the surface, it seems like everything is all Average White Band on the North Shore . That is, until the stylish neighbors invite you over to their special basement room, and you notice Kool is gettin' down with the whole Gang.

    *

    1. Julie London, "The Good Life"

    2. Brick, "Dazz"

    3. Average White Band, "Pick Up the Pieces"

    4. John Lennon, "Jealous Guy"

    5. Commodores, "Machine Gun"

    6. Golden Earring, "Radar Love"

    7. Norman Greenbaum, "Skyline"

    8. Three Dog Night, "Joy to the World"

    9. Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now (Single Version)"

    10. Rita Coolidge, "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher"

    11. Deep Purple, "Smoke on the Water"

    12. Captain & Tennille, "Love Will Keep Us Together"

    13. Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Sweet Home Alabama"

    14. Stealers Wheel, "Stuck in the Middle With You"

    15. Van Morrison, "Moondance"

    16. T-Connection, "Do What You Wanna Do"

    17. Redbone, "Come and Get Your Love"

    18. Free, "All Right Now"

    19. Blue Swede, "Hooked on a Feeling"

    20. George McCrae, "Rock Your Baby"

    21. David Bowie, "Golden Years"

    22. David Bowie, "Ziggy Stardust"

    23. King Harvest, "Dancing In the Moonlight (Original Recording)"

    24. The Emotions, "Best of My Love"

    25. Orleans, "Still the One"

    26. James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"

    27. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Fortunate Son"

    28. The Three Degrees, "When Will I See You Again"

    29. Smokie, "For a Few Dollars More"

    30. The Doobie Brothers, "What A Fool Believes (live)"

    31. Vanity Fare, "Hitchin' a Ride"

    32. Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better"

    33. Bob Dylan, "It Ain't Me Babe"

    34. The Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

    35. Stonewall Jackson, "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo"

    36. Earth, Wind & Fire, "Shining Star"

    37. Cheryl Lynn, "Got to Be Real (Single Version)"

    38. The Tymes, "You Little Trustmaker"

    39. Paper Lace, "The Night Chicago Died"

    40. Johnny Bristol, "Hang on in There Baby"

    41. Lobo, "I'd Love You to Want Me"

    42. Little River Band, "Reminiscing"

    43. The Hollies, "The Air That I Breathe"

    44. T Connection, "Do What You Wanna Do"

    45. Joe Cocker, "Bye Bye Blackbird"

    46. Phil Ochs, "Song of My Returning"

    47. Smokie, "Living Next Door to Alice"

    48. Robin Trower, "Day of the Eagle"

    49. Carpenters, "We've Only Just Begun"

    50. Stealers Wheel, "You Put Something Better Inside Me"

    51. Carole King, "It's Too Late"

    52. The Allman Brothers Band, "Can't Lose What You Never Had"

    53. The Dramatics, "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get"

    54. Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit in the Sky"

    55. Dobie Gray, "Drift Away"

    56. Three Dog Night, "Shambala"

    57. Looking Glass, "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"

    58. Melanie, "Brand New Key"

    59. KISS, "Shout It Out Loud"

    60. Eric Clapton, "Hello Old Friend"

    61. Helen Reddy, "I Am Woman"

    62. Parliament, "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)"

    63. Barry Manilow, "Mandy"

    64. Steve Miller Band, "Space Cowboy"

    65. Kool & the Gang, "Jungle Boogie"

    66. Neil Diamond, "Cracklin' Rosie"

    67. Captain & Tenille, "Shop Around"

    68. Bobby Darin, "Call Me Irresponsible"

    -

    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 01:01 AM | Permalink

    July 26, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    You can sleep in this weekend, safe in the knowledge that Madonna's still married and we're still watching the news.

    Market Update
    Markets failed to respond positively to a last-minute bailout of Presidential Dignity. Analysts note that fourth-quarter profits continue to plummet and stress most investors seem resigned to ride out the slump.

    Court of Appeal
    Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic candidate Barack Obama spent the week assembling key members of his potential Homecoming Court. Observers note Obama spared little more than one dance for Nicolas Sarkozy, although sources close to the once and future king note this is not related to unconfirmed rumors of cooties.

    No Appeal
    The deadline for captured former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's appeal of extradition to the Hague has passed. Analysts note his actual appeal had pretty well passed anyway.

    1984 + 32?
    The City of Chicago this week took another big step towards Orwellian dystopia by announcing all its citizens will be kept safe by the watchful eye of Big Brother. City officials have also announced that we are currently at war with Springfield.

    Summer Hours
    How about you write a punch line for this one? We're on a bit of a staycation.

    The Truth Is Out There
    Finally, this week sees the release of a new X-Files movie, proving conclusively that America is just as paranoid and blustery as it was six years ago. So, basically, duh.

    Posted by Natasha at 08:30 AM | Permalink

    July 25, 2008

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. It may be hard to take Al Franken's Senate campaign seriously, but it's even harder to imagine what might have possessed incumbent Norm Coleman to release an attack ad that seems to attack the blue-collar voters who are not Franken's natural constituency. Or maybe Franken just pulled off a masterful satire.

    2. Ottawa resident Frances Woodward is appealing a decision by her local transit authority that prevents her from bringing Gyno, her pet albino ferret, along on bus rides. Woodward, an agoraphobic, claims that petting the animal calms her down. We think she'd fit right in on the No. 22 bus.

    3. Want to send Aunt Agatha into cardiac arrest? Then follow the hot new trend of topping your wedding cake with updated versions of the classic bride-and-groom statuette - shown attempting to consummate the marriage or wearing NASCAR uniforms. Next: both at the same time.

    4. This week beauty salon owner John Ho got almost as much press as Barack Obama when Ho unveiled the ultimate in "green" pedicures - one that makes your feet part of the food chain. You dip your tootsies in a tank filled with a swarm of tiny fishes that nibble away the dead skin. Next: how to prevent athlete's fish.

    5. Turns out that inflation isn't the only remnant of the 70s to darken the horizon. Jumpsuits are staging a comeback, too. I guess it's Sex Machine chic.

    -

    Stephanie B. Goldberg brings you the Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week every Friday.

    Posted by Lou at 09:03 AM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    "Presumptuous or not, the campaign spared no detail - providing giant cranes for camera crews to get crowd shots - to capture images intended to present Obama on a world stage as he has never been seen before, even as Obama protested that he was speaking not as a presidential candidate but as a 'citizen'," Lynn Sweet writes.

    Lord. Ich bin nacht ein candidater!

    "Obama is on a nine-day overseas campaign swing designed to help plug holes in his foreign policy resume and blunt any perceptions among U.S. voters of a stature gap."

    Again, I'm still waiting for someone to tell me how stagecraft plugs holes in resumes. We're in for the ultimate illusionary presidency.

    Political Calculation
    "Under criticism for canceling a planned visit with wounded U.S soldiers under treatment at a base in Germany, the Barack Obama campaign said today that they made the decision after the Pentagon advised them that the visit would be considered a campaign event," the Tribune reports.

    "The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign," campaign official Robert Gibbs said.

    Funny, here's what Gibbs said just a few days ago: "The trip is not at all a campaign trip, a rally of any sort."


    *

    Lynn Sweet has a terrific collection of photos, videos and stories from the trip on her blog, by the way, showing in a small way why 3-D journalism is obviously superior to 2-D journalism.

    Traffic Code
    "Civil rights groups called Thursday for ending the state police practice of searching vehicles during routine traffic stops, citing new statistics that show black and Hispanic motorists are searched more often even though drugs or other illegal items turn up more frequently among white drivers," the Tribune reports.

    And those aren't just raw numbers. The study shows that 24.6 percent of searches of white people among participating agencies statewide yielded contraband, while only 13.8 percent of searches of blacks and 11.3 percent of searches of Hispanics did.

    Prince of Pedestrians
    "The homeless pedestrian who was struck by a car driven by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak said in a radio interview yesterday that he is 'doing fine,' recovering from a dislocated shoulder, and voiced surprise and amusement that the prominent political pundit was at the wheel of the Chevrolet Corvette that hit him," the Washington Post reports.

    "'Bob Novak is the one that hit me?' said 86-year-old Don Clifford Liljenquist, sounding astonished when WMAL (630 AM) reporter Troy Russell told him that the driver was Novak. 'Well, everybody knows who Bob Novak is! He's a famous journalist! . . . I was struck by Bob Novak? . . . Well, I think that makes it a great story!'"

    *

    Maybe Novak thought he was Joe Wilson.

    *

    At least Novak sent the guy a card.

    Ann Marie's World
    Wow, if the excerpt Chicago Tonight ran last night of tonight's John Callaway interview of departed Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski was the best tease they could come up with, it's one helluva boring interview. Just like the paper!

    About Sam Zell, Ann Marie said, "My dealings with him were limited," adding that "he didn't come up through the newspaper industry."

    I've got news for you: Neither did Dennis FitzSimons!

    He was a broadcast guy.

    Paradise Internet
    Styx - minus the estranged Dennis DeYoung - sang the 7th-inning stretch at Wrigley last night. Guitarist James Young then sat in with Len & Bob for the bottom half of the inning and one thing he said in particular struck me: Young said that while the Internet has impacted the record industry, it has also given Styx - and other bands - new life because they can be discovered by new fans.

    The Internet is a superior distribution system; the less any of us have to rely on the radio or record stores - and God bless the great ones - for exposure to bands, the better. More bands having a better chance of being heard is a great thing.

    That's Neil
    "Some Fear Flouride, Too."

    1. Steinberg complains about stupid people who "find innovation so frightening." You know, like the way Steinberg is frightened by the Internet.

    2. Steinberg complains about "once-respected scientists [who] are making sweeping public statements based on nothing." I'm skeptical about links between cell phones and cancer too, but the doctor who is the subject of Steinberg's complaint A) didn't make a sweeping statement but a cautionary one and B) didn't base his statement on nothing but on data that has yet to be published but does, in fact, exist.

    3. Steinberg thinks he's written an original joke that George W. Bush is proof that anyone can grow up to be president.

    Foul Ball
    Right. And if Bartman offered the Sun-Times editorial board an interview, would they refuse it, or just be disappointed as they conducted it?

    *

    One thing Steve Bartman's got in exchange for all the grief he's taken: economic security.

    Video Vixens
    * Our smash hit "We Can't Wait 100 Years" is now out on video!
    * Citizen Kate's voter registration drive.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Share the glory.

    Posted by Lou at 08:40 AM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: I Kissed A Girl

    No, not this one. This one!

    It seems to have gone forgotten in all the rage, but it's a thousand times better.

    Released: October 1995
    Album: Jill Sobule
    Length: 3:13

    *

    From Wikipedia:

    "The song 'I Kissed a Girl' was banned from many radio stations in southern American states due to its controversial lyrics wherein Sobule describes her character cheating on her boyfriend with a female friend. In response to the banning, Sobule jokingly reminisced: 'I felt like Ice-T [with his song] Cop Killer."

    *

    The song reached 67 on the Billboard Hot Tracks chart.

    *

    LYRICS:

    Genny came over and told me 'bout Fred
    "He's such a hairy behemoth," she said
    "Dumb as a box of hammers
    But he's such a handsome guy."
    And I opened up and told her 'bout Larry
    And yesterday how he asked me to marry
    I'm not giving him an answer yet
    I think I can do better

    So we laughed
    Compared notes
    We had a drink, we had a smoke
    She took off her overcoat
    I kissed a girl
    I kissed a girl

    So she called home to say she'd be late
    He said he'd worried but now he feels safe
    "I'm glad you're with your girlfriend, tell her Hi for me "
    So I looked at you, you had guilt in your eyes
    But it only lasted a little while
    And then I felt your hand above my knee

    And we laughed at the world
    They can have their diamonds
    And we'll have our pearls
    I kissed a girl
    I kissed a girl

    I kissed a girl, her lips were sweet
    She was just like kissing me
    I kissed a girl, won't change the world
    But I'm so glad I kissed a girl

    And we laughed at the world
    They can have their diamonds
    And we'll have our pearls
    I kissed a girl
    For the first time
    I kissed a girl
    And I may do it again
    I kissed a girl
    I kissed a girl

    I kissed a girl her lips were sweet
    She was just like kissing me
    But better

    I kissed a girl
    Won't change the world
    But I'm so glad
    I kissed a girl
    For the first time
    I kissed a girl

    *

    From today's New York Times Arts Listings:

    JILL SOBULE (Wednesday): Years before the nascent pop star Katy Perry sang lasciviously about kissing a girl, Jill Sobule parlayed the notion into a quirky hit: in 1995, Ms. Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl," with its strummed guitars and sweet lyrics, earned her passing infamy. Now Ms. Sobule, an accomplished singer and songwriter, has released her seventh album, Jill Sobule Sings Prozak and the Platypus," the soundtrack to a play ("Prozak and the Platypus") she helped write. At 9:30 p.m., Joe's Pub, at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, East Village, (212) 967-7555, joespub.com; $18. (Petrusich).

    *

    Priceless Amateur Katy Parry video:

    -

    Previously in Song of the Moment:
    * Iron Man
    * The Story of Bo Diddley
    * Teach Your Children
    * Dream Vacation
    * When The Levee Breaks

    Posted by Lou at 06:02 AM | Permalink

    Gary Slutkin's Campaign Contributions

    Here are the campaign contributions to state lawmakers made by CeaseFire executive director Gary Slutkin, according records from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    8/1/2001
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    8/22/2002
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL 60610
    $200.00
    6/10/2003
    Individual Contribution
    Friends of Iris Y Martinez

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    10/28/2003
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens to Elect Karen Yarbrough

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    10/28/2003
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Cynthia Soto

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    12/29/2003
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $500.00
    6/9/2004
    Individual Contribution
    Friends of Blagojevich

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    6/30/2005
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Claypool

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    6/30/2005
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Maldonado

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    1/18/2005
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    10/18/2005
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Cynthia Soto

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    11/7/2005
    Individual Contribution
    Friends of Lou Jones

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    3/10/2006
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Claypool

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    6/28/2006
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens to Elect Karen Yarbrough

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    8/8/2006
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    10/3/2006
    Individual Contribution
    Friends of Linda Chapa LaVia

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $250.00
    10/30/2007
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens to Elect Karen Yarbrough

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    12/15/2007
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Esther Golar

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    8/10/2007
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens For Davis

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    Occupation: Medical Doctor Professor
    Employer: University of Chicago at Illinois School of Public Health
    $700.00
    12/15/2007
    Individual Contribution
    Moreno for Senate

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    Occupation: Medical Doctor Professor
    Employer: University of Chicago at Illinois School of Public Health
    $1,500.00
    12/30/2007
    Individual Contribution
    Moreno for Senate

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $250.00
    5/29/2008
    Individual Contribution
    Friends of Julie Hamos

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $250.00
    1/25/2008
    Individual Contribution
    Friends of Don Harmon

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    10/25/2007
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens to Elect Eddie Washington

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    Occupation: Doctor
    Employer: UIC
    $500.00
    6/30/2008
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL 60610
    $250.00
    1/31/2008
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Deborah L Graham

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $200.00
    2/1/2008
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Donne Trotter

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    Occupation: Medical Doctor Professor
    Employer: University of Chicago at Illinois School of Public Health
    $1,500.00
    1/5/2008
    Moreno for Senate

    *

    NOTE: Each of the above contributions listed the same Chicago address, which I've deleted. These are the two earliest contributions by a Gary Slutkin listed under a different address.


    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $150.00
    8/10/1999
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin, Gary
    Chicago, IL
    $250.00
    7/27/2000
    Individual Contribution
    Citizens for Lisa Madigan

    *

    Slutkin has also made some federal contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    SLUTKIN, GARY
    CHICAGO, IL
    CEASEFIRE/EXECUTIVE
    9/20/07
    $250
    Rush, Bobby L (D)

    *

    SLUTKIN, GARY MR
    CHICAGO, IL
    ULC-SPH/PUBLIC HEALTH MD
    3/28/08
    $1,000
    Obama, Barack (D)

    *

    SLUTKIN, GARY MR
    CHICAGO, IL
    12/8/07
    $500
    Davis, Danny K (D)

    Posted by Lou at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    July 24, 2008

    Registration Drive

    Lose weight and do your civic duty at the same time.

    See the Citizen Kate collection!

    Posted by Lou at 03:37 PM | Permalink

    The [Thursday] Papers

    UPDATE 2:54 P.M.: Friday Night With John Callaway will feature an interview with recently departed Chicago Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski this week. You can see an excerpt tonight on Chicago Tonight.

    *

    Gov. Baloneyvich
    "The confusing controversy over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision to give $1 million in state assistance following the Pilgrim Baptist Church fire has a new twist - the founder of the private Chicago school that got the money is contradicting the governor's statement about what happened," the Tribune reports.

    Will the last person in the state who hasn't been lied to by the governor turn the lights out?

    Top Doc
    "While on the county payroll, a top urologist at Cook County Hospital solicited nearly $1 million from drug companies over the last decade for his private foundation," the Sun-Times reports. "Dr. Paul S. Ray's pitch was that the money would go toward medical research and education. But most of the money hasn't gone to health care at all. Instead, Ray invested it - mostly in Tony Rezko."

    Tony Rezko, the Keyser Soze of Illinois politics.

    Obamalympics
    "Sen. Barack Obama's campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal's Olympics coverage. In the first significant network-TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads," Ad Age reports.

    A) He'll also compete in the pole vault.
    B) In return, the IOC will add a sixth "O" to its logo.
    C) Doctors warn that HDTV owners could suffer radiation burns from the unprecedented collision of hype.

    *

    Meanwhile, First Read has a compilation of Obama overseas frenzy links, including "blow-out" coverage from Der Spiegel.

    Prince of Blindness
    Bob Novak says he didn't see the pedestrian he hit with his car on Wednesday.

    The bicyclist-witness who chased Novak down says otherwise.

    "The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield," David Bono tells Politico.

    "Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a 'Walk' signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. 'This car is speeding away. What's going through my mind is, you just can't hit a pedestrian and drive away,' Bono said.

    "He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street, finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blaring, until commuters behind Novak backed up so he could pull over.

    "Bono said that throughout, Novak 'keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go.' He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a news personality but could not precisely place him.

    "Finally, Bono said, Novak put his head out the window of his car and motioned him over. Bono said he told him that you can't hit a pedestrian and just drive away. He quoted Novak as responding: 'I didn't see him there.'"

    Daley News
    "News media too often portray communities as crime-ridden, Mayor Daley told journalists at McCormick Place on Wednesday," the Sun-Times reports (third item).

    Instead, they should ignore those communities and focus on downtown, he advised.

    "'Don't look at the politician," Daley said.

    Nothing to see here.

    "Look at the journalists and what they are reporting continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

    Um, like what they are reporting about politicians?

    "You have to be able to balance."

    Deceit with shamelessness, that is.

    "WLS-Channel 7's Linda Yu, co-host of the UNITY '08 ceremony, responded: 'Thank you for the reminder.'"

    And then she bent over and said, "Thank you, sir, may I have another."

    Todd Squad
    Todd Stroger is doing a "damn good job," and McDonald's is lovin' it!

    Blaming Bartman
    I knew Steve Bartman was back in the news when we saw a little traffic spike for "Go Blame It On Bartman."

    Saving Holtzman
    "Like so many who worked with him, I respected and loved Jerry Holtzman," Michael Davis writes. "That may explain the pain of awakening Tuesday morning to read his obituary posted on the Tribune's Web site. The story suggested Jerry had been run out of the Sun-Times in 1981, into the welcoming arms of the Tribune. It implied he had been a victim of neglect at the hands of know-nothing editors on Wabash Avenue.

    "While it's true Jerry was shunted aside in the mid-1970s by sports editor Lewis Grizzard, within a few years his career bounced back as if he had Flubber on his heels."

    Meanwhile, the Reader's Ted Cox writes that "[T]he world is a diminished place with the death of Jerome Holtzman, but the press box not so much. And if you think I'm being unnecessarily hard on the journalistic dead, just be glad I didn't have access to a blog when Steve Neal died."

    Wrigley On Ice
    Take Me Outside To The Hawks Game.

    Holdout Hester
    Sure, he's holding out, but we still believe The Hester Man Can!

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Panning for gold.

    Posted by Lou at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Barshomba And The Green Bunny

    BARSHOMBA AND THE GREEN BUNNY

    "Yeah, man," Mr. DeFourneaux began,
    "Me and Barshomba had
    the One Love Peace
    Band.

    You heard of the Chitlin'
    Circuit? South Side, you know,
    Bonanza, Peppers,
    Rock, Castle Rock,

    Checkmate, the Green Bunny?
    77th and Halsted in the
    early '70s. South Side,
    you know: Sam Cooke,
    Herbie Hancock, Ramsay

    Lewis, Minnie Riperton.
    Barshomba had dreads
    down to his ass, you know.
    You heard of

    Haile Selassie? (FUCK
    yeah, man, I'm hip to
    Haile. JAH RASTAFARI!). Anyway, I was wearin'
    dashikis, had an afro

    (DUDE: I GOTTA see a picture
    of you with an afro!)
    Anyway, we was goin' to the
    Green Bunny to do a gig,

    cuz we hard Marvin Gaye
    liked to hang out there after
    his shows. I was playin'
    marimbas, timables,

    congas, bongos, man,
    we're loadin' all this shit
    it two cars. We get to
    the Green Bunny and - man,

    I ain't goan lie - the motherfucker
    was CLOSED, man, and I mean
    FOR GOOD. I was like 'God-
    DAY-UM ain't that a bitch!

    Well, after awhile, I shaved
    off my 'fro, and I don't think
    Barshomba liked that, cuz I only
    saw him one mo' thyme after

    Bob Marley opened for the Stones
    at the Stadium, you know,
    Barshomba was hangin' backstage
    with Bunny Wailer - you know

    Bunny Wailer? (Fuck YEAH
    I'm hip to Bunny). Well,
    anyways, we was also playin'
    with Sons of Slum, Bosco, the
    Sparkle Plenty Gypsy Band,

    they had Chaka Khan playin'
    drums with a double-bass, man,
    she was BAD, man, you know,
    like Twinkie Floorwood from

    Funkadelic? Then Chaka hooked
    up with Helicopter, then finally
    got up with, man, what was the name
    of that band? (Rufus, bro.) RIGHT,

    man, Rufus, and she had
    that big hit, uh, what was
    it? 'Tell Me Somethin' Good,'
    MAN, they was BAD, you know.

    Yeah, we had some good times
    until I shaved off that 'fro,
    man, yeah, man, ha ha ha . . . "

    -

    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 08:06 AM | Permalink

    Take Me Outside To The Hawks Game

    The NHL announced this week that the league's second annual Winter Classic outdoor game will be held at Wrigley Field between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings. Here are some of the details.

    * Urinal troughs will be heated to prevent "urine-bergs."

    * Old Style popsicles: $6.25.

    * Left field bleachers to throw snowballs up toward the corporate A-holes sitting in the rooftops. Corporate A-holes to throw back balled up loan papers from foreclosed homes.

    * Nets to be installed to protect those sitting under the upper level from falling icicles.

    * Fans sitting in the left field bleachers will continue their streak of 242 games of not paying attention to the game.

    *Chicago police will experience a revenue surge after fans write their names and address in the snow while urinating in Wrigleyville alleys.

    * The Cubby Bear will change its name to the Blackhawk Bear and hold Mullet Night.

    * The cryogenically frozen body of Harry Caray will sing the second-intermission stretch. One of these versions of the song will be chosen.

    1.
    Take me outside to the hockey game,
    Take me out to the cold
    Buy me hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps,
    I'm half in the bag before the first puck drops,
    For it's root root root for the Blackhawks,
    If they don't win, it's the same,
    For it's one, two, three degrees below
    At the old hockey game.

    2.
    Take me out to the Hawks game
    Take me out to the cold
    Wearing no shirts out at Wrigley Field
    Frostbite your wienie for the ol' highlight reel
    For it's freeze, freeze, freezing your face off
    If you can't speak it's a shame,
    For I'm drunk, cold and almost passed out
    At the outdoor Hawks game.

    3.
    Take me out to da Wrigley
    Take me out to da Field
    Buy me a toque and a cold Labatt's
    I don't care if I freeze off my nuts
    For it's root root root for a quick game
    If it's overtime I'm in pain
    'Cause it's January in Chicago
    And hockey's an inside game

    - Eric Emery, Rick Kaempfer, Marty Gangler, Steve Rhodes

    Posted by Lou at 07:46 AM | Permalink

    July 23, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    I'm attending to other matters this morning; the Papers will appear this afternoon or return tomorrow. And don't forget Division Street for an extra fix.

    Also, we do have today a Beachwood Exclusive: Inside Brian Urlacher's contract.

    The [Tuesday] Papers
    1. "For presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the political goals of visiting seven countries over nine days - maximizing media coverage along the way in a series of staged events with dramatic visual backdrops - is to plug his resume gap and show him on an equal footing with world leaders," Lynn Sweet writes.

    I love how you can plug a foreign policy gap these days by making a few campaign stops overseas. It's the "new kind of experience."

    2. "Though many details of the trip were cloaked in secrecy, the Obama campaign arranged interviews not only with the three major network anchors - but 'exclusives' with other TV news heavyweights, one for almost each day of the trip," Sweet continues.

    "Sunday was CBS in Afghanistan with Lara Logan; Monday ABC in Iraq with Terry Moran; Tuesday, CBS Kitty Couric in Amman; Wednesday, ABC's Charlie Gibson in Jerusalem; Thursday, NBC's Brian Williams in Berlin and Saturday in London, Fox's Bill Hemmer and NBC's Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw. This way, each outlet has 'their' day. Obama appeared on CNN's Larry King Live in the run-up publicity to the trip."

    And somewhere in between his media appearances Obama will squeeze in a few meetings with foreign leaders.

    3. The similarities to Bush grow by the day. Next he'll authorize spying on Americans . . . oh, wait.

    4. "The Obama campaign is planning a big public rally in a major park in Berlin on Thursday. Thousands of Germans are anticipated to attend when presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivers what is being billed as a 'substantive' speech on Trans-Atlantic relations. Yet campaign top advisors Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod insist this is not a campaign event though it is conceived, organized, financed and executed by the campaign," Lynn Sweet also writes.

    Change you can believe in as long as you're not looking straight at it.

    5. This isn't quite what I had in mind for this poll in regards to how I was trying to structure the "other" option, but have at it anyway and leave comments - that was really supposed to be the key. Like, maybe tell us what each of the contestants would bring.

    6. What does it take to get a cop fired? A helluva lot more than it takes to get you fired.

    7. "The Daley administration is forging ahead with planning for a new western terminal at O'Hare Airport - though it doesn't yet have the money to design or build it and is not sure exactly how it would be used," the Sun-Times reports.

    Maybe it could be used as the new CTA Superstation.

    8. Obama's recently published Op-Ed in the New York Times on Iraq was a nicely reasoned piece, but the subsequent rejection of John McCain's response illustrates one of many reasons why publishing press releases from candidates and office-holders as Op-Eds is a bad idea. Let 'em buy an ad.

    9. "Magna Global last week announced that the age of the average network-TV viewer has reached the 50-year mark," Ad Age reports.

    So only a few years younger now than the average newspaper reader.

    *

    Redesigning newspapers, by the way, as the Trib is now doing, will not garner many new readers no matter how snappy. It's too late for that. The cycle of habit has been broken. The purpose of the print product now ought to be as a supplement to the website. And putting consumer and entertainment news front and center is an awful idea. Strip the paper down to news and news only. You can't compete with stale entertainment news. Then develop new print products, like a sports weekly, a photo weekly, a local Onion . . . it's time for newspapers - and their websites - to disaggregate. Ironic, isn't it?

    *

    But really, the entire newsroom should now work for the website, and every night a small group of editors should pluck the most important news stories from the website and place them into the newspaper.

    10. This is terrible news for Chicagoans, but the paper's dismantling began long ago. And you know what? When they came for the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And when they came for the Hartford Courant, the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And when they came for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And when they came for the Los Angeles Times - over and over and over again - the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And you know how this ends: when they came for the Chicago Tribune, there was nobody left to speak up for the Chicago Tribune.

    *

    We have openings at the Beachwood, though. Just think what we could do if we skimmed the cream of the laid off, fired, resigned crop. Seriously.

    11. The Tribune's tribute to Jerome Holtzman today recalls how the Sun-Times chased him off in 1981.

    12. The Droll World of James Warren.

    13. More Thoughts On What To Do When Faced With A CTA Perv.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Less talk, more action.

    Posted by Lou at 08:38 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Special Urlacher Contract Edition

    After painstaking work, the crack Beachwood legal and document retrieval team has acquired the lesser known details of Brian Urlacher's new contract. Do you think its easy being an NFL star? Imagine having to live up to these stipulations. Gladly, Urlacher has handled himself with the highest level of class, so I believe none of these will pose much of a problem. Here are the highlights:

    * Be on-call 24/7 to serve as Lance Briggs' designated driver.

    * Once released, Urlacher retains all promotional and figure-action rights to the Paris Hilton sex tape. Also known as the George Lucas Rule.

    * Required to give full answers to all reporters' questions, unless one of these phrases appears in the question: "arthritic back", "offensive futility", "missing Cedric Benson", "poor receivers", "quarterback controversy", "once proud Bears defense", "what are you getting all your kids (and I do mean all) for Christmas", and "have you thought about a condom?".

    * Will receive a performance bonus every time John Madden names Urlacher "an elite linebacker" or "somebody the Bears still can rebuild around."

    * Must refer to Matt Forte by his name and never by any of the following: "Bozo the Clown," "Matt Pianissimo," "Will Forte's brother." or "the guy that we drafted instead of Rashard Mendenhall."

    * Must serve as one of four Bears to carry Devin Hester and his portable throne from the tunnel to the bench. Hopefully the gesture will keep Chicago's best player here after Hester is told "we cannot afford to pay you, especially after we had to pay Urlacher."

    * Will be required to sign 25 items before or after every home game: shirts, jerseys, photos, footballs. Not required to sign: Maternity shirts, toddler-sized jerseys, kindergarten school photos, and footballs part of any paternity settlement.

    * Will not be required to fill the hole for running plays up the middle. Instead, Urlacher will retain the right to call in stunt double for all unpleasant run-stopping situations.

    * Required to act like he loves the fans of Chicago until he grows unhappy with his new contract.

    * Urlacher is now required to thank Barack Obama instead of God for giving him the ability to succeed.

    * Must hug Lovie Smith after every game and assure him that "Everything will be alright. We tried, and gosh darn it, if we keep trying, we'll get this thing turned around."

    -

    For more Emery, see the Kool-Aid archive, and the Over/Under archive. Emery accepts comments from Bears fans reluctantly and everyone else tolerably.

    Posted by Lou at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    July 22, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    1. "For presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the political goals of visiting seven countries over nine days - maximizing media coverage along the way in a series of staged events with dramatic visual backdrops - is to plug his resume gap and show him on an equal footing with world leaders," Lynn Sweet writes.

    I love how you can plug a foreign policy gap these days by making a few campaign stops overseas. It's the "new kind of experience."

    2. "Though many details of the trip were cloaked in secrecy, the Obama campaign arranged interviews not only with the three major network anchors - but 'exclusives' with other TV news heavyweights, one for almost each day of the trip," Sweet continues.

    "Sunday was CBS in Afghanistan with Lara Logan; Monday ABC in Iraq with Terry Moran; Tuesday, CBS Kitty Couric in Amman; Wednesday, ABC's Charlie Gibson in Jerusalem; Thursday, NBC's Brian Williams in Berlin and Saturday in London, Fox's Bill Hemmer and NBC's Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw. This way, each outlet has 'their' day. Obama appeared on CNN's Larry King Live in the run-up publicity to the trip."

    And somewhere in between his media appearances Obama will squeeze in a few meetings with foreign leaders.

    3. The similarities to Bush grow by the day. Next he'll authorize spying on Americans . . . oh, wait.

    4. "The Obama campaign is planning a big public rally in a major park in Berlin on Thursday. Thousands of Germans are anticipated to attend when presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivers what is being billed as a 'substantive' speech on Trans-Atlantic relations. Yet campaign top advisors Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod insist this is not a campaign event though it is conceived, organized, financed and executed by the campaign," Lynn Sweet also writes.

    Change you can believe in as long as you're not looking straight at it.

    5. This isn't quite what I had in mind for this poll in regards to how I was trying to structure the "other" option, but have at it anyway and leave comments - that was really supposed to be the key. Like, maybe tell us what each of the contestants would bring.

    6. What does it take to get a cop fired? A helluva lot more than it takes to get you fired.

    7. "The Daley administration is forging ahead with planning for a new western terminal at O'Hare Airport - though it doesn't yet have the money to design or build it and is not sure exactly how it would be used," the Sun-Times reports.

    Maybe it could be used as the new CTA Superstation.

    8. Obama's recently published Op-Ed in the New York Times on Iraq was a nicely reasoned piece, but the subsequent rejection of John McCain's response illustrates one of many reasons why publishing press releases from candidates and office-holders as Op-Eds is a bad idea. Let 'em buy an ad.

    9. "Magna Global last week announced that the age of the average network-TV viewer has reached the 50-year mark," Ad Age reports.

    So only a few years younger now than the average newspaper reader.

    *

    Redesigning newspapers, by the way, as the Trib is now doing, will not garner many new readers no matter how snappy. It's too late for that. The cycle of habit has been broken. The purpose of the print product now ought to be as a supplement to the website. And putting consumer and entertainment news front and center is an awful idea. Strip the paper down to news and news only. You can't compete with stale entertainment news. Then develop new print products, like a sports weekly, a photo weekly, a local Onion . . . it's time for newspapers - and their websites - to disaggregate. Ironic, isn't it?

    *

    But really, the entire newsroom should now work for the website, and every night a small group of editors should pluck the most important news stories from the website and place them into the newspaper.

    10. This is terrible news for Chicagoans, but the paper's dismantling began long ago. And you know what? When they came for the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And when they came for the Hartford Courant, the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And when they came for Newsday, the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And when they came for the Los Angeles Times - over and over and over again - the Chicago Tribune didn't say anything. And you know how this ends: when they came for the Chicago Tribune, there was nobody left to speak up for the Chicago Tribune.

    *

    We have openings at the Beachwood, though. Just think what we could do if we skimmed the cream of the laid off, fired, resigned crop. Seriously.

    11. The Tribune's tribute to Jerome Holtzman today recalls how the Sun-Times chased him off in 1981.

    12. The Droll World of James Warren.

    13. More Thoughts On What To Do When Faced With A CTA Perv.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Less talk, more action.


    Posted by Lou at 09:03 AM | Permalink

    The Droll World of James Warren

    Droll.

    1. "Thomas Frank is a brainy, droll Kansas native who has his doubts about capitalism and conservative populism, and can infuriate both Democrats and Republicans.
    - July 21, 2008

    2. "But Flanagan's review of Walters' new memoir, Audition, is a superb, droll essay on a person ridiculed by the press elite who has 'elicited more irreducible statements of self from more notable people than have all the giants of New Journalism.'"
    - May 12, 2008

    3. "July Esquire is excellent with a novella from Stephen King; a valiant Tom Junod attempt to offer a few insights on Angelina Jolie we've not read before; and a droll shot at competitor Vanity Fair with a page of mock covers of "Other Magazines Bono is Guest Editing This Month," including Disney Adventures, Us Weekly, Cosmopolitan and Delta's in-flight Sky (replete with "The Ten Most Egregious Sweatshops in Vietnam."
    - June 18, 2007

    4. "Slate.com is worth a very droll video, Nino Scalia IS Jack Bauer, with the online magazine's cartoon imagining Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia starring as Bauer in 24 and starting his day threatening the life of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the frequent swing vote on the court these days, getting him to promise he will stop caring what liberals and the New York Times editorial page think of him."
    - October 15, 2007

    5. "And the cover features maniacally droll Comedy Central show host Stephen Colbert sawing through an iPod and promoting his own contribution."
    - July 31, 2006

    6. "In recent episodes of Gilmore Girls, the wonderfully droll favorite of teens and their moms on the WB Network, a coup d'tat at the Yale Daily News brought the firing of the tyrannical undergraduate editor."
    - June 2006

    7. "June-July Details has a droll Jeff Wise opus on how he relented, learned the tricks of the trade and served as a male stripper for a day at a chum's bachelorette party."
    - July 5, 2004

    8. "Elsewhere, the issue draws laughs with very droll Christopher Buckley's fictional tale on a Washington publicist who takes on a billionaire client whose aim is simple: elect an American pope."
    - March 24, 2003

    9. "Columns that were 'snappy and sharp and kind of droll and maybe a little bit cynical . . . were very often instantly perceived as unappealing, and didn't have the sort of air of authority and neutrality which they tend to associate with Ann Landers'."
    - January 8 , 2003

    10. "Sept. 3 Weekly Standard includes Andrew Ferguson's stout and droll defense of President [Bush]'s apparently favorite book (judging by his quoting it all the time before schoolchildren), namely The Very Hungry Caterpillar."
    - Aug. 31, 2001

    11. "In March 12 New Yorker, Adam Gopnik crafts a droll dissection of the weird New York gun possession trial of rap mogul Puff Daddy, which he finds 'keeps returning, strangely but inexorably, to questions of tailoring.'"
    - March 9, 2001

    12. "Writer Hillary Johnson's droll 'Driving to the Boardroom' opens with all the usual data about guys and golf, with one survey of Fortune 500 chief executive officers indicating that 98 percent described themselves as golfers."
    - May 26, 2000

    13. "Ever engaging and droll, the 61-year-old ex-Republican stalwart made the following points during a session at a home whose small bar area features dandy behind-the-scenes photos of President Reagan and [Pat] Buchanan amid the breakup of the historic Reykjavik summit, and Reagan watching a replay of the Challenger explosion, both in 1986 (and both taken by current Tribune photographer Pete Souza, then the official White House snapper)."
    - March 12, 2000

    14. "If there were doubts, they are dispelled in the Nov. 10 issue of National Review, the increasingly snoozy bastion of right-leaning thought. It comes via droll Florence King's critique of both the group and her fellow conservative columnists."
    - October 31, 1997

    15. Alternately droll, irascible, self-righteous, self-pitying and intriguingly coy about longtime CIA ties, Tamraz provided the first vivid look at a largely maligned species during the 6-week-old hearing: a major political contributor."
    - September 19, 1997

    16. "The surfacing of Kucinich, now a 50-year-old freshman Democratic congressman, as a droll amateur comic came at one of the humongous dinners that bring the capital's media and political establishments together in mind-numbing orgies of smugness and self-congratulation."
    - February 2, 1997

    17. "He's healthy, droll and forever associated with his Baby and Child Care, which was published in May 1946, revised five times and sold a stunning 43 million copies."
    - May 17, 1996

    18. "Well, to be honest, the way it's put by Florence King, a wonderfully droll essayist, in Feb. 12 National Review is thus: 'Any woman who goes on television and discusses her affairs, betrayals, suicide attempts, and vomiting habits, and then says, I'm a very strong person, is an American.'"
    - Feb. 16, 1996

    19. "A Minnesota native, he is an unabashed liberal who has directed the First Couple in two droll spoofs at the Gridiron dinner; the annual homage to Washington's media and political establishment."
    - January 21, 1996

    20. "Well, at least in the mind of Chicago native Sidney Blumenthal, a cerebral and droll Washington-based special political correspondent for The New Yorker magazine and author of a fine book on the 1988 presidential campaign, Pledging Allegiance."
    - January 21, 1996

    21 "But there it is, in Nov. 27 National Review, as droll essayist King offers a dissertation on the 'rogue conscience'."
    - November 17, 1995

    22. "The ever-entertaining, if at times too-droll-by-half, O'Rourke offers a defense of libertarianism and a broadside at the collectivist overreaching he equates (as does the card-carrying liberal Greider to some extent) with government, albeit a tad defensively."
    - June 29, 1995

    23. "Recent well-publicized performances, in debating NAFTA with Ross Perot and being droll (if very premeditated) on David Letterman's show, have helped to deflate his image as a stiff."
    - April 21, 1994

    24. "I was soon followed by Novak, whose fearsome TV persona ('Prince of Darkness' is a nickname) was belied by magnanimity in greeting me, a stranger, and launching into droll recollections of the then-resolutely right-wing Tribune bureau when he got to Washington 36 years ago as a wire service reporter."
    - January 9, 1994

    25. "Anyway, she's droll here, conceding that she has been caught smoking about a dozen times, panicked at her first sight of in-flight phones (she thought people could call her), and much prefers friends with private jets ('in a friend a good personality trait is a Gulfstream')."
    - January 6, 1994

    26. "Husni, 40, a droll Lebanese Christian raised in Tripoli, Lebanon, knows this media errata better than anyone because, besides teaching journalism at the University of Mississippi, he chronicles new magazines with the specificity Margaret Mead used in inspecting child-rearing on Samoa."
    - March 11, 1993

    27. "Von Hoffman's is a droll essay on books and politicians, who 'by and large don't read'."
    - February 11, 1993

    28. "Stevens, 37, recently left her job running a public relations firm and, with four partners (three straights and one gay), started Cardthartic Inc., 814 N. Franklin St. It relies on lesbian and gay artists and writers to produce genteel and droll cards found in about 75 mostly gay-oriented stores in 30 states."
    - November 29, 1992

    29. "Was this, I asked, the Paul Brancato who since 1987 has created provocative, and informative, trading cards on events rife with collusion and intrigue, including John Kennedy's assassination, the Iran-Contra scandal, and worldwide drug wars; cards with a droll and leftish - or, as he prefers, 'humanist' - thrust, found in comic book and alternative book stores nationwide?"
    - September 27, 1992

    30. "Unfortunately, 'they weren't part of our elite distribution force,' said a droll Deford, editor of the paper, too many copies of which, sadly, are being stolen from honor boxes and not enough bought."
    - June 2, 1991

    31. "Meanwhile, the April-May Investment Vision, an imaginative new business publication, has superior economics free-lancer L.J. Davis on the stupidity that helps explain the nation's banking mess; Donald Katz, author of a fine Sears Roebuck & Co. biography, on the 'Holy War' between fundamentalist Southern Baptists and moderates to control $3.2 billion in assets entrusted to Dallas-based Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention; and a droll but serious dissection on the link between the weather and investing. ($2.50, 82 Devonshire St. R25A, Boston, Mass., 02109)"
    - April 11, 1991

    32. "Andy Rooney, a star of CBS' popular 60 Minutes who often begins his commentaries with whiny and droll queries, was suspended for at least three months without pay because of racist remarks attributed to him in a national gay magazine."
    - February 9, 1990

    33. "The article ranges from the droll, including the ways she intentionally tweeks a staid village and the curious attachment the region's citizens have for Oregon, to the melancholy of the Mademoiselle's physical deterioration and the suspicion that change is nipping at her vines and is likely to end her charming era."
    - January 4, 1990

    34. "For the week of June 12, he crafted panels on the protest that would have seemed typically droll if it hadn't been for the bloody government measures taken shortly after he sent the strips to Universal Press Syndicate for distribution."
    - June 8, 1989

    35. "The June Esquire offers a fine mix of the damning (via Hayden), the droll (a Michael J. Fox tale) and the melancholy (a Muhammad Ali profile), all of which outshines a cover story on comic Robin Williams."
    - May 25, 1989

    36. "The April Texas Monthly has a neatly droll and revealing look at predicaments for the propertied class and caring friends via Alison Cook's primer on how to act in an era of austerity."
    - April 1, 1987

    37. "The October issue of New England Monthly, one of several regional publications that dwarf Chicago magazine in quality and imagination, profiles this curious human subculture in 'Nerd University.' It's an MIT professor's droll look at the most obsessive inhabitants of a maniacally rigorous world."
    - October 8, 1986

    38. "The June issue of House & Garden highlights the daunting social predicament via a droll tale, 'Tipping in America.' It's by Alexander Cockburn, a talented journalist known for his refinement, rage and fervently leftist analyses of political affairs."
    - May 22, 1985


    Posted by Lou at 04:15 AM | Permalink

    The Periodical Table

    Setting aside the Obama story (for now), the now-famed issue of the New Yorker is noteworthy on a couple of other counts.

    This piece of artwork in the art listings caught my eye. It's by Pepe Villegas, and it's called "Sears Tower, 1997."

    SearsTower.jpg

    It's from an exhibition Villegas has running at the Charles Cowles Gallery in Chelsea. Here's what his website says about it:

    "The exhibition, The Will of an Epoch, consists of the first series of photographic assemblage of architectural iconic structures that objectify the identity and consciousness of a moment in modern society.

    "The chosen eight structures, from the architectural expressionism of Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal to the environmental consciousness of Renzo Piano's New York Times Building, embody a physical impression of a manifestation contemporary to its place and time.

    "The title of this series is inspired by a segment of a quote by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who envisioned a need for an architecture expressive of and in harmony with his epoch.

    "This series concept is to personalize and immortalize a visual presentation of popular landmarks, 'highlighted' amidst their urban context by incorporating their character in oneness through the application of vivacious colors from curious angles, emphasizing their identity by a technique that blends both the negative and positive essence, creating a contrasting perception respectively, resulting in a provocative ensemble.

    "Ultimately, to celebrate and acknowledge their iconic relevance, anchoring the observer psychologically in the liveliness of a place and an era of socio-economical transformation in mankind."

    You might also recognize the building used on this invitation.

    Invite.jpg

    Posted by Lou at 03:36 AM | Permalink

    July 21, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    Among the things I haven't made any mileage out of when it comes to Barack Obama is his icy relationships with former state legislative colleagues like Donne Trotter and Rickey Hendon, namely because those guys are boneheads. Obama's modus operandi in Springfield, it seems to me, was to keep his distance from the dirt in order to maintain the viability of his ambitions. That didn't mean standing up to the hacks or leading a reform movement, it just meant not wasting time with clowns unlikely to be useful to his future while waiting for the right opportunity to cleave himself to hack-in-chief Emil Jones.

    So it's kind of painful to read the Obama profiles that inevitably draw the wrong lesson from Obama's dealings with these guys - as an example of his arrogance, aloofness, lack of "blackness". That all just misses the point.

    Trotter and, particularly, Hendon are artless fools. The latest example was bared on the pages of the Tribune on Sunday.

    "The state is squandering taxpayer money on dubious after-school grants, including many that rewarded one lawmaker's political supporters, a Tribune investigation found," Stephanie Banchero and Patricia Callahan report.

    "Powerful Senate Democrats quietly gave out the money to handpicked nonprofits, schools, businesses and churches. The lawmakers funneled the money through the Illinois State Board of Education, which rubber-stamped the choices.

    "But a Tribune investigation found that nearly half of the 48 groups that got money this past school year were running dubious programs, or declined to show how they spent the money. Only 11 of the grants went to established programs with a history of tutoring or mentoring school-age children."

    Classic bumbling, right? But here's the payoff:

    "All of the questionable projects share the same sponsor: West Side Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), who awarded many grants to campaign workers and donors, the investigation found."

    That's Ricky!

    "In some cases, the grantees provided instruction so unorthodox that it's difficult to determine the educational value. The Al Malik Temple for Universal Truth spent its $20,000 to teach children how their birth date and name influence their destiny."

    Especially in Illinois politics.

    Hendon, of course, has a long history of foolishness. Just last February, he "claimed that one of his challengers, Jonathan Singh Bedi, was being secretly funded by al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein," Rich Miller reported at the time.

    Yes, I know.

    Hendon is also on the front lines of getting pay raises for himself and his illustrious colleagues. When Jones needs the dirty work done, Hendon is one of the guys he calls on.

    And what does Hendon have to say for himself?

    "My job is to legislate and appropriate," he told the Trib. "And I am going to appropriate all I can."

    Even to himself.

    Show Them The Money
    "The after-school funding program was launched three years ago in a deal between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and a handful of influential Senate Democrats.

    "The legislative leaders chose recipients before the groups filed applications. The board of education later sent applications and received often-sparse details back. They awarded the money but never visited the programs to see if they existed."

    Persons of Interest
    Both the Tribune and Sun-Times have reported on successive days on both the questioning of a "person of interest" and the release of a "person of interest" in the case of Mya Lyons.

    For the billionth time, "person of interest" is a nonsense phrase that is somewhat equitable to "suspect" and has no business in a work of journalism. Didn't we just learn that DNA evidence has excluded the Ramseys from suspicion in their long-running soap opera? Police question a lot of people during investigations. Reporters are right to track the questioning, but editors are wrong to publish the information before anyone is charged.

    Rod Squad
    On the other hand, isn't the governor officially a "person of interest"?

    Clarification
    I am not the Steve Rhodes mentioned in Richard Roeper's column today. There's some dude on the West Coast with the same name who's been writing about movies and technology for years.

    Broadcast News
    "'If it bleeds, it leads is an axiom in the news business. Meaning: Crime stories draw attention," Andrew Herrmann writes in the Sun-Times this morning.

    Wrong. The axiom means that if a crime story contains even the scent of blood, it leads the broadcast. It's not clear at all, though, that audiences want to watch them.

    Pitchfork Plaudits
    Among the bands that Greg Kot saw over the weekend and cites as "headed for bigger and better things:" Boris.

    I just want to second that emotion.

    In Today's Beachwood
    * Reasons why we love the Brewers and hate the Cardinals.

    * Reasons why the Sox in the second-half will look a lot like the Sox in the first.

    * Reasons why Kyle Orton is the answer.

    * Reasons why Oprah is a conduit to Hell.

    * Reasons to love UFO and any lame tribute band that loves them too.

    * Reasons why J.J. Tindall is dead, fellas.

    Doggie Style
    I think this is the Sun-Times's way of telling reporters they're about to be laid off.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Rough and tumble.

    Posted by Lou at 10:27 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Beachwood Hamlet

    BEACHWOOD HAMLET

    What a rogue and peasant slave am I!
    Too-literate malcontent, recorder of deeds:
    The laws' delay, the insolence of office.

    Yep: sorrows come in battalions, fellas.
    Platoons of knave clowns, festooned with
    Uncles, o'erwatched my Chinamen. Who now

    Bellows "Fie!" upon the squads of Yoricks
    Casting false shadows, belching ghastly ballots
    From the Dead? Presidents grandfathered by

    Murderous incest, mayors crowned by digital
    Machines . . . Alas: I am dead. Report me and my
    Cause to the unsatisfied. The rest is

    Silence.

    -

    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 08:54 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    NFL training camps don't open until the coming week (the Bears' first practice is on Wednesday!), but plenty of prominent writers and yakkers weighed in with all sorts of pre-season palaver the past few days. And it was a week in which Chicago's baseball big-wigs were losing (three-game series' over the weekend), lounging (during the All-Star break) or locked into little roles (at the big game). So let's start the football free-for-all a little early. One issue in particular demands immediate inspection.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor
  • Why are so many national football analysts so absolutely convinced that Kyle Orton won't be a successful NFL quarterback? You cannot find an assessment of the Bears' off-season that doesn't mock the Monsters for not upgrading under center - the obvious implication being that Orton and Rex Grossman have no chance back there. Now, I'm not sure any NFL quarterback could excel with the Bears' current crop of wide receivers, but that's not what folks are talking about. They're dismissing Orton and Grossman without a second thought and killing the Bears for not having brought in someone else.

    So what if even a cursory glance back reminds that there weren't any difference-makers available in free agency this year. I suppose the Bears should have taken a quarterback in the second round of the draft (they weren't taking one in the first with potentially special left tackle Chris Williams available - the only thing loopier than throwing an unprepared young quarterback into the fire is throwing him in there with sub-par protection on his blind side). One problem though: Whoever they might have taken wouldn't have helped this year. And that's what we're talking about right? The 2008 season?

    The Bears' draft pick who has a chance to help this year is the fourth-round one from three years ago. Orton may be a question mark but he is much less of one than the Packers' Aaron Rodgers or the Vikings' Tarvaris Jackson. The former Boilermaker's career has obviously been too short to draw big ol' conclusions, but when Orton has been in command, his team has won.

    Now, this column is predicated on the idea that surely the Bears will go ahead and give their fourth-year signal-caller a shot at the start of the coming season. I haven't tapped into the extreme negativity that has so frequently shadowed Rex Grossman (people often note how long it takes for effective NFL quarterbacks to develop, then turn around and heap scorn on young QBs who don't figure it all out in their first four or five years). Then again, he was bad enough early last season and has been injury-prone enough throughout his career to justify trying our guy. The key numbers are as follows: Orton won 10 games as a starter three years ago and he looked good in his last two starts at the end of last season.

    But those games didn't matter, you say? It's easy to play well when your team is out of contention? But the teams the Bears played in those games (the Packers and the Saints) were still in the mix for home field advantage throughout the playoffs and for a wild card, respectively. There is also Orton's collegiate record. All the guy did was lead Purdue to four straight bowls from 2001-04, throwing about a million passes along the way. The Bears may sign Chris Simms or whoever else but they won't know Ron Turner's system like Orton knows it. Case closed.

    And while I'm here, how can precious sports page space be wasted on ridiculous pictures and stories touting Brett Favre as the answer to the Bears' supposed quarterback woes? If Favre comes back the Bears want to play against him - they've kicked his butt the last few years.

    Creepy Cubs
    At the beginning of last week, I thought if the Cubs could just avoid being swept in series' on the road the rest of the way they would almost certainly win the division or at least clinch the wild card (this squad will keep winning at home - this much I know). Then the Cardinals and the Brewers sweep series' over the weekend to pick up a couple games apiece and a little doubt creeps in. Maybe Kyle Orton could start working on a split-finger fastball.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with the best sports wrap-up in the city. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Lou at 08:42 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    Losing two out of three to the lowly Royals is hardly the way the White Sox wanted to open up the second half of their season. Luckily the Sox still have nine more games against Kansas City before the season ends, games that will go a long way in deciding if the Sox have what it takes to win the AL Central. With that roller coaster of a first half now behind us, let's make some predictions of what to expect from the Sox in the second half.

    * We will continue to see more ridiculously biased White Sox columns from Jay Mariotti. Yeah Jay, we get it: the manager threw a derogatory word at you two seasons ago. Time hasn't healed any wounds for Jay though, as he continues to pile on the organization every chance he gets. "Is anyone out there remotely comfortable with a half-game lead? You shouldn't be," he writes in his latest. "Think the Blizzard of Oz still will be in first place Aug. 1? I don't. . . . The Twins are that good."

    Are the Twins really that good?

    One of the best ways to judge a baseball team, in a sport that involves a lot of luck, is by looking at the run differentials. So far the White Sox have outscored their opponents by 78 runs. The Twins? They're only +33. So no, the Twins really aren't that good.

    * While we're here: I expect Minnesota to fall back to Earth and to make the playoffs as the Sox win the AL Central by at least five games. Something tells me Twins starter Livan Hernandez, he of the Contreras-like 5.29 ERA, won't win 10 games in the second half like he did in the first.

    * Nick Swisher will continue to make up goofy home run celebrations in the second half. That Caption Morgan's style pose he does with Orlando Cabrera? It's only the tip of the iceberg. Let's just hope Swish is as creative as this kid.

    * The next White Sox player to get a statue won't be Jose Contreras, who is set to go on the 15-day DL. What's the opposite of a blessing in disguise?

    * Paul Konerko will continue to dwell in the abyss. Sure, he may be a tad better in the second half- it would actually be more impressive if he could possibly be worse- but I don't see a reason the Sox captain will turn his season around. Good thing he gave the Sox a hometown discount on his 5-year, $60 million contract. We really appreciate it, man.

    * Ozzie Guillen will say five to seven really stupid things. It's tough to call this a prediction, it's more of a fact.

    -

    Week in Review: Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin didn't have a great showing in the All-Star Game, but the AL's victory assures the Cubs won't have home field advantage in the World Series. Small victories, guys. Small victories.

    Week in Preview: A home series against the Rangers is the prelude to 13 straight division games.

    The Missile Tracker: After much coaxing, Alexei finally gave in to team orders and ate a meal over the All-Star break.

    Fields on the Farm: I tried to check out what Fields did this week, but when I went to the Charlotte Knights' official website, the site had expired. I bet that never happens to the Yankee's AAA affiliate.

    Over/Under: 50: The amount of unearned runs the Sox have already allowed this season. The Trib's Phil Rogers thinks Joe Crede's erratic play at third could be a reason why. In other news, the sun is hot.

    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 The Dark Knight, which I will see later tonight, should be more fun than any baseball you'll see this year.

    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 , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.

    Posted by Lou at 08:24 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    The Cardinals and Brewers face off in a big NL Central series this week, so we here at The Cub Factor thought this would be a good time to take a closer look at the Cubs' biggest division rivals.

    *

    CARDS: Named after a bird.
    BREWERS: Named after the people who make beer.

    *

    CARDS: Team color is red, like wine.
    BREWERS: Team color is blue, like beer.

    *

    CARDS: Part of the Budweiser family, which brought you Spuds MacKenzie and Cindy McCain.
    BREWERS: Part of the Miller family, which brought you Man Law and "ingredients not normally found in beer."

    *

    CARDS: Gashouse Gang.
    BREWERS: Harvey's Wallbangers.

    *

    CARDS: Manager gets DUI.
    BREWERS: Manager was once a taxidermist.

    *

    CARDS: Tom Herr.
    BREWERS: Rob Deer.

    *

    BREWERS: Sausage races.
    CARDS: Sausage fest.

    *

    CARDS: Fredbird.
    BREWERS: Bernie Brewer.

    *

    CARDS: Based in St. Louis.
    BREWERS: Based in Milwaukee.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs thumped the Astros on Sunday 9-0 to salvage the final game of a three-game series in Houston coming out of the All-Star break.

    The Week in Preview: Three games in Arizona - including tonight's match-up between Rich Harden and Randy Johnson - followed by four at home against the Marlins.

    The Second Basemen Report: The Second Basemen Report was in all its glory this week as Mighty Mike Fontenot started two games and pinch hit in a third, going 4-for-8 with 3 RBIs and a HR. Ronnie Cedeno got the other start at second, while Mark DeRosa started three straight games in left and played part of one of those games in right.

    In former second basemen news, Eric Patterson is playing for the Sacramento River Cats. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Emotional strain is starting to show. It's just a matter of time.
    zam_gettingAngry.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Kosuke Obama-san is Japanese for "don't believe the hype."

    Sweet and Sour Lou: Lou drops five points on the Sweet-O-Meter to 65 percent sweet, 35 percent sour, due to persistent problems on the road, where the team will spend most of the next few weeks. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou wants to be sympathetic to the foreign exchange student living with you, but as long as he's going to be a drain on the family budget he might as well pitch in with some chores.

    Center Stage: Joltin' Jimmy Edmonds got two starts in Houston and continues to look like a steal. Reed Johnson also got a start, and Kosuke Fukudome saw some time in center as well.

    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 Mighty Mike Fontenot has more power per square inch than anyone in the history of the game.

    Over/Under: The number of days until we learn that Kerry Wood's blister has moved to his shoulder: +/- 1.5.

    Mount Lou: Seismologists report the re-opening of a previously thought dormant fault line running through the Road Ridge in the central region of Louville. Emergency responders should stand by.

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Lou at 07:21 AM | Permalink

    I Shot the Band: XSNRG - Chicago's UFO Tribute

    Band: XSNRG

    Song: "Lights Out"

    YouTube Added Date: July 14, 2008

    Shooter: Jamazz36

    Locale: Berwyn Centennial Festival.

    Video Quality: Excellent

    Sound Quality: Excellent

    Creativity: Better than average. Although members of XSNRG remain relatively stationary, Jamazz36 uses appropriate zooming action during smoking Michael Schenker sound-alike guitar solos.

    Difficulty: Nil. Unfortunately, XSNRG didn't draw much of a crowd so there was little jostling. The result is very steady camera work. Not Kubrick-steady, but definitely Beachwood-steady.

    Overall Beachwood Shaky-Cam Rating: 9 (out of 10)

    Comments: The Berwyn Centennial and a UFO tribute band . . . It's just too delicious of a combination for me to resist. I make no damn apologies.

    And I mean that only semi-ironically. The British metal band's live album Strangers In the Night, I am only somewhat ashamed to admit, underpinned an entire, dubious of way of life for me at a particularly critical juncture around 1980 or so. The double-slab o' hard guitar rock has a lot of meaning for me. Teetering on the precipice of British blues-rock authenticity and the hair-metal cheese that was to come, UFO's magnum opus reflected a tipping point in rock . . . and in my own life. My obsessive interest in all things Michael Schenker led me about as deep as I'd ever get into a lifestyle that was indeed "Too Hot To Handle." Luckily I didn't have enough of a self-destructive streak to "Let It Roll" or I would have been yelling "Doctor Doctor" while seeing "Mother Mary" before my eyes, the last step before it's "Lights Out."

    Oh yeah. I loved UFO way too much. I'll admit it was wrong. But, on the other hand, they're just one of so many things that now seem horribly cliched or inconceivably dumb. Stranger nowadays is almost always characterized as "a lost classic" and "the most underappreciated and greatest live rock album of all time" - that's pretty accurate. Schenker, Phil Mogg, Pete Way and Andy Parker - they had so much potential. They were the best. Why didn't anyone understand? It was like Def Leppard was the undeserving Salieri who took everything that rightfully belonged to UFO's Mozart. Rock 'n' roll is dangerous and cruel, and obscurity is our lot, it seems.

    It took me a long time to get over that.

    The thing that most people remember about UFO, of course, is the absolute guitar wizardry of Michael Schenker. He had a unique ability to combine clear, ringing individual notes with blazing speed and always-interesting phrasing, bringing what was then a new level of sophistication to the hard rock axe. He played a Gibson Flying V (still does, actually), adding a way-impressive visual element to his tremendous knack for always going in an exciting direction musically, no matter how predictable the group's blues-rock patterns might seem to be at the beginning of each new song. He could blast away in tremendous crescendos on songs like "I'm a Loser" or become about as sensitive as a Spinal Tap role-model can possibly be, such as on "Love to Love."

    Given all this, I was highly excited when I discovered, through my exhaustive YouTube research for I Shot the Band, that Berwyn - Berwyn! - has a UFO tribute band, and a highly respectable one at that. They're called XSNRG, and judging from the three YouTube videos (courtesy of Jamazz36) of their performance at the June 18 Berwyn Centennial Festival (direct from the parking lot behind Cermak Plaza), they don't really have the excess energy of the original UFO - in fact, they're pretty stationary. But their instrumentation sounds just like 'em.

    Especially Joe Mazzuca. He's the leader of this band of Berwyn boys and from what I can see on these YouTube files he's a dead ringer for Schenker himself. His guitar playing, that is . . . no long blonde mane, no leathers, no Flying V. No, like all tribute bands, Joe and the rest of the group pretty much look like the elementary school parents they probably are. But when they strap on the tools of rock, it's like they're transformed into 1975-vintage, larger-than-life stage gods hurling bolts of angry sound from a Satanic altar in Jimmy Page's breakfast nook. Mazzuca, in the video of "Lights Out" below, takes Schenker's complex solos and spits them out like a pro. Well done!

    This is from Joe's bio:

    "Joe grew up in Berwyn and started playing guitar at the age of 12. He took guitar lessons from the original guitar player of Styx, the late John Curulewski. Joe totally immersed himself in playing and at times practiced up to 8 hours a day! His hard work and dedication paid off; by the age of 15 he was playing out at shows and had won several 'Battle of the Bands'.

    "Unfortunately, the amount of time he dedicated to playing took its toll and Joe walked away from playing. In the beginning of 2006, a childhood friend convinced him to pick it up again. Immediately the zeal resurfaced and again he's finding it difficult to put his guitar down, even bringing it with him on business trips. Joe's current profession is a tax man. He jokingly tells people that when his day job ends, his night time job begins, practicing and learning new songs! Joe's greatest influence was Michael Schenker, the former lead guitar player from UFO.

    "Joe is divorced with an eight year-old son. He has a loving, understanding, and gorgeous girlfriend, Carol, who is Joe's number one fan!"

    After listening to him do MS proud, I'm putting myself right up with Carol in my nascent Joe Mazzuca fandom.

    Now as to the video itself. Well, Jamazz36, you can tell, didn't just happen to be at the Berwyn Centennial gala with his camera, saw an interesting band, and started shooting. You can tell this because his YouTube favorites page has a slab of other UFO and Michael Schenker videos on it. And some NHL Hockey clips of the "World's Greatest Injuries" variety. Hockey and heavy metal - the two cultural arenas where it's still OK to wear a mullet. God bless 'em.

    Jamazz's camera work is very capable, zooming in on Joe Mazzuca usually when appropriate, although he does focus a bit too much on, what to my way of thinking, is the XSNRG's weak point - the singer, who does only a fair job of channeling Mogg. But he has his moments, too. And the sound is excellent, so crank up the volume and transport yourself from Cermak & Harlem to the International Amphitheater, Oct. 13, 1978, the night UFO recorded Strangers In the Night.

    -

    Previously in I Shot the Band:
    * Company of Thieves: At Welles Park covering OutKast.
    * Funhouse: At Kankakee County's famed fish fry.
    * Lady Tramaine Hawkins: High praise from the Pritzker Pavilion.

    -

    Contact Don!

    Posted by Don at 12:12 AM | Permalink

    July 19, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    While you're busy painting your face and munching popcorn this weekend, we'll be at our usual post.

    Market Update
    Snack futures took a beating this week, with miserable earnings reported on stocks of both salsa and chips. Meanwhile, the long-term strategic partnership between Beer and Pork looks likely to fizzle on the global market.

    Bush-Over
    It's been a banner week for President Bush in his attempts to corral the global forces of terrorism. After an unqualified victory over notorious bad parent North Korea, the U.S. president said he felt sure sustained pressure would eventually coax even the recalcitrant Paris Hilton to settle down.

    Moving On
    President Bush did, however, concede he may soon give up on his long-term relationship with Lindsay Lohan, telling reporters, "I just don't think she's that into me anymore."

    Patrol Control
    Governor Rob Blagojevich has threatened to redeploy Illinois state police to Chicago in an attempt to fight the "out-of-control" crime that threatens so much of our fair state. In response, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis politely noted he's quite confident his force can "smoke out" the main perpetrators.

    Policy Shift
    Finally this week, due to economic pressures facing the weekend satirical reportage industry, the Weekend Desk has decided to stop covering America's increasingly shrill and oversensitive political mini-scandals until they get a bit more, well, Cheeky.

    Posted by Natasha at 03:03 AM | Permalink

    July 18, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    We all knew that the Cook County Jail was a hellhole, but the news this morning reminds me of an editor at the beginning of my career who used to advise reporters that "It's always ten times worse than you think." Too many reporters get thrown off the scent too soon. "Keep going," ought to be the reporting rule of thumb.

    So now comes this.

    "In a scathing report released Thursday, federal authorities said that a culture exists at Cook County Jail in which inmates are systematically beaten by guards and medical care is so substandard that some inmates have died," the Tribune reports.

    "The report detailed numerous incidents in which guards used excessive force in response to verbal insults, failures by inmates to follow instructions or violence against jail staff. Inmates have been punched, stomped, choked and struck with objects, often by multiple officers, suffering black eyes, broken jaws, loosened teeth, fractured noses and ribs, and head trauma, the report said."

    That might sound like run-of-the mill jail stuff, but it gets worse.

    "In July 2007, a mentally ill inmate who exposed himself to a female corrections officer was taken to a clothing room where a group of guards handcuffed and beat him, leaving him with severe head injuries, the report said. In August 2006, a stabbing of a guard set off a mass beating of inmates in retaliation, an incident under federal investigation.

    "The report said the jail's intake area for inmates was particularly plagued with problems. In one alleged incident, guards in May 2006 beat an inmate so severely for refusing to obey orders that he needed to be taken to a trauma center and placed on a respirator."

    It gets worse.

    "In early 2006, a female inmate died of an untreated infection that was a common complication of HIV, investigators found. She went untreated for weeks despite an abnormal X-ray that identified a problem, the report said.

    "In an August 2006 case, an inmate's leg was amputated because of a bone infection improperly treated at the jail. In late 2006, another inmate died of sepsis after a jail staffer failed to take him to an appointment for post-operative care for a gunshot wound, the report said.

    Bear in mind that many Cook County inmates are simply awaiting trial - like this example used by the Trib, they haven't been found guilty of anything.

    Dart Board
    "They have completely ignored all the positive things we've done and painted a picture that is in no way accurate and is horribly disappointing," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who oversees the jail. "At the end of the day, I find it to be horribly unprofessional."

    At the end of the day, "horribly unprofessional" is that last way I would describe U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, whose office conducted the investigation and wrote the report.

    Corruption Tax
    "Lack of money, Fitzgerald said, isn't an excuse," the Sun-Times reports. "'We pay more taxes here than anywhere in the country," Fitzgerald said. "It can't be the only county in the country that can't afford to have a jail that satisfies constitutional standards.'"

    Clout Kids
    In response to the second part of Dane Placko's "Clout Kids" series, "How Cook County Insiders Get Their Kids On The Payroll," a poor, young African-American woman contacted Placko and described how she attempted in vain to find a summer job. That part I can't find on the atrocious Fox Chicago website. But it got me to thinking about how employment is the best crime-fighting strategy - and how Barack Obama is lecturing the wrong people about morality and character.

    Gov. Baloneyvich
    Welcome to Rod's World, chief!

    "Weis questioned why the State Police have yanked other assistance from Chicago," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Weis also said he wished the governor would back the city's push for stronger state gun control laws."

    Finally, Weis told the governor that his mouth was out of control and he'd be glad to send assistance.

    The Daley Show
    "Mayor Daley told the media that he was 'excited' about the Department of Revenue's new $14,000 cameras, and that it took him a long time to find the right vendor for the job, but that a 'buddy' from Bridgeport 'knows a guy.'"

    - Kevin Robinson, Chicagoist

    Beyond The Satire
    "About the only Chicagoan who comes out looking good in Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker profile of Barack Obama (yeah, it's in the issue with the cover) is Fourth Ward alderman Toni Preckwinkle," Ben Joravsky writes.

    Dennehy
    Favorite coach, Ditka
    Vacation place, 'sconsin
    Sausage, Johnson
    Chicken, Swanson's

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Nobody sent us.

    Posted by Lou at 08:54 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. Thank heavens for Lee Abrams, the Tribune Company's Innovation-meister, whose incoherent, capriciously punctuated memos are a veritable treasure trove of dumb ideas. The one from July 14 does not disappoint: Hey, fellas, let's rethink the editorial page - assuming we need one - because it's so, well, opinionated. And concert reviews are so ovah - we should be helping our readers decide whether to purchase tix - in case they've never heard of, say, Madonna or the Rolling Stones.

    2. Did you hear about the British woman who wore her bra for four hours before realizing it had a bat inside it? She thought that fluttery feeling was her mobile phone vibrating. Not to be outdone, the Today Show's Kathy Lee Gifford was positively gleeful about the Wine Rack, a bra that conceals a plastic pouch and straw for sipping brewskis, (and, presumably, comes with a paper bag to slip over your head.)

    3. First, the geriatric rockers of Journey used YouTube to find a replacement lead singer. Now, the world's largest video venue has helped the intrepid police of Leeds, England get their man. Andrew Kellett, 23, was so proud of his assorted misdeeds - including drag racing, drugging and trespassing - that he posted more than 30 videos of them on YouTube under the name MrChimp2007. Kellett's taking it well - approximately two years' probation and 280,000 views.

    4. I don't know which is dumber: that the now-infamous New Yorker cover featuring the Obamas in muslim dress and paramilitary garb is that it failed to spark a dialogue about the smear campaign that it tried to lampoon, or the fact that the story it was illustrated for had nothing to do with the smear campaign that it tried to lampoon and everything to do with what a calculating and cynical Chicago pol Obama is.

    5. Miley Cyrus told TV Guide that she hopes to make a nice clean, teen version of Sex and The City. I'd say she already has.

    Posted by Lou at 07:01 AM | Permalink

    My NBC Audition

    Our citizen journalist on the campaign trail wants NBC to pick her. Now it's in the hands of the Morning Joe team and other assorted, alleged VIPs. Pick Kate!

    Previously on Citizen Kate TV:
    * Obama & Me.
    * A Libertarian Party.

    Posted by Lou at 06:50 AM | Permalink

    Oprah: A Conduit To Hell

    Concerned Pastor Says She's Dealing 'Spiritual Crack'

    Yes, the devil is deceiving. But who would've thought he'd use the most beloved media mogul of our time - the queen of feel-good talk - Oprah Winfrey, as a tool.

    For Pastor Bill Keller, the world's leading Internet evangelist and founder of LivePrayer.com, there is no mistaking the danger of Winfrey's submersion in and preaching of New Age theologies. According to Keller and many other evangelical Christians, it is a misguided path to hell, and far too many people are now walking it thanks to her.

    Oprah2.jpg"This is of clear concern because we're talking about such a strong cult of personality," says Keller. "This woman, with a multimillion member fan base worldwide, is claiming to be a Christian, but is drawing deeper and deeper into New Age programming and the promotion of spiritual concepts that deny the one truth Christians believe."

    Keller points out that earlier this year, Oprah began teaching a year-long "Course in Miracles" on her XM Satellite radio channel. It allegedly preaches of a "new revelation" from "Jesus" to help humanity work through these troubled times. But the "Jesus" bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible's Jesus Christ and the theology denies any concept of sin.

    Meanwhile, her latest venture in New Age teachings was a 10-week Internet seminar in partnership with best-selling New Age author Eckhart Tolle. Together, they've promoted Tolle's new book, A New Earth, Awaking Your Life's Purpose, which, according to many, is filled with perverted spiritual teachings.

    "The problem is, all this stuff is like spiritual crack," Keller says. "It has no faith substance. It all makes people feel good, but it leaves them empty and wanting more. Well, Oprah is there to give it to them time and again. Hence, she is causing their spiritual destruction."

    Keller is available for interviews to offer more on this debate.

    ABOUT YOUR SPEAKER, BILL KELLER
    The news media has crowned Pastor Bill Keller the next big thing in mass-media religion. He is the host of Live Prayer with Bill Keller, the nation's only live call-in faith and values-based program airing exclusively on the Internet. The program deals head-on with issues ranging from divorce, homosexuality, abortion, sexual abuse, pornography, drug addiction, radical Islam, race relations, spousal abuse, false prophets and more, from a conservative, biblical world-view. Live Prayer is unscripted and unedited, giving it a fresh and totally spontaneous approach to problem solving.

    The program can be seen live, Monday through Friday from 10 PM to 11 PM EST, and 24/7 through programs archived on LivePrayer.com.

    Live Prayer with Bill Keller is positioned to become the world's most-watched Internet television broadcast. For information, please visit www.liveprayer.com

    *

    More about Live Prayer.com:
    In 1999, Keller launched LivePrayer.com, which has become the most successful online faith outreach in history. Since its inception, LivePrayer.com has responded personally to more than 60 million online requests for prayer. Additionally, Keller's Live Prayer devotional is received daily by over 2.4 million email subscribers, making Keller's devotional one of the most read e-communications in the world. For information on where to watch Live Prayer in your area, visit www.liveprayer.com.

    -

    See also:
    * This Week on Oprah: An Examination.
    * Oprah Don't Support That Guy: A Christmas Song.
    * Oprah vs. Obama: An Epic Battle.

    Posted by Lou at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    July 17, 2008

    Enchantment Way

    The following press release announcing the new "green" community, The Enchanted Way, may be of interest to your audience. Any editorial comment or mention that you may give this press release would be greatly appreciated.

    - - -

    OWN A 'GREEN' PIECE OF LAS VEGAS
    LAS VEGAS, NV - June 10, 2008 - The Enchantment Way Development will be a unique and fascinating gated community of luxury homes. The plan outlined reflects the creation of eight luxury homes on five (5) acres in the highly sought and quickly developing Southwest valley of Las Vegas, each designed with the most forward-thinking and innovative "green" building techniques of today and tomorrow. With views of the Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock, Southern Highlands, and the entire east valley; these estate homes, each on 1/2 acre, will fill a void not filled by any other development in the Las Vegas valley. The Enchantment Way will be the most unique offering in the history of the Las Vegas valley, available as a ground-breaking fractional ownership development.

    The homes within this one-of-a-kind development will be innovative, in that each home will be LEED Certified. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the hallmark of design and construction in commercial and public buildings. USGBC has launched a pilot program to bring the same quality rating system to residential construction. The Enchantment Way Development's participation in the pilot program, and achievement of the LEED (Gold or Platinum) certification for the entire development, will signify our position in the forefront of environmentally sensitive and energy efficient design and technology.

    The Enchantment Way - This Project Will Give Rise to A Las Vegas Vacation Experience of an Enchanted Kind being created from this project in a wonderful setting, that will serve those growing numbers who desire a discreet, relaxed, multi-faceted vacation experience in an eco-friendly, green built, nature rich environment. Residents will find The Enchantment Way the vacation experience of a lifetime as a second home, a respite from their busy lives as a vacation haven, and the perfect setting for a corporate retreat, which gives them access to the multitude of attractions in Las Vegas, and the sanctuary of a home environment. Owners will have the opportunity to take possession of the homes under a fractional ownership plan, which publications such as The Robb Report promote as the current strong trend that continues to grow rapidly. The Enchantment Way will also provide complete concierge services, and a turn-key investment for our co-owners.

    The Fractional Ownership Plan will offer each of seven (7) homes in one-twelfth (1/12) shares, with each co-owner receiving use of the home for four (4) weeks per year. If the co-owner chooses not to use the home for any of those weeks, management will rent the home as a vacation home on the co-owner's behalf and the co-owner will receive seventy percent (70%) of the rental revenue, after accounting for administrative expenses. Concierge services will be provided for each co-owner by a premier worldwide concierge service from the time the purchase agreement is executed. Further details on pricing and monthly fees available under separate cover.

    Las Vegas consistently enjoys its position as the top destination for vacation and convention visitors alike. The city attracted 39,000,000 visitors in 2007. Occupancy levels for Las Vegas hotels reached over 93% in 2007, and 63% of our visitors had vacation or pleasure as their primary reason for visiting. Large vacation homes are strongly sought after here, but are typically single homes located in residential developments, and therefore do not lend themselves to being vacation retreat environments. The Enchantment Way provides an exclusive community of large and luxurious homes, just 12 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and 14 minutes from the Airport. This development also opens the world of nature and other area attractions to the Las Vegas visitor, including: Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, Valley of Fire, Lake Mead Recreational Area, Hoover Dam, and many other attractions. The development sits within one of the valley's two rural nature preserves, and therefore, provides easy access to horseback riding, exploring the desert, or just a walk through the nature-rich area surrounding the community.

    Each home will be built using the "Green building and green living" techniques of the future, techniques that are cost-effective and respectful of the world in which we reside. "Green Living" Consultant, Steve Rypka, Founder of the Clark County chapter of the United States Green Building Council, counseled us on all aspects of the project to ensure it fully leverages available techniques. Renowned and award-winning architectural firm Tate Snyder Kimsey has designed the homes; this leading architectural firm has eleven LEED certified architects. Lead Architect, Mike Purtill, TSK Partner J. Windom Kimsey, Design Architect, Vince Novak, and two associate architects from the firm collaborated on all aspects of the project. Mike Purtill will provide construction administration leadership, along with our General Contractor, to ensure the cost-effective use of every green building technique and advantage available. Among other advantages, we have access to and will utilize certain tax exemptions, tax abatements and rebates. The Enchantment Way Development will be the largest residential green built project in the history of Las Vegas, and on the West Coast. This development will attract the attention of the media, government officials, corporate leaders and consumers alike. The lender underwriting the project will share in the accolades that are sure to accompany a project of this magnitude and impact.

    The Enchantment Way also includes a Desert Tortoise Habitat, enhancing the lives of this federally protected species. We are preserving the desert growth currently found on the property, including cactus and yuccas, for re-planting after the homes are completed.

    Green building and green living has reached the "critical mass" of attention necessary to swell demand for this unique community. Recent articles in Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and Time, as well as numerous other media features on ABC, PBS, CBS, CNN and NBC, have highlighted the attention now being paid by our political leaders, prominent actors and actresses, and worldwide corporate leaders to the environmental sensitivity we must all embrace. For example, Hearst Corporation's new headquarters in New York will use the latest in solar energy and other green building techniques, as will Bank of America's and Texas Instruments' headquarters. The green building efforts of many cities, including Chicago, Atlanta, Austin and others are being hailed in programs such as e-Design on PBS, which featured the Chicago City Hall for its green roof, as well as the city's effort to reach LEED certified status with all public buildings. The Enchantment Way Development proudly rides the "cutting edge" of demonstrating cost-effective and efficient green building in residential environments.

    Posted by Lou at 06:18 PM | Permalink

    The [Thursday] Papers

    Wow, you'd think Chicago had never experienced a rise in crime before.

    For all I know, Jody Weis is a total fuck-up, but I really want to tell everybody to lay off the guy - and it's not like I was a big fan of his hiring.

    Instead, I'd like to ask Ike Carothers and his fellow city council weasels where they've been all these years.

    The Daley Show
    "The mayor brought in Weis, the former head of the Philadephia FBI office, to restore faith in a department that in recent years had been stung by a series of complaints of brutality and corruption," the Tribune reports today.

    Actually, Daley never really explained why he hired Weis. But it certainly wasn't to usher in an era of reform.

    "This is a very difficult, challenging job and they're always afraid of beefs because, once they get a beef, you write about it," the mayor told reporters, whom he blamed for scaring Chicago police officers into not doing their jobs. "[You say], 'He has 25 C.R. numbers [complaints registered], all unfounded.' You say, 'Why? This fella must be a problem'. And you find out most of them are gangbangers and dope dealers [who] filed charges. And they didn't show up in court or adminstrative hearings. [Yet] you write about it . . . You beat em up pretty good. Now, you want to be their friend."

    Please. The media's fawning over cops is beyond sickening. Yes, they are heroes, we get it!

    But does Daley?

    "Although videotapes of off-duty officers beating up people in bars grabbed the public's attention, it has been the scandal involving the disbanded Special Operations Section that prompted a federal investigation into whether police brass ignored a pattern of hundreds of similar complaints lodged against the officers for years," the Tribune notes.

    "Seven SOS officers were eventually charged with kidnapping and robbing people, and several other officers were stripped of their badges. The federal investigation continues.

    Putting the media criticism aside for the moment, consider: The mayor doesn't believe that officers who rack up citizen complaints are problems. Nor does he find it a problem that an officer who would rack up 25 complaints would be absolved of all of them.

    As Mick Dumke writes, it's not easy to get a complaint filed.

    And the idea that it's gangbangers filing all those complaints is nonsense.

    A year ago (See the last item, Richie Wiggum), the mayor was singing the same tired tune.

    "Mayor Richard Daley defended the Chicago Police Department and its troubled Special Operations Section after revelations that officers in the unit have been the subject of hundreds of citizen complaints," the Tribune reported.

    "'We have a very good police department,' Daley declared. 'You cannot say there are a few bad apples and write them off just like the media does. You have a few bad apples as well.'"

    "More than 1,200 complaints have dogged 57 officers in the Chicago Police Department's elite Special Operations Section over the past five years," the Sun-Times reported at the time. "But only four of those complaints have led to discipline: a 15-day suspension and three reprimands."

    Gun Fun
    "Mayor Daley wants to raise $1 million to buy back guns and remove them from Chicago streets, but the latest in a string of corporate fund-raisers got off to a slow start," the Sun-Times reports.

    "'I know you sent someone over there to spy on everybody - like the Sun-Times is gonna [have] a big exclusive [saying], Where are all the CEOs? But, we raised quite a bit of money," said Daley, who asked the Sun-Times and Tribune to donate $100,000 apiece."

    All I can say is, Barack Obama endorsed the guy.

    File Under Duh
    "The value of gun buy-back programs came under question this week at a City Council hearing.

    "Dr. Carl Bell, president and CEO of the Community Mental Health Council and Foundation Inc., argued that turn-in programs don't reduce gun violence because 'the guns they buy back don't work in the first damn place.'"

    Liar, Liar
    Someone's not telling the truth. We deserve to know who.

    Brainless
    "CTA To Experiment With Seatless Train Cars."

    Passengerless train cars next.

    A Maverick Sandwich
    McCain vs. McRib remixed by the the good folks at Vocalo.

    Here is the original text version, the original audio version, and the Beachwood's Vocalo page.

    We The People
    Recent polls show that 12 percent of the population believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim (not that there's anything wrong with it) and that Rod Blagojevich has a 13 percent approval rating.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Approved by 87.5 percent of the people.

    Posted by Lou at 08:20 AM | Permalink

    The Leadoff Man

    Alfonso Soriano is targeting July 24 as his return date from the disabled list, and Cubs manager Lou Piniella is planning to return Soriano to the leadoff spot, with Kosuke Fukudome batting second. Piniella has earned the benefit of the doubt, but I've had it up to here with those who say it doesn't really matter who bats leadoff.

    For example, on April 25, Sun-Times Cubs writer Gordon Wittenmyer wrote:

    "Sure, Alfonso Soriano should hit deeper in the order when he returns from the disabled list next week. But as long as Kosuke Fukudome keeps producing the way he is in the No. 5 spot and the guys right behind him continue to reach base the way they are, then Soriano essentially becomes a middle-of-the-order hitter in the leadoff hole after the first inning anyway."

    Nonsense!

    Players also aren't immune to this failed line of thinking. On June 10, Orlando Cabrera said: "You basically lead off only time a game, so it's just one at-bat."

    Baloney!

    Here's where they and their ilk are wrong.

    1. The leadoff man gets the most at-bats per game. So it makes a difference beyond the first inning. When you're down to your last out, or a clutch situation, he's got the best chance of being up.

    2. Unless you have a player who hits a home run every time up (the near-case for Barry Bonds as leadoff man), you want the guy who gets the most at-bats to be the guy who gets on-base the most. And because he gets the most at-bats and on-base the most, you want a guy with enough speed to be able to get into scoring position late in the game or to be able to score the winning run from second base.

    3. That one at-bat in the first inning could make the difference in the game. Even if the leadoff man only mattered once in the game, that's one inning where you have an advantage. You want your power hitters to hit home runs and extra base hits with men on base to maximize scoring. That means you want the guys who get on base the most ahead of them.

    *

    Soriano - like Corey Patterson - should hit sixth. After your power hitters in the four- and five-holes have done their thing, you need to start the offense up again. But sometimes the four and five guys haven't gotten the job done, so you're six man is counted on to clean up. That's why it's the perfect spot in the lineup for the player who most blends speed and power but doesn't deserve to hit higher.

    *

    The other key consideration is the eight-hole in the NL. With a usually crappy hitter coming up next, you won't see fast balls. You can easily be walked. You will get nothing to hit. So you need a smart hitter who won't swing wildly, who can hit crap, and who can take the walk and steal a base to get into scoring position for the pitcher or a pinch-hitter.

    That's why earlier this season I advised Fukudome to hit eighth if he wasn't going to hit second. With Fukudome's average down to .279, that looks awfully good now.

    In March, I wrote this: "Kosuke Fukudome may turn out to be a nice player, but he'll probably hit .280 with no power. His on-base percentage will be unusually high for a Cub and he'll be a good defensive player, but he's not an All-Star."

    I'm happy to file this in the I Told You So category even if Fukudome did undeservedly make the All-Star team. I don't feel bad crowing about that all because I also have to admit I was wrong - so far - about Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood. I was unconvinced that Dempster would be more than mediocre as a starter, and totally convinced that Wood would be back on the DL by now.

    Other predictions that I got wrong:

    * That Carlos Zambrano would be on the DL by now for putting his first in a wall.

    * That Aramis Ramirez would be on the DL by now for putting his head in a wall.

    * That Ronnie Cedeno would be selling insurance by now.

    I'm happy to say that I was a big fan of Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, and Mighty Mike Fontenot from the start.

    I've always thought Derrek Lee was one of the coolest cats in the game, even before he was a Cub.

    On the other hand, I was a big Rich Hill fan too, and look how that turned out.

    I'm happy to say that I said from the beginning that the White Sox would be better than people thought. But I also thought the Cubs - while they would win the division - would be worse than expected.

    As for the rest of the season, I still think the Tigers and Yankees are threats in the AL, and the Brewers are still in it in the NL Central. I can't bring myself to think about the Cards - not because of the Cubs rivalry, but because I loathe Tony LaRussa so much.

    Ultimately, there is only one unequivocal statement I can make: Go Twins!

    *

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Lou at 06:10 AM | Permalink

    July 16, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    That was a pretty amazing All-Star game last night, and even though I hate the way the outcome now determines who gets home-field advantage in the World Series, I have to say I love the All-Star game. It's really amazing to watch (for the most part) the best of the best not only competing, but as teammates and, truly, historical athletic figures.

    That point was driven home last night with "the biggest collection" of All-Stars in the game's history gathered on one field. Some of these guys I didn't even know were still alive. Ralph Kiner! Whitey Ford! And you forget that legends like Willie Mays are still around.

    I thought it was a pretty emotional moment when they went through the introductions of these guys, paired with the current players at each position. I love baseball.

    Top Cop
    At least for now I have become Chicago's biggest fan of police chief Jody Weis merely because the city council members he was dragged before on Tuesday once again exhibited that they are by and large buffoons whom I want nowhere near the police department - or anything else they can harm us with.

    Frankly, Weis isn't exactly a dynamic guy, but my God . . . I imagined him sitting there next to Easy Ike Carothers wondering to himself how it could be that such a collection of self-serving bumblers could be allowed to hold public office anywhere outside of Berzerkistan.

    "The toughest barrage came from Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th), chairman of the Police and Fire Committee, who called the hearing to question what the former supervising FBI agent was doing to improve police morale and stop crime," the Tribune reports. "He also made it clear that Weis has to answer to more than the mayor.

    "The Police and Fire Committee has 'jurisdiction over all issues relating to the Police Department"' Carothers bluntly noted, asking Weis if he 'understood that now'."

    I understand you're a dick, I could see Weis thinking.

    The main thrust of the council's message to Weis seemed to have been that they want cops to start kicking ass again. They might as well raise the sales tax again to fund a legal defense fund in that case. My, memories are short.

    If I'm not mistaken, crime is rising nationwide. It's just possible - and I'm just throwing something out there - that a declining economy has something to do with it. That's usually the way these things go.

    As for the idea that cops are less aggressive because they fear lawsuits, well, one thing we know for sure is that there is no reason they have to fear losing their jobs. If this won't get you fired, not much will.

    Morale Officer
    Usually an outgoing editor praises the talents of their replacement, and Ann Marie Lipinski is nothing if not politic. That's why this struck me:

    "Lipinski declined to comment on her replacement, Gerould Kern."

    Wow.

    Nothing?

    Don't wanna even wish him luck?

    And then this:

    "[Deputy managing editor for features Jim] Warren would not comment specifically on Lipinski's replacement, Gerould Kern, but said the change in leadership brings "an unavoidable period of significant ambiguity," adding that it is also impacted by "significant pending layoffs, significant pending newsprint reduction and the coming of a very different editor."

    One who must not be talked about!

    Change Agents
    "A career FBI agent brought in from the outside, Weis argued that you can't change the culture of an organization by leaving the same people in place."

    Gerry Kern, meet Jody Weis!

    Office Politics
    "Chicago politics have historically been important in the selection of police commanders and top brass," John Kass writes. "Just a few years ago, even the Chicago mob had a big say in who worked where in the top echelons of the department."

    *

    Similarly, office politics have historically been important in the selection of editors and reporters. Even FOAMs (Friends of Ann Marie) had a big say in who worked where in the newsroom. And now? Morale is low and journalists are afraid of being too aggressive!

    Obamamania
    1. Surge scrub.

    2. "After a brief bout of Obamamania, some Capitol Hill Democrats have begun to complain privately that Barack Obama's presidential campaign is insular, uncooperative and inattentive to their hopes for a broad Democratic victory in November," Politico reports.

    "'They think they know what's right and everyone else is wrong on everything,' groused one senior Senate Democratic aide. 'They are kind of insufferable at this point.'"

    3. "Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told Gwen Ifill of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer that his rival for president, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has shifted on issues more than he has," Politico reports.

    "Obama has faced a torrent of stories about moving toward the middle for the general election, on issues ranging from gun control to Iraq policy."

    Sayeth Obama:

    "'[I]f you compare sort of my shift in emphasis on issues that I've been proposing for years, like say, faith-based initiatives, which have raised questions in the press . . . if you compare that to John McCain's complete reversal on oil drilling, complete reversal on George Bush's tax cuts, complete reversal on immigration where he said he wouldn't even vote for his own bill, that I think is a pretty hard case to make that somehow I've been shifting substantially relative to John McCain."

    And my whole campaign has been based on being one degree less a shameless posturer than my opponents.

    "When Ifill pointed out that Obama's decision to reverse himself on accepting public financing for his fall campaign had 'raised hackles in the press,' Obama interjected: 'Well, raised hackles amongst some in the blogosphere.'"

    A) Oh, that was just the press pointing out my hypocrisy.
    B) Oh, that was just the blogosphere that gave me so much money I had cover to reject public financing.

    Beer Smear
    * "Buckingham Renovation To Add Glitz: Park District wants $25 million project to help Olympic bid."

    At Caesar's they've set the Over/Under on the final bill at $53 million.

    * "Beer Giant To Locate In Chicago."

    Assisted by more than $20 million in state and city subsidies.

    I have a better idea: The MillerCoors Buckingham Beer Fountain.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Elbows out.


    Posted by Lou at 09:53 AM | Permalink

    Stop Credit Card Abuses Now!

    WORKING FAMILIES, MERCHANTS SEND JOINT MESSAGE TO LAWMAKERS

    Washington, D.C. - July 15, 2008 - In a groundbreaking joint effort by the nation's fastest growing union and trade associations representing merchants, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), and the National Grocers Association (N.G.A.) sent a letter to every Member of the House of Representatives today calling on Congress to stop the nation's biggest banks and credit card companies from continuing abusive practices which harm American consumers and businesses. The groups jointly urged Congressional action to pass the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2008 (H.R. 5244), the Credit Card Fair Fee Act (H.R. 5546 and S. 3086), and the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2008 (H.R. 6248).

    "The biggest banks have put working families and the economy on a rollercoaster - but regulators aren't paying enough attention to make sure it doesn't go off the track," said Stephen Lerner, Director of the SEIU Private Equity Project. "Lawmakers and regulators have to act before the fees and bad practices hurting consumers derail the economy altogether."

    "The abuse of American consumers and businesses by credit card companies and big banks needs to end," said John Motley, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs of FMI. "It is time for Congress to Act."

    "By combining the market power of all of the big banks, the credit card companies have the ability to dictate their terms to everyone," said Lyle Beckwith, Senior Vice President, Government Relations of NACS. "They abuse businesses - large and small - in just the same ways they abuse individual cardholders. The ever-changing credit card terms and mystery fees hit everyone."

    "Credit card abuse is incredibly frustrating for our members," said Tom Wenning, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of N.G.A. "They see how much money is taken out of their businesses in credit card fees and then they see the high rates and fees they get hit with as individual consumers. The credit card companies hit all of us twice - and many people don't even know it."

    Last year alone, banks made $42 billion in interchange fees. The top 10 banks issued 88 percent of the credit cards and made the vast majority of those fees. The biggest banks in the country have recently come under fire for abusive banking practices such as increasing credit card interest rates, high overdraft and late fees and rising costs of consumer products.

    Members of Congress introduced bills that will help protect consumers and retailers from the banks' and credit card companies' continued abuses. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), introduced The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights on February 7, 2008; Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) introduced the Credit Card Fair Fee Act on March 6, 2008; Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) introduced the Senate companion to the Credit Card Fair Fee Act on June 5, 2008; and Rep. Peter Welch introduced the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2008 on June 11, 2008.

    -

    The text of the letter sent to the House of Representatives follows:

    The biggest banks and credit card companies have used the power they wield in the marketplace to push unfair business practices that are costing our members - retailers and working families - tens of billions of dollars each year.

    The credit card industry has moved steadily over the last several years to impose more burdensome penalties and fees on cardholders - ratcheting up interest rates as high as 30 percent. At the same time, the industry has dramatically increased credit card interchange fee revenues. All banks charge the same schedule of fees which drives up the costs of nearly everything consumers buy, including necessities such as gasoline and food, and removes the competitive pressure to reduce the fees.

    Each year, these banks flood our mailboxes with 9 billion pieces of junk mail promising cheap, easy credit. The banks then make all of us pay for these billions of offers--without us even knowing it--by using part of the more than $40 billion they collect annually in interchange fees. These fees are nominally paid between banks but are actually passed on to merchants and, ultimately, to consumers. These fees are tremendously regressive because credit card industry rules make sure they are hidden in the prices of goods and services so that cash shoppers have to pay for them just like premium rewards credit cardholders.

    The federal agencies that are responsible for protecting American consumers from the credit card industry's worst abuses have failed to use their authority to stop the anticompetitive and deceptive and unfair practices that have become standard in the industry. It is now time for Congress to step in and begin to restore fairness in the financial marketplace for working families and merchants.

    With that in mind, we urge you to support three pieces of legislation that would begin to reform this industry. These are:

    * The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2008, H.R. 5244, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY);

    * The Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008, H.R. 5546, sponsored by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Chris Cannon (R-UT) and S. 3086 sponsored by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Bond (R-MO); and

    * The Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2008, H.R. 6248, sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).

    These pieces of legislation are important steps forward in ending the abusive credit card practices that drain billions of dollars from working families and retailers each year. We urge you to support these bills and quickly pass them.

    -

    About the Organizations

    SEIU
    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the fastest-growing labor union in North America, with 1.9 million members. Together with consumer advocacy organizations nationwide, we're working to hold big banks accountable to working families and our communities.

    FMI
    Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies - food retailers and wholesalers - in the United States and around the world. FMI's U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies. Their combined annual sales volume of $680 billion represents three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI's retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from more than 50 countries. FMI's associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.

    NACS
    NACS, the association for convenience and petroleum retailing, is an international trade association representing more than 2,200 retail and 1,800 supplier member companies. The U.S. convenience store industry, with over 146,000 stores across the country, posted $577.4 billion in total sales in 2007, with $408.9 billion in motor fuels sales.

    N.G.A.
    N.G.A. is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. Most independent operators are serviced by wholesale distributors, while others may be partially or fully self-distributing. Some are publicly traded but with controlling shares held by the family and others are employee owned. Independents are the true "entrepreneurs" of the grocery industry and dedicated to their customers, associates, and communities. N.G.A. members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers.

    Posted by Lou at 03:12 AM | Permalink

    You're Hereby Bequeathed Stress

    Estate Lady Offers Real Answers in Such a Trying Time

    It's one of life's most overwhelming challenges - tthe death and infirmity of one's parents. Grueling as it is, adult children everywhere are faced daily with the unexpected daunting task of dividing their parents' estate contents, clearing out the family home and tying up the loose ends of countless other tasks. And worse yet, all this often leaves them unprepared for the inevitable family fights over "stuff."

    The Estate Lady®, Julie Hall, is available to provide solutions right now, at a time when the nation's largest generation - the baby boomer gen - is coming into this age of sudden caretaker.

    Julie is an expert in personal property, specializing in the dissolution of estates, who works closely with the Boomers and their parents, making sure everyone is on the same page at the same time, minimizing strife and hasty decisions when in the midst of a crisis.

    Julie's book, The Boomer Burden - Dealing with Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, teaches both generations how to handle the inevitable, and do it with peace of mind and little to no fighting among heirs.

    This is an issue we must all face at some point, and this book was written to literally guide the boomer through the many traps and pitfalls that occur when closing the estate of a loved one. As a guest on your show, Julie can offer a glimpse into the book's comprehensive wealth of information and is prepared to take phone calls and answer questions from your audience, right on the air.

    The Boomer Burden
    Author Julie Hall states, "The Boomer Burden offers trustworthy council for one of life's most overwhelming challenges - the infirmity and death of a boomer's parents. Grueling as that is, they are then faced with the daunting task of dividing the estate contents and finally clearing out the family home, totally unprepared for the battles ahead. The Boomer Burden will lead the reader through heart wrenching and heartwarming scenarios that will truly touch their hearts. It offers support and guidance during these times and was specifically written to instill hope and peace where there is little or none. It will assist the reader from beginning to end; what to do, what not to do, and how to do it all in the most appropriate manner. Taking a client from a place of confusion and worry and bringing them back to a place of peace and comfort is the goal of this book."

    Real Scenarios
    1. Elderly female client with advanced Alzheimer's (husband in back bedroom dying of Parkinson's) is completely taken advantage of when so-called friends and neighbors come into her home and buy her valuable heirlooms for $1, $5, $10. They knew better, but she didn't. These items were worth in the thousands $$$ and her children were nowhere to be found. They would never see their inherited heirlooms again.

    2. Diane's widowed father is found wandering in the middle of a winter night in his pajamas and no shoes and manages to get into a neighbor's home. The neighbor thinks it's a burglar, but recognized the elderly gentleman and offers him a blanket and sofa to sleep on while they contact the police who contact Diane. Other sibling in denial. Time for professional assistance.

    3. Two siblings inherit millions each and viciously fight over the old Tupperware. I get hit in the head with a flying kettle in the process.

    4. Elderly dad asks me in the middle of my speech how to handle his problem. Two sons, one Civil War fire arm passed down for generations. Both sons are already fighting over it. Who do I give it to, or should I just let them fight over it?

    5. Daughter holds vigil by dad's beside 24 hours a day until his death, not even letting other siblings in very often. Everyone thought it was because she was so close to him. The real reason she stayed round the clock was to gather possessions in the home she wanted for herself in the basement. When dad died and the coroner came to the house, all other children were on the first floor comforting mom. Daughter was in the basement funneling things out to her car.

    6. Siblings often change locks so other siblings cannot get into the house.

    7. Wealthy woman who is blind and has Alzheimer's keeps wearing her jewels worth a huge amount of $$$. The heirs ask to have the diamonds removed and replaced with CZ's. Before the request could be carried out, the jewelry was stolen from her person while she was napping from the caregiver. They even took a crock pot.

    8. I rescued a pair of vases from a Goodwill pile the executor said "were ugly." Sold weeks later for $57,500 for one and $3,500 for the other.

    Summary Points
    1. This book was written for 78 million Boomers and 40 million over 65 years old.

    2. It was written for every heir, executor, beneficiary and employee and anyone with older parents.

    3. This massive issue is inevitable and this is the only guide in the world like it.

    4. Boomers have no idea how to deal with this issue until it is a crisis situation and lands on their lap. This will guide them through it.

    5. Boomers do not fully understand that much of what they perceive as mom and dad's junk actually have value. As a result, Boomers make hasty and poor decisions.

    6. The number one question Boomers ask me is, "How does one begin to dissolve a lifetime of accumulation? There is so much stuff here!"

    7. This book is the perfect gift for children and parents to read together or for siblings to purchase for each other so everyone is on the same page.

    8. It takes the reader from the point of recognizing early signs of our parents needing help all the way to after they pass away, offering guidance each step of the way.

    9. NEXT TO INFIRMITY OR DEATH, THIS IS THE MOST STRESSFUL CHALLENGE A BOOMER WILL GO THROUGH WITH THEIR PARENTS, often left feeling upset, resentful and frustrated.

    10. The Boomer Burden will teach the reader how to:

    a) Divide your parents' estate with peace of mind
    b) Minimize fighting with siblings during the estate settlement process
    c) Clear out the family home in 10 days or less
    d) Identify potential items of value in the family home
    e) have "that conversation" with your parents"
    f) Prepare yourself and your children for the future

    About Your Speaker
    Julie Hall, known as The Estate Lady®, is a professional estate liquidator and certified personal property appraiser. With more than seventeen years experience with clients from the southeastern United States, she has assisted thousands of individuals in the daunting and often painful process of managing their deceased parents' affairs. In addition to her hands-on experience with clients, she is a speaker to civic groups, businesses, churches, and professional organizations. Julie is also a consultant for those in need of advice in the midst of crisis. She has written a monthly column "Ask The Estate Lady®" and taught college courses on "Identifying valuables in your home and attic." Julie resides in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and daughter.

    Posted by Lou at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    July 15, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    The departure of Ann Marie Lipinski as editor of the Chicago Tribune is not a surprise. She's about as diametrically opposite of Sam Zell and his clownish deputies as one could be.

    The promotion of Gerry Kern to replace her is a surprise. Howard Kurtz gets it right when he reports that "Journalists who have dealt with Kern call him a solid but unremarkable editor who was shuffled to the corporate side after losing internal competitions and spearheaded the idea of measuring the productivity of Tribune papers and their staffs."

    The smart money was on Jim Warren as Lipinski's replacement, especially once his chief rival for the post, George de Lama, left the paper in May. Former Tribbie Tim Franklin, now the editor of the Baltimore Sun, has long been considered the dark horse in the sweepstakes. But Gerry Kern?

    Not really on the newsroom's radar.

    Kern became the paper's metropolitan editor in 1993 when I was a reporting resident at the paper and actually won over a fair number of reporters initially put off by his suburban pedigree by injecting some energy into the city desk and shaking things up by moving some pieces around, including a couple of noted FOAM's - Friends of Ann Marie. If memory serves, Ann Marie was on maternity leave at the time.

    Ultimately, though, as Kurtz notes, Kern was widely perceived to have lost the paper's Kremlinesque interoffice political wars.

    It's fortuitous now that he spent his years in the wilderness compiling byline counts, brow-beating the company's far-flung papers into using each other's content, and smushing together the various Tribune properties' Washington bureaus into one. Turns out that's exactly the kind of economizing and bottom-lining that Zell wants more of, despite his initial pledge to grow the company's papers rather than shred them.

    For sure you won't be seeing the same old Tribune when Zell's version comes out in the fall. The change, in fact, looks to be jarring.

    In some folks' hands, this would be just what the paper needs. Somehow I'm not convinced, though, that those hands belong to Zell and now Kern (not that those hands belonged to Warren, either, believe me.) The goal right now is debt reduction. And reduction is just what you're going to get.

    The real question will be whether Kern can save the Tribune after he destroys it. In other words, does he get the Internet?

    Ann Marie's World
    Kurtz writes that Lipinski is "widely-admired" in the newsroom, but I've found that she is at least equally widely-feared, if not more. From a profile I wrote of her in Chicago magazine after she was named editor:

    "Those who are not FOAMs, which means many of the rank and file, consistently portray Lipinski as insular and cold but fear the repercussions of speaking on the record. "Every Tribune reporter has a story about how they think Ann Marie hates them," one long-time Tribune reporter says.

    "Her newsroom friendships are so well known they have given rise to a long-running gibe that photos of her wedding party provide a more accurate portrait of Tribune power than the paper's organizational chart. And reporters palpably fear the political consequences of crossing - or even disagreeing with - a FOAM.

    "The loyalty she engenders may have another downside as well. 'Some people are so eager to please, if Ann Marie says the moon is made of green cheese, some people would be out buying crackers,' says former Tribune veteran William Recktenwald, a Lipinski admirer who now teaches journalism at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. 'That can be a weakness. But I think she's able to see that. The weakness is not with her; it's with some of the people trying to curry favor with her.'"

    Side Orders
    I always thought that if I had to do it over again, I might have led that profile with the story Ann Marie told me about watching a focus group from behind one-way glass. The group had been asked to identify certain characteristics of the Tribune, and one of them was that the paper was "male."

    Afterwards, Ann Marie told me, she made a point of introducing herself to the focus group members to show that the editor of the paper was a woman. She wanted to prove them wrong instead of trying to understand why they saw the paper as they did.

    My other favorite Ann Marie anecdote happened during a phone interview when I asked her about former Trib sportswriter Skip Bayless's claim that she had ordered the sports editors to stop starting columns on the sports front and jumping them to inside the section. Columns, she decreed, should start and stop on the left hand side of a page only, instead of sometimes starting in the middle, top or bottom of a page and continuing elsewhere.

    "A column," she instructed me, "means one column of type."

    In other words, a newspaper column is actually named after a column of newsprint, and therefore shouldn't stray.

    What a tight ass, I thought.

    Diminished Era
    Ann Marie is no doubt talented, if fastidious. But she was not a change agent at a time when change was desperately needed. She presided over a reduction of the paper's features and personalities without any corresponding innovation. When she took over the paper, it was probably as good as it had ever been. You could hardly say that now.

    Of course, you could say that about almost any paper in the country - it's obviously not all her fault.

    But in just one example of failed leadership, the Tribune had an early advantage online thanks to early-adopter Charlie Brumback (he owned one of the first Apples); he was an early investor in AOL when nobody knew what AOL was and Trib experimented early and often on the Internet. The newsroom was never brought along, though, and now its website is as - like many in the industry - a mediocre mess.

    The investigative and narrative projects she spearheaded as managing editor also lost their steam under her editorship - which isn't to say there weren't some beauties. It's to say that the paper (again, like almost all of them) is hardly what it once was, not that it was ever as great as she imagines.

    And I suspect it's about to become even less great.

    *

    I'll weigh in on the New Yorker cover flap and the politics of the day over at Division Street.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Cash is king.

    Posted by Lou at 09:25 AM | Permalink

    SportsTuesday

    Ludicrously enough, we have to scramble at this point to think of ways to upgrade Chicago's baseball banner-carriers. But scramble we must, if for no other reason than to prop up competitive conversation in this town.

    Simultaneously in first place at the All-Star break for the second time in 70-plus years of All-Star breaks, these teams are killing local sports talk (over-the-air and online) franchises. There has been a precipitous drop in submissions to these forums, what with so few "the coach/manager is an idiot" assertions in the air (fortunately Bears training camp is only a month away and they sucked last year, right? Why does Lovie still have a job?). There is even a distinct lack of "of course they should trade the bum" choruses (although there are plenty of loud, individual voices).

    Fortunately, we've had a little extra time this week to come up with a comprehensive list of sort-of solutions for what almost ails the Cubs and Sox.

    ***

    If the fans could trade anyone on either of these teams, it isn't tough to figure out who it would be. Sure, he has shown over his career that he is more than capable of putting up 20 home runs in a half-season even if he's struggled in the other half, but you'd have to be a moron not to realize that Paulie must go!

    And while we're talking about Mr. Konerko, couldn't modern technology help him run just a little bit faster? Because if he had some sort of specialized springs in his shoes and could therefore beat out just one double-play ground ball during his White Sox career, perhaps fans might be willing to cut him a smidge of slack. Yes, I'm kind of having it both ways here. While I realize it would be stupid to give up on Konerko at this point (not that they can - his contract is untrade-able and ensures he won't be released for at least another couple seasons), he can be such an aggravating player, even in games that aren't as obviously bad as Sunday's.

    That was when Konerko capped off a teeth-gnashing 0-for-6 performance (while all around him teammates were piling up hits to the tune of 22 total), by striking out looking for the last out of the game. That dropped Paulie's batting average to .217. On the other hand (here I go again), I will say I thought Joe Cowley's assessment of the final at-bat in the Sun-Times was a bit harsh.

    Konerko's big failing at the end happened on the 3-1 pitch, i.e. the one before he struck out and the one hitters are supposed to have the best chance to kill. He swung at and missed a left-handed breaking ball that started over the plate and then broke way inside. The problem with killing him for doing that was that Ranger pitcher C.J. Wilson was pitching in the bright, late-afternoon sunshine in Arlington, Texas, at that point while Konerko was in the shade. There was no way Konerko, expecting a fastball, saw the spin on the ball (just as Jim Thome didn't see the spin on the belly-high curveball that was called strike three in the previous at-bat).

    Folks were ready to dump Thome too, but he's pumped his batting average all the way to a kind-of respectable .253 at the break. Still, I think we're going to require Mr. Thome to lay down at least a half-dozen bunts against the ridiculous defensive shifts teams so frequently employ against him. I know his game is power but come on! They're practically playing the third baseman on the right side of second base! Get a bunt past the pitcher on the left side and it might be a double, Jimmy!

    And then there are Jose Contreras's struggles . . . and I don't really know what to say other than, well, what do you expect from a 50-year-old pitcher? "That's not how old he is," you say? "You're right," I reply. "What do you expect from a 55-year-old pitcher?"

    ***

    On the other side of town, what is to be done about Carlos Marmol? Sure, he leads all major league relievers in strikeouts (by a lot), but he stunk in that potentially pivotal game with the Giants on Saturday (the Cubs' Central Division lead would have fallen to only four games in the loss column if they hadn't miraculously found a way to overcome his brazen ineptitude!). And before that he had a bunch of outings in a row where he didn't even strike out the side once! And sure, Lou Pinella has used him in all but one of the Cubs' wins so far, but overuse is not an excuse (that has a nice ring to it doesn't it?). Carlos just needs to take a nice vacation over the All-Star break . . . kick back and don't even think about baseball . . . what's that? Marmol has been added to the NL All-Star squad? Uh-oh.

    And while we're at it, what is to be done about Ryan Dempster's inability to win on the road? Sure, he pitched seven great innings in San Francisco a week before the break and left with a three-run lead, but he didn't get the win, did he? Who blew that game again? Oh yeah, Marmol! OK, OK, so Marmol didn't technically blow it. He allowed the Giants to tie it and Mighty Mike Fontenot (he has seven home runs in 143 at-bats and I'm not sure he's bigger than my nine-year-old son - how is that possible?) hit a late solo shot to win it. Dempster also blew his best chance to win a road game - i.e. the one he started in Chicago (during the Crosstown Classic).

    The solution may be to trick him into thinking he's pitching at home when he's on the mound in, say, Milwaukee. This will involve extensive blindfolding (try to pretend it's a form of hazing - Dempster isn't a rookie, of course, but he's a rookie in the Cubs starting rotation) and even blinders (if it works for horses, why not pitchers?), but I think Dempster's Cub teammates are up to the task.

    Finally, there is the fact that whittle baby Kosuke Fukudome is apparently running out of gas. Playing 80 or so baseball games so far has apparently taxed him to no end and his batting average had dipped below .280 at the end of Sunday's game. Generally I don't bring up guys' contracts when I'm criticizing them. The bottom line is that if a guy deserves criticism, I'll let him have it regardless of how much he makes. But in this case I'll make an exception.

    Hey Kosuke, for the $13 million or so you're making this year in the first year of a $50 million-plus contract, suck it up, take tons of extra batting practice and get yourself going. You've been pathetic for weeks now.

    There. I feel much better and I hope the listeners at home and the readers in the chat rooms feel the same.

    -

    Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every Monday, except on the rare occasion when he brings it to you on Tuesday. That's when we call it SportsTuesday.

    Posted by Lou at 07:01 AM | Permalink

    Troubled Economy Saving Marriages

    Expense of Divorce Creating a Stay of Execution

    When they said, "for poorer," it really meant something.

    In a twist of irony - considering money issues can often drive a wedge in a relationship - today's shaky economy is stabilizing marriages. For example, in South Florida's Miami-Dade County, where real estate values have dropped 20 percent, almost congruently, divorce filings from January to May of 2008 are down 18 percent from the same period in '07.

    rings.jpgFor Dr. David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg and Dr. Peter Larson, experts in marital relationships and authors of The Couple Checkup, such hard times can present the blessing of an opportunity for those struggling in their marriage.

    "Couples are often impulsive in their decision to divorce, acting too quickly when they really have plenty of love to salvage between them," says Larson. "If circumstances that simply make divorce too expensive are what it takes for couples to stay together, then so be it. That's a very worthwhile opportunity to try bonding again."

    With no indication that America's current courtship with recession will end anytime soon, the trend in divorce rates may continue to drop and possibly strengthen the family unit again.

    THE COUPLE CHECKUP
    Just as your mother persisted that you to go to the doctor for your annual checkup, the authors of The Couple Checkup are insisting that you take the same initiative in your relationships. That's right. It's time for your checkup. I hope you've been taking care of yourself and your partner. If not, your relationship vital signs are sure to give it away. However, there's no need to worry. David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg, and Peter J. Larson have developed a cure that will save your life (or at least your love life) in their revolutionary customized book.

    The Couple Checkup is based on an unprecedented survey of 50,000 marriages nationwide. The results of these surveys have been broken down into principles that include:

    * Discovering your "Couple Strengths"
    * Communicating within your relationship
    * Managing your finances and the accompanying emotional complexities
    * Evaluating your sexual relationship, and
    * Understanding roles, responsibilities, and teamwork.

    However, this is not all The Couple Checkup has to offer. While it can be enjoyed on its own, the book comes with a free online individual profile as well as the SCOPE Personality Profile and the Couple and Family Map for your relationship. Each chapter of the book matches an individual category of the profile and contains couple exercises to help build your relationship strengths creating a completely customized program for you. The Couple Checkup is also customized based on the stage of your relationship- whether you are dating, cohabiting, engaged, married- your age and whether or not you have children.

    The authors state, "Your road to a successful and happy relationship will be uniquely yours." So what are you waiting for? It's time to stop putting off your overdue appointment with your relationship doctor, The Couple Checkup.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
    David H. Olson, Ph.D., is Founder and President of Life Innovations, a twenty five year old company with a variety of products such as the PREPARE-ENRICH program designed to build stronger marriages. A national and international expert, Olson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota where he taught for nearly thirty years. Having written more than twenty books and one hundred articles in the marriage and family field, he has appeared on a variety of television shows including The Today Show, The Early Show, Good Morning America, and Oprah.

    Amy Olson-Sigg is a Research associate at Life Innovations. Currently finishing her masters in marital and family therapy, Amy has co-authored several books including Empowering Couples and served on the Board of Directors as a student representative of the Minnesota Council on Family Relations.

    Peter J. Larson, Ph.D., is Vice President of Life Innovations. He worked for several years a Clinical Director of the Smalley Relationship Counseling Center. Larson co-authored several programs including Marriage Mentor and Building Strong Families and has written numerous articles on marriage and family.

    Posted by Lou at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    July 14, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    BREAKING 11:49 A.M.: Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski resigns.

    Gov. Baloneyvich
    "Want to ruin your day? Try dealing with state government," Kristen McQueary wrote on Sunday.

    "On Wednesday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich followed through on his threat to veto social service programs from the state budget.

    "After reviewing dozens of pages of vetoed items, it's clear the governor once again put politics ahead of policy. He kept the nearly $1 million in cost-of-living pay raises he and lawmakers are set to receive, but he slashed quite discriminately in other areas.

    "He cut more than $240,000 for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois, Springfield, and $800,000 to address the state's DNA testing backlog. Another $1 million to offset the cost of videotaping police interrogations was cut."

    If your day isn't quite ruined yet, go read the rest of it and it will be.

    [Editor's Note: That link has suddenly and mysteriously become inoperable. I'll leave it up in case it returns.]

    The Berman Derby
    Coming soon, but not soon enough.

    From The White Sox Report:

    "Over/Under: Infinite: The number of times you'll want to throw the remote through your television as Chris Berman guides you through the Home Run Derby."

    From The Cub Factor:

    "Over/Under: Amount of time the average baseball fan should spend watching the Home Run Derby: +/- 2 minutes."

    Totally unplanned.

    Starting At Home
    "[Obama] also said he favors parents having more choice of schools within the public system, but not the use of vouchers for private schools," the Sun-Times reports today in "'Education Starts At Home': Obama Picks Up Endorsement, Says He'll Fix No Child Left Behind."

    "'We need to focus on fixing and improving our public schools, not throwing our hands up and walking away from them,' Obama said."

    Obama sends his kids to private school.

    Obama Left Behind
    "The story of Obama's involvement [in local school councils] suggests that on similarly contentious fronts involving national education policy, like the No Child Left Behind Act, he might respond the same way - holding back when powerful interest groups collide, only to support the status quo of local control in the end. The candidate's Chicago record on education also raises questions about his much-vaunted ability to bring different sides together to find lasting solutions," Alexander Russo wrote in a Slate article called "Chicago School Days: Obama's Lackluster Record On Education."

    "Based on Obama's actions in Chicago in 1999, it's hard to imagine him taking charge of the continuing debate over whether and how No Child Left Behind should be renewed. Forced to take a side, Obama's record suggests that, ultimately, he would be sympathetic to local autonomy. But there's not much evidence to show that he would be able to help mend deep and abiding schisms between testing hawks and local-control advocates. And without strong and unifying national leadership, our troubled public-education system stands little chance of making the dramatic improvements that it needs."

    Sister City
    "Millions have been spent on beautifying parts of Chicago but little to abate the consequences of inadequate public housing and to improve lives," Edward L. Palmer, former chairman of the Chicago Sister Cities Committee, wrote to the Tribune on Sunday (I can't find it online). "Instead of residents having to march in parades to bring attention to communities in trauma and being told that they must halt the violence, they should look to the city administration to provide leadership - first by acknowledging to wounded communities that their policies have failed and that firms and invidivuals have garnered more than $15 million under a plan that has lost 13,000 public housing units, and second by developing plans in cooperation with communities that offer work and well-being for residents.

    "No marches or beautifications can mask the ineptness of this administration and its cronies."

    Pot Kettle Black
    "Across Midwest, Interest In Medical Marijuana Grows."

    The regular kind, too.

    Car Max
    "Gas Over $4 May Cut Auto Deaths By A Third."

    And gas over $100 would eliminate auto deaths altogether.

    Kool-Aid Report
    "The true believers who evangelized that Obama would transcend politics as we knew it are suffering a Barackian hangover."

    Blog Fog
    1. Memo to Tribune editorial board: No one is asking you to read their blogs or subscribe to their Twitter feeds. (Editorial about GenY microbloggers not available online (!), but trust me.)

    2. Yes, young people are so caught up in connecting with friends online they don't know how to interact with humans in real life! Just like when the telephone was invented!

    Will you please return to your home planet now?

    Judging Julia
    Yes, the rhythms of blogs are just killing us. No one wants to read anymore!

    If only we could go back to the days when newspaper articles were works of great literature.

    This Just In
    Blogs are to blame for every ill in the universe.

    Rappers breathe sigh of relief.

    Keeping Up With Jones
    "[I]t is outrageously sorry that state Senate President Emil 'I need a pay raise' Jones is refusing to reconvene his chamber until after the November election," Carol Marin wrote on Sunday. "What that cagey little maneuver does is guarantee that an automatic 7 percent pay raise on top of a 4 percent cost-of-living increase will go into effect for all state lawmakers even though the House voted the pay raise down. The combined 11 percent boost for a part-time legislator will take rank-and-file members to about $73,000 a year while those in leadership slots, such as Jones, will rake in more than a hundred grand."

    Cop Shop
    "[P]olice chief Jody Weis is revisiting two time-worn issues, one of which is much-talked about and the right thing to do but is in fact never done, and the other which is a disaster waiting to happen but far more likely to happen - perhaps even at the mayor's behest."

    Cover Your Fannie
    "Apparently, the people who lend you money have no money either," Natasha Julius writes in her fabulous Weekend Desk Report.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Lender of last resort.

    Posted by Lou at 07:53 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    Well that was a fun little first half, am I right people? The White Sox have been about as competent as anyone could have hoped for before the All-Star Game. Ozzie hasn't been banished to a second round of sensitivity training, Juan Uribe hasn't killed anyone, and - hey - the Sox are in first place at the break. It has been a successful start by any measure. As an added bonus, Jose Contreras is still alive. What an upset.

    With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the first half's signature stories.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • SportsMonday will appear on Tuesday this week.
  • Strangest story: Nothing that happens this baseball season will be as odd as the blow-up doll fiasco in May. While the entire episode was just weird, its bizarreness was nearly topped in the media coverage. One paper had the story on the front page (of the actual paper, not just the sports section), while the other had only a few sentences tucked away inside a game story. We get that these two papers are different, but you would think they'd be able to put some gauge on the newsworthiness of a story like that.

    Best Ozzie rant: This one may just be our favorite ever, for obvious reasons:

    ''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.''

    Biggest headache: Though Orlando Cabrera has the third highest batting average of all AL shortstops, he hit a two-month streak during the first half where he couldn't do anything right. Still, it's impossible to hate a man holding a sign like this.

    Must improve: Batters' entrance music! Seriously OC, listening to Nickelback has been clinically proven to tear apart a human's cerebral cortex. Don't argue with science, man. It's also worth noting that Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy still comes on whenever you go to Nick Swisher's personal website. We still have work here to do, people.

    The king of cool: Hawk Harrelson loves saying that second basemen Alexei Ramirez is the team's best player. It's a statement that seems impossible to quantify - he certainly doesn't have the best numbers, but he is the only guy with five shiny tools- but I think we all can agree on one thing: Alexei is clearly the team's coolest player.

    *

    Week in Review: My biggest second half fear is that the wheels may start to fall off for Gavin Floyd. Thursday's start wasn't a good way to head into the All-Star break.

    Week in Preview: For the players, nothing will be more glorious than the four-day break. It'll be nice for fans too. The grind of a 162-game baseball season is tough for everyone.

    The Missile Tracker: Finally, we have our first defining moment of the Alexei Ramirez Era. On Tuesday, Alexei scored a run on a sacrifice fly. From second base. I doubt Konerko would have even made it to third.

    Fields on the Farm: Fields went deep on Friday against the Richmond Braves after a sizable homer drought. No word yet if Atlanta's AAA affiliate made any videos about him.

    Over/Under: Infinite: The number of times you'll want to throw the remote through your television as Chris Berman guides you through the Home Run Derby.

    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 the All-Star game deciding home field advantage for the World Series may be the dumbest idea in the history of sports, but you already knew that.

    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 , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.

    Posted by Lou at 05:34 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    When we compared this year's edition of the Cubs to the classic characters from Happy Days a couple of weeks ago, we didn't anticipate the addition of a new cast member to shore up the ratings. But will Rich Harden turn out to be a savvy selection like Frasier Crane who makes everyone around him better or will he turn out to be a clubhouse jinx like Cousin Oliver? We think he'll likely turn out more like one of these additions to M*A*S*H.

    * Charles Emerson Winchester: He's great at what he does but accumulates such high pitch-counts that he has to turn to speed to make it through the year.

    * B.J. Hunnicut. Nice guy, consummate professional, doesn't provide too many laughs and ultimately winds up back on the West Coast.

    * Sherman T. Potter. On the tail end of his career and prone to tendinitis.

    * The new version of Margaret Houlihan. Less hot, less strident, and in not quite as good shape.

    * The new version of Klinger. He's no Radar O'Maddux, but he eventually adjusts to his new assignment and loses the dresses.

    * That Swedish nurse that one episode. A dream come true. And then he's gone.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-2 for another nice homestand before the All-Star break.

    Week in Preview: A few too many Cubs go to the All-Star game this week before the Cubs head to Houston over the weekend.

    The Second Basemen Report: Of the six games this week, Mighty Mike Fontenot started five with Mark DeRosa starting the other one. DeRosa also got starts in left and right field. Just like jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Mark Grudzielanek picked up his 2,000th major league hit with the Royals this week. He is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Pending All-Star game appearance makes big Z apologetic.

    zam_apologetic.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Excessivo Cubsino is Japanese for "All-Star Game."

    Sweet and Sour Lou: - 70% sweet, 30% sour. Lou is up five points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to winning baseball. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou really loves home cookin', he just can't understand why he can't get the same quality of food when he eats out.

    Center Stage: Jim Edmonds got five starts in center and Reed Johnson got one. Jim Edmonds is the Cubs starting center fielder. It still hasn't sunk in.

    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 Carlos Marmol shouldn't be in a Class A All-Star game right now.

    Over/Under: Amount of time the average baseball fan should spend watching the Home Run Derby: +/- 2 minutes.

    Mount Lou: The All-Star break cools the surface of Mount Lou and even a layer or two of the inner core. But this volcano is still very much alive.

    mtlou_green.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Lou at 05:00 AM | Permalink

    Cab #1336

    Date Taken: 7/11/08
    From: Wicker Park
    To: Roscoe Village

    The Cab: 100% cell phone- and burglar shield-free. Seating is upholstered in plush as opposed to the usual faux-vinyl. Rear-view mirror is adorned with a small stuffed tiger, adding a somewhat quizzical sense of whimsy to an otherwise straightforward conveyance. Radio seems to be locked in retro mode, with such slightly-mildewed hits such as Madonna's "Like a Prayer (extended dance remix)," Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" and Ace of Base's "All That She Wants" on offer. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's all fun and games until one of those fuckers gets wedged in your head.

    The Driver: You'll find yourself leaving Cab #1336 with more questions than answers. Once again, there is the strong suggestion of a fun and engaging personality. This is mostly due to the jaunty Panama hat, striped rugby shirt and classically over-the-top horn-rimmed glasses. However, Driver #1336 keeps himself to himself, with hands firmly locked at 11:00 and 1:00. He's shut off from the world, concentrating solely on the road in front of him. In fact, he's kinda leaning into it a bit . . . Gee, maybe those Coke-bottle specs aren't just for show.

    The Driving: Classic adherent to the Dropped Object school of driving. Science teaches us that an item dropped from the top of a tall building will continue to accelerate on its way down until, inevitably, something abruptly stops it. Similarly, when presented with an open stretch of road, Dropped Object drivers rapidly build speed until . . . well, you can guess the rest. The refinement of this art, however, does cause Driver #1336 to peer sideways at other drivers periodically, perhaps wondering what sinister pedal-shaped force might be tempering their speed. Something of a high priest in the Dropped Object church, he's able to thread the needle on left turns with spine-tingling accuracy. If you're going to be dropped off the top of a tall building, you may as well be flung by the master.

    Overall rating: 3 extended arms

    -Natasha Julius

    *

    There are more than 6,000 cabs in the city of Chicago. We intend to review every one of them.

    Posted by Natasha at 12:53 AM | Permalink

    Social Distortion Channels Marty Stuart & Joe Ely

    1. No truer cowpunk is there this side of the Waco Brothers than Mike Ness of sublime bashers Social Distortion. Ness's revelatory excursions into the dark, dark recesses of honky-tonkabilly angst on 1999's Cheating at Solitaire was an eye-opener. Unlike some folks who succeed at rock 'n' roll and take a right turn into Hanksville, Ness wasn't kidding around.

    Now he tells the Chico, Calif., entertainment weekly Synthesis that there are several new projects in the work for both Ness the hillbilly hellraiser and Social D, probably the only pure punk band that really mattered after 1984. Get ready: after a year of resting up, studio albums for both groups are in the works for early 2009 - and there is talk of another Social Distortion documentary film (watch the first one, Another State of Mind, here).

    mike_ness.jpg"We've got studio albums for both projects," Ness told Synthesis. "It's wide open. (I'm taking) the most part of this year off, and then next year it's time to gear up and get focused, and create. I think it's gonna be great. The time off always helps me prepare for creating subconsciously."

    It's an interesting interview because Ness really kind of lets some personal stuff out of the bag. He says watching himself in the now-seminal documentary about the Orange County punk rebellion is painful: "Part of me looks at that film and wonders who that kid is. Another part of me looks at it like, 'Wow, that was the beginning of this journey!' It's mixed emotions. In a way it's like looking at your yearbook and going, 'God, I was a dork!'"

    He also says his family as a kid was wracked by alcoholism and abuse, and that at age 19 he was working at a mob-owned porno store.

    "I was lucky to make it out of there alive, because I robbed them blind. It was just filthy."

    2. The indomitable Marty Stuart, God bless him. His philosophy is, if commercial radio won't play you, you just go out and totally show them how it's supposed to be done. Even though you made one of the great country-rock albums ever, 1999's The Pilgrim, and you still can't get any play from the programming suits, you push ahead anyway and produce one of the best darn roots-rock shows in the universe, Marty Stuart's American Odyssey.

    Marty is indeed a born showman, as are the members of his band, The Superlatives, each of whom takes a hilarious turn introducing a segment every week. I wish there were some sort of clip I could find to link to . . . XM, a subscription service, is pretty stingy about that kind of thing. But trust me, it's one of many great reasons to sign up for XM Radio. On second thought, it might be better to wait for XM to merge with Sirius Radio and see what kind of product comes out of it.

    Last week Marty gave an interesting interview to the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minn. He talked about The Pilgrim and how he knew it was destined for commercial failure because its vision of a semi-autobiographical song-cycle, a countrified, hillbilly concept record, was something too far out there for Nashville. But it was father-in-law Johnny Cash that persuaded him to persevere and stay on the path of artistic integrity:

    "I'm proud of that one; I'll stand by that," he said. "I pretty much knew the outcome of the album commercially before I pulled the trigger on it. When I was making that record, it was one of the times I would lean on (Cash). At the end of the day, what I took away from J.R. is that he was fearless in terms of creativity. If he believed in something, he was going to do it, come hell or high water, whether or not anybody bought it."

    3. Joe Ely logged a fine appearance on NPR's Mountain Stage show (one the best roots music shows in the land, and well beyond) last August, which was repeated earlier this month and can now be streamed here. It's an appearance NPR is calling "Joe Ely: Veteran Country Caretaker." I don't think I'm real crazy about that headline. It kind of makes it sound like Joe's got on some overalls and is taking his time bringing up his wrench to fix your sink.

    Actually, he does a very nice rendition of "Silver City," the title track from last year's album on Rack 'Em Records. His "All That You Need," a song about a Depression-era family breaking up because of hard times, is again oh so timely.

    And the Carter Family's "Hello Stranger," which he performed back in the '70s with The Flatlanders, gets a sprightly Tex-Mex treatment with Grammy-winning Joel Guzman on the accordion. Joe also talks about his visit to Bristol, Tenn., to do that Mountain Stage show, which included a trip to the site of the Carter Family's landmark 1927 RCA recording sessions. Jimmie Rodgers recorded there, too, yielding the "Big Bang" of recorded country music.

    -

    From the Beachwood Country All-Stars to Dylan's Grammy Museum, the finest bones of rock 'n' roll are rattlin' 'round Don's Root Cellar.

    Posted by Don at 12:50 AM | Permalink

    July 12, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    We've been a bit busy, what with all the sorting and counting and hauling and such, but it's no big thing. We've still got you covered.

    Market Update
    Apparently, the people who lend you money have no money either. So, you know, still pretty rocky out there.

    Presidential High
    Out-going student body president George Bush this week vigorously denied spreading rumors about long-time BFF Silvio Berlusconi, saying he was only repeating what was already written on the bathroom wall. Meanwhile, the fight to succeed Bush continues. Top-jock John McCain is apparently "mega-pissed" that cheerleading captain Carly Fiorina "keeps shooting off her mouth," while uber-geek Barack Obama continues to prove you can hang out with the cool kids without actually being cool.

    Not So Fast . . .
    Hey, remember when North Korea was suddenly going to be all warm and fuzzy? Yeah, we didn't think it was going to last either.

    Not So Hot . . .
    Citing a need for better communication, Chicago top cop Jody Weis has clarified his earlier statements: Crime in our city is not "spiraling out of control." Except for those of us who had it coming anyway.

    Not So Tall . . .
    Local boutique coffee purveyor Intelligentsia this week announced it will no longer offer 20-oz. espresso drinks. "As with world leaders," a company statement declared, "we find the taller ones just cloud the issue."

    Not So Fresh . . .
    And finally this week, French First Lady Carla Bruni says she "understands" if the public rejects her new album because of who she's married to. If they reject her album because it's kinda trite, however, she'll be seriously pissed.

    Posted by Natasha at 08:12 AM | Permalink

    July 11, 2008

    The [Friday] Papers

    A very revealing discussion on Chicago Tonight last night about Jesse Jackson wanting to rip out Barack Obama's nuts.

    Delmarie Cobb, an African-American woman and longtime political insider who supported Hillary Clinton, said Obama's Father's Day speech was "demeaning" and aimed at the traveling press, not the folks in the church that day.

    Laura Washington said that Jackson genuinely supported Obama "but he's had a discomfort with his campaign all along."

    Washington didn't put it exactly this way, but I will: It's because Obama seems to blame black people for their problems the same way conservatives do, as if blacks are inherently morally inferior. Jackson is more apt to blame an economic structure that keeps the poor not only down, but preyed upon by payday lenders, unscrupulous landlords, tobacco and alcohol companies and so on, while ignored by government and left to rot without health insurance, employment opportunities, decent schools or basic public safety.

    White people growing up in similar circumstances would not somehow show more character than blacks do, but that seems to be the flip side of the Obama message.

    Cobb also questioned how describing Obama as another Jesse Jackson would be an epithet, as was inherent in the criticism of Bill Clinton's remarks in South Carolina.

    The implication that Jackson is a poverty pimp or blacks-only leader is incorrect, she said. After all, when he freed hostages or stood with farmers, they were white.

    "It's a rewriting of history throughout the campaign," Cobb said, "throwing African American leaders under the bus."

    Host Eddie Arruza asked Washington if Obama was throwing African American leaders under the bus.

    "That's what Barack Obama's doing, absolutely," she said.

    North on North
    In a preview of John Callaway's interview with Mike North, to be broadcast tonight on WTTW, North mentioned that he stopped drinking last year when he realized he was in for a fight to save his job and needed to be ready for the battle.

    Callaway pressed North, finally asking him if he was an alcoholic.

    Addiction specialists will recognize - and be disturbed by - North's answer.

    "No. They go to meetings. Alcoholics go to meetings. I'm not an alcoholic, I'm a drunk."

    If North wasn't publicly discussing this I wouldn't be either, but when North says he's not an alcoholic because he doesn't go to meetings, that's obviously backwards in reverse. And stopping on his own, as he says he did, only makes him a dry drunk if he doesn't go through some sort of treatment program.

    "I never missed a day of work," he added. "I was able to function that way."

    As many drunks are able to do. They are called functioning alcoholics.

    UPDATE: It's been brought to my attention by a faithful reader that this is an old joke. If you watch the interview tonight, though, I'm sure you'll see that North did not appear to be joking.

    Obama's Message
    The Sun-Times editorial page argues that Obama's message is "on target, and he should stick to it," rejecting Jackson's counter-message, which they describe thusly:

    "He knows of kids who have gone a whole year without a full-time teacher. He knows of families who are on their third move since leaving public housing, each subsidized apartment more run-down than the next."

    But, the Sun-Times says, "that doesn't absolve anyone from taking charge of their life."

    Those are just flesh wounds!

    *

    Funny how we expect the poor to show a moral backbone far greater than that which we demand of the rich and powerful.

    The Daley Show
    So, in other words, Mayor Daley lied to reporters and the public about Taste of Chicago violence and police chief Jody Weis. After all, Daley lambasted the media for its coverage and, in his view, acting as if the Taste was chaos. (One of the local TV stations immediately cut from Daley's words to video from the night in question that clearly showed chaos.)

    But the real takeaway is that Daley wants the public to know, through well-deployed sources, that he dressed down Weis in private. Nice.

    Ask Amy
    Phil Rosenthal nicely summarizes the craziness that is Amy Jacobson's lawsuit against Channel 2, but my favorite part of his column today is when he calls her for comment and she says "Isn't there something else to write about?"

    Please don't cover my lawsuit!

    Here are my favorite parts of the lawsuit (which you can read for yourself here, thanks to the wonders of the Internet) itself, some items of which Rosenthal also mentioned:

    * "She was a well-respected television investigative journalist; some would say the best in the business."

    Name three!

    * "Defendant CBS, with the sole motive of boosting its sagging ratings, first aired an edited videotape and story portraying Plaintiff Jacobson as an adultress and disreputable reporter."

    If that was the sole motive, it didn't work!

    * "CBS collaborated with a Northwestern journalism professor to suggest that Plaintiff Jacobson's actions were criminally and blatantly unethical."

    By "collaborated," she means "asked for comment."

    * Jacobson claims the videotape wasn't newsworthy.

    After complaining about how many news stories about it followed!

    * After graduating from the University of Iowa with a 3.94 GPA, "she progressed from needing food stamps to earning more than $100,000 a year as an award-winning-Chicago reporter."

    I'm not sure what bothers me more, wondering if she was really on food stamps or how terribly unfair it was that she was making more than a hundred grand a year.

    * "Defendant Weldon is an assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern University who does not specialize in ethics."

    Neither does Jacobson!

    "Defendant Weldon's statements and opinions were directly contrary to those of journalism ethics professors around the country."

    Name three!

    * "Plaintiff has made many attempts to gain employment in the news industry. The search has led her from Tampa, FL; to Washington D.C.; to Phoenix, AZ, to Los Angeles, CA and many places in between. Stations have refused to even interview her because of the videotape and the false light Defendants placed her in."

    Maybe tell the food stamps story.

    * "As a direct result of the conduct of Defendants CBS, Ahern, Fowler, Puccinelli, Johnson, Weldon and Reardon, set forth above, Plaintiff, Jaime Anglada [Jacobson's husband], was deprived of the financial support of Amy Jacobson, her companionship, her felicity, sexual relations and related losses."

    Um, what?

    *

    Jacobson will have a very difficult time proving invasion of privacy; her defamation claim is very thin, but her suit does raise questions about the origins of the videotape and the way Channel 2 edited it. If Jacobson can show that Channel 2 reporters/editors/producers ever uttered comments like "Let's get her!" than she might have a fleeting chance. But this lawsuit is extremely thin on legal argument and doesn't seem designed with the objective of actually winning a court case. Whatever the objective, Jacobson didn't do herself any favors with this.

    *

    And as an antidote to Eric Zorn's odd defense of Jacobson (and his usual, screeching attacks on his commenters), remember that 1) Jacobson herself told Spike O'Dell that "I know that I made a horrible mistake; 2) Jacobson was also sharing her reporting with the police, as was her habit and which is a cardinal journalistic sin, and; 3) Channel 5 considered not just the Stebic incident in dismissing her but, according to Rosenthal's reporting, an accumulation of incidents.

    *

    See also:
    - Did fired Channel 5 reporter Amy Jacobson really deliver "scoops"? Soap opera voyeurism should never be mistaken for journalism.

    - When Geraldo Rivera is laughing at your loose journalistic standards, you know you've screwed up. Unless you're Eric Zorn.

    - Amy Jacobson's behavior is even worse than we thought. She was also too close to the police.

    - The track record of a disgraced reporter.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: More than a social call.

    Posted by Lou at 08:42 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. Giving indie director Eric Schaeffer his own reality show is like asking Gary Busey to host the Oscars - it's an invitation to a disaster of epic proportions. Schaeffer's program, "I Can't Believe I'm Still Single," Sundays on Showtime, is an extension of his blog and book of the same name. Each week Schaeffer travels from city to city trying to meet the woman of his dreams while providing a running commentary on his chocolate cake binges, sexual fetishes, frequent colonics and sincere desire to be a parent when he turns 50.

    2. Today we're taking out our Oprah Winfrey gratitude journal and expressing thanks that we've never had occasion to down a Luther Burger, supposedly a favorite of the late Luther Vandross - a pound of ground beef with five strips of bacon, onion and cheese packed inside two Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.

    3. There may be a place for displaying naked Barbie dolls, but your car's dashboard definitely isn't it. That must have come to a shock to Robert Martin of Cape May, N.J., who was arrested for decorating his car's interior with porno magazines, a tray filled with women's panties, and Barbie. It's almost close enough to be installation art, but in reality Martin is just a really creepy guy.

    4. We sense that President Bush has a brilliant career ahead of him coming up with one-liners for gag gifts.. He appeared to be auditioning for the job on Monday when he departed from his last G-8 summit, chortling "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

    5. Finally, don't say "bite me" while waiting in line at a certain South Carolina Burger King drive-thru because there's a good chance that patron Gary Neil Eastwood will take you up on it. Eastwood not only rear-ended customer Thomas Easterling's car, but also bit his nose off when Easterling complained about it. Maybe they were out of Luther Burgers.

    *

    Top Five Bonus!

    *

    Top Five Apologies of the Week

    1.
    Apologizer: Jesse Jackson
    Injured Party: Barack Obama
    Subject: Expression of desire to sever Obama's testicles.

    2.
    Apologizer: Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy
    Injured Party: John and Patsy Ramsey
    Subject: All those years of cable news cross-examination.

    3.
    Apologizer: The American Medical Association.
    Injured Party: African American doctors
    Subject: All those years severing their testicles.

    4.
    Apologizer: The White House
    Injured Party: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
    Subject: Confusing him with President Bush.

    5.
    Apologizer: Smitty's restaurant
    Injured Party: The family of an autistic girl
    Subject: Not having the testicles to stand up to real problem customer.

    -

    Stephanie Goldberg brings you The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week every Friday. Nominations welcome.

    Posted by Lou at 06:15 AM | Permalink

    July 10, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    The fact of the matter is that Jesse Jackson is right: Barack Obama talks down to (poor) black people. His Bill Cosby routine is downright offensive and positively Reaganistic. See, if poor blacks just wouldn't spend all their money at Popeye's maybe they'd make something of themselves!

    I've written before about this here, but Obama hasn't been challenged on the point by the media because, by and large, they agree with the message. It's been a long time since the media championed the poor - the afflicted, if you will - instead of, um, afflicting them.

    Not only that, but as I've pointed out (see the item "Father's Day Farce"), Obama has by his own account been missing-in-action as a father - and he's had a wealth of opportunities his poor brethren haven't had.

    Jesse Jackson feels bad because he - I believe - sincerely doesn't want to hurt Obama's campaign. But the words he uttered reflect - I'm sure - his true beliefs. And he's right.

    The White-Hot Center
    Ralph Nader was wrong - and racist - recently when he accused Obama of "talking white" to appeal to a broader chunk of the electorate. In fact, Obama takes to talking "black" in ways he ordinarily doesn't when he speaks to black audiences.

    Interestingly, though, Jesse Jackson said the same thing as Nader months earlier.

    Junior's Lament
    Jesse Jackson Jr. quickly issued a statement taking his father to task, but Junior is the one who has gone off the rails during this campaign.

    It was Junior who (see the item "Junior Judgement") said "[Hillary's] tears also have to be analyzed" when we know factually that there were no tears, and even if there were, please!

    Junior also chastised Hillary for not showing similar (non-teary?) emotion over Hurricane Katrina.

    The truth is that the Clintons - neither of whom I have ever voted for - have worked on behalf of civil rights for decades. Obama hasn't. And that's why folks like Susie Tompkins Buell are so upset over the Obama campaign.

    Intellectual Honesty
    From Salon's invaluable Glenn Greenwald:

    "It isn't that difficult to keep the following two thoughts in one's head at the same time - though it seems to be for many people:

    (1) What Barack Obama is doing on Issue X is wrong, indefensible and worthy of extreme criticism;
    (2) I support Barack Obama for President because he's a better choice than John McCain.

    Which isn't to say I'm casting my vote for Obama. Or McCain. It's just to make a point.

    Phone Home
    From Quick Takes:

    "Democrats Phoning It In
    "News Item: President Bush insists that new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act include legal immunity for phone companies that helped him carry out domestic spying without warrants.

    "News Item: House, Senate Democrats join Republicans to pass FISA bill with immunity for phone companies.

    "The Democrats do what they can in the midst of the continuing nationwide shortage of spine donors.

    *

    "Can you hear him now?
    "News Item: Barack Obama votes in favor of bill providing immunity for phone companies.

    "A statement from Barack Obama campaign in October:

    "'To be clear, Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.'

    "Good. Just so we have it clear."

    The Old Politics
    Hillary Clinton voted against the FISA bill.

    Most Cynical Campaign Ever
    At this late date, the media is still trying to figure out what Obama believes.

    I'm getting ready to say I told you so, but I just haven't had the time yet to put it together in quite the way I want to. But if you've been paying attention the last couple of weeks, you already get it.

    Access Obama
    Barack had no idea a family interview with Access Hollywood would get so much attention! Apparently he thought he was taping a segment for Public Access Hollywood.

    Race to the Bottom
    "Gallup: Obama Ties McCain Among Less-Educated Voters."

    DNA Implicates Media
    When Mark Brown writes that "we" - meaning the public - are cruel, as evidenced by the way the Ramseys were crucified, how does he think the public got the idea that John and/or Patsy Ramsey murdered their daughter?

    It's not like the public came to that conclusion on its own. Blame the media. And add the Ramseys to the list that includes Richard Jewell, Steven Hatfill, Wen Ho Lee and many others across the country. And who the hell knows about Drew Peterson and Craig Stebic?

    J101: Suspects shall not be named until they are charged. And even then, proper skepticism shall be directed at law enforcement.

    More Lessons
    * When the mother says the baby's legs are broken, check it out.

    * I expressed my continual amazement on Chicago Tonight the other night that our local papers still haven't integrated their print and online operations. What? It's the same newsroom, dillweeds.

    Now comes the Washington Post's new editor and guess what his biggest challenge is? It just makes me tired.

    * "People need to stop looking at TBO.com as an add-on to The Tampa Tribune," the editor there said recently. "The truth is that The Tampa Tribune is an add-on to TBO."

    In the wake of which, the newsroom is directing its ire on an intern (click on the link above and read the whole thing) who gets it far more than they do.

    School Reform
    Remember, there is no correlation between education and money.

    The View From Oakland
    "Cubs fans had just better not pin too much of their October fantasies on Harden," Cam Inman writes in "Not Hard To Say Bye To Harden." "That's a couple months and plenty of starts away, and Harden's durability is an issue. He's like a freshly planted tree you should support with wooden stakes in case of a wind storm.

    Carter Center
    In an Op-Ed in the Sun-Times yesterday that is apparently not available online, a writer from the History News Network asked "Was Jimmy Carter Right?"

    Once again, the "real" news follows The Onion.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Air your grievances.

    Posted by Lou at 09:17 AM | Permalink

    Inflight Radio: Delta

    Recently, on a return trip from Salt Lake City, I had to get my musical kicks from the Delta Tunes after my iPod crapped out at 29,000 feet somewhere above Kansas. Here is a sampling of what I had to endure.

    *

    Channel 5: Classical Masters and Cirque du Soliel Kooza
    What was playing: La Boheme (Giacomo Puccini) Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Robert Spano, conductor. Also, Quando me'n vo', Musetta: Georgia Jarman, among others.
    The Cirque soundtrack explores "universal themes of fear, identity, recognition and power."
    What I heard: Since Salt Lake is a Delta hub, I am almost positive that both of these selections had added lines about the virtues of magic underwear in them to appease the LDS passengers. I'm not sure, however, since I don't speak opera or Mormon.

    *

    Channel 6: Summer's Greatest Hits and Party in the Sky
    What was playing: Many summer classics from my youth, like Chicago's "Saturday in the Park," "Groovin'" by the Rascals, and a recent classic, "Soak Up the Sun," by Sheryl Crow. Then, there were the not-so-classics performed by Miley Cyrus and Yves La Rock.
    What I heard: Again, I swear I heard a few extra refrains about magic underwear and Mitt Romney, but then that could've been an after-affect of the Polygamy Porter I consumed over the weekend.

    *

    Channel 7: Non-Stop Pop and Walt Disney Records' Rock the Summer.
    What was playing: A profile of "critically acclaimed English singer/songwriter Ed Harcourt," Dido, John Mayer, and whiny Maroon 5. As for cringe-inducing Disney, a sibling of a famous child actor (Emily Osment) was featured along with Miley's purer alter ego, Hannah Montana, as well as strippers-in-training The Cheetah Girls.
    What I heard: Pain.

    *

    Channel 8: Smooth R&B and Delta Showcase
    What was playing: "Sophisticated style," "lush lyricism" and "fresh new releases from world-renowned artists" like Sergio Mendes and Lalah Hathaway.
    What I heard: Hathaway has a killer voice, but I couldn't really concentrate because I had this image of Mitt Romney practicing his awkward Republican male dance moves to Mendes. It's not a fun image, I know. It took a number of the $6 dollar Delta martinis to kill it.

    *

    Channel 9: Tribute and Love Sees No Color.
    What was playing: Ah, the politically correct portion of Delta's playlists. It's all about global rhythms and African artists celebrating U2.
    What I heard: Angelique Kidjo's version of "Mysterious Ways" was better than the original. I'm a fan of Kidjo's. Also, Vieux Farka Toure's cover of "Bullet the Blue Sky" shows that talent does run in the family.

    *

    Channel 10: Delta Lifestyles and Jazz After Hours
    What was playing: Podcasts, celebrity interviews and radio interviews. Also, the latest from the jazz world.
    What I heard: Nothing about magic underwear or Mitt Romney. I was overwhelmed with disappointment.

    *

    Channel 11: Country Showcase and Country's Biggest Hits.
    What was playing: Faith Hill, Brad Paisley, Frankenstein look-a-like Randy Travis and all of your country & western favorites!
    What I heard: Nada. Zip. Zilch. I skipped it. My meth supply was hidden so I couldn't take any to get me through one note of this channel.

    *

    Channel 12: Hard Rock Cafe and Sounds Eclectic
    What was playing: The Boss, REM, Joss Stone and the uber-dreamy singer with the best name, Yoav.
    What I heard: Bob Dylan and a couple of his songs covered by others.

    -

    Compare Delta to United!

    -

    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 06:52 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Ode to Amy Jacobson

    This was written on August 25, 2007, but never posted. The opportunity has arisen this week to correct that oversight.

    ODE TO AMY JACOBSON

    I was so
    psyched

    that you
    were on that

    story.
    I could tell,

    like me,
    you could smell

    it on
    the Prick.

    I remember
    the late, great

    Phil Walters, eyes-
    wide with indignation

    gaping to
    Camera

    when Stickney police
    killed

    a deaf black
    man. filled

    him with
    lead

    off I-
    55. Phil contravened

    a regulation
    by letting his

    subjective
    outrage

    show.
    Awww . . .

    Well,
    nobody's

    perfekt.

    -

    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 06:38 AM | Permalink

    July 09, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    Pat Ryan, the insurance impresario and civic titan leading the city's Olympic effort, is presumably a pretty smart guy. So I imagine him reading stories like "Olympic Boss Doubts Violence Will Affect 2016 Bid" and thinking, man, they'll just print anything I say! Because he's never going to say something like, "Yes, come to think of it, I do think the recent violence will hurt our Olympic bid." Or "Yes, come to think of it, I do think our mess of a transit system will hurt our Olympic bid." Or "Yes, come to think about it, ongoing police brutality and political corruption will hurt our Olympic bid." So can we please stop asking him whether every spate of bad news in the city will adversely affect Chicago's Olympic bid?

    U R LAME
    Plz stp tking U R bing clvr whn U do ths.

    CTAnal
    I was on Chicago Tonight last night talking about Amy Jacobson and - separately - the newsroom cuts at the Tribune. Before our segment, CT ran a brief report about the mayor's latest plans for the CTA, including power gumwashers, which looked to me to be high-pressure sprays that also presumably used some super chemical gum-removal formula.

    You know, public gum can be a nuisance, but it's only in a far more perfect world that this should even begin to get anyone's attention at the CTA given the scope of their problems. And yet, there was the mayor saying that "Cleanliness is the top priority." Otherwise, he said, people in suits wouldn't use the CTA.

    Perhaps. But I think people who have jobs and meetings and appointments would be far more likely to use the CTA if they thought it would get them to where they were going on time.

    Crystal Ball
    * "Olympic Boss Doubts Today's Congestion on the Kennedy Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    * "Olympic Boss Doubts Cubs Loss Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    * "Olympic Boss Doubts Failure of CHA Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    * "Olympic Boss Doubts Fewer Starbucks' Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    * "Olympic Boss Doubts Lame Hometown Cheerleading Press Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    Er, wait a second . . .

    All in the Family
    "Morgan Stanley, the New York financial giant that employs one of Mayor Daley's nephews, has been picked to help the Cook County Board borrow $150 million to get by until the county's 1 percent sales-tax increase starts flowing into the treasury," the Sun-Times reports.

    "It's the first deal between the county and Morgan Stanley since the company hired William Daley Jr. - a nephew of the mayor and Cook County Commissioner John Daley - to help win business."

    So . . . Morgan Stanley hired William Daley Jr. to help win business from Cook County. And Billy Jr. gets a cut. Perfect.

    "Over the last year, William Daley Jr. has met with County Board President Todd Stroger and his top two assistants - his chief financial officer, Donna Dunning, and former chief of staff Lance Tyson.

    "'Yes, he made stops to see me,' Dunning said of Bill Daley Jr. 'But he is not working in a senior position. He accompanied William Mack, who is the senior manager for Morgan Stanley. He was there in a junior position.'"

    Oh, well that's different then. He was just there in a junior position. William Mack was in the senior position.

    "Mack was a longtime aide to imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan. Five years ago, Mack, granted immunity from prosecution, testified about directing other state employees to shred documents that Ryan and his campaign manager Scott Fawell feared could be seized by federal agents."

    And so it goes!

    Ryan's Response
    "Olympic Boss Doesn't Think Daley Nepotism Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    P.S.
    "Olympic Boss Doesn't Think Jailed Governors Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    Taste of Violence
    Yes, you could make the argument that policing the Taste of Chicago is a test in crowd control. But really, by 2016 the city will have surveillance cameras wired into our brains - and we'll have to pay an annual fee for the city sticker that we'll be required to plaster on them.

    Jacobson's Justice
    The Sun-Times editorial board doesn't think Amy Jacobson's lapse in judgement should cost her her TV career. Q: Would the Sun-Times hire a reporter who brings her kids to the home of a murder suspect and, by the way, shares her reporting with the cops?

    Wait, don't answer that.

    Swimsuit Lawsuit
    I encourage readers to take a trip through Jacobson's lawsuit against Channel 2, which you can find here at Change of Subject. I'm pressed for time this morning, but I'll try to highlight my favorite parts tomorrow - including her college GPA!

    Comedy Gold
    "Police: Suspect Tried To Rob Bar With Cheese Grater."

    Local Reaction
    "Olympic Boss Doesn't Think Cheese Grater Robbery Will Affect 2016 Bid."

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Lactose intolerant.

    Posted by Lou at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    The Green Party's Ten Key Values

    The Green Party will hold its national convention right here in Chicago Thursday through Sunday. These are the party's "Ten Key Values" as originally ratified at its convention in Denver in 2000.

    -

    1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
    Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

    2. SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
    All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.

    3. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
    Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

    4. NON-VIOLENCE
    It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society's current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

    5. DECENTRALIZATION
    Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

    6. COMMUNITY-BASED ECONOMICS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
    We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a "living wage" which reflects the real value of a person's work.

    Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers' rights; broad citizen participation in planning; and enhancement of our "quality of life." We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that distribute resources and control to more people through democratic participation.

    7. FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY
    We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

    8. RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
    We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.

    We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity.

    9. PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
    We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.

    10. FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITY
    Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or "unmaking" all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.

    Posted by Lou at 08:17 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Trump's New Erection

    TRUMP'S NEW ERECTION

    Blue. Perfect!
    Large blue base,
    tapering to a phallic
    point, "can it be
    taller than the
    BIGGEST, the SEARS

    Tower? Please, fellas?"
    I get it: Skyscrapers,
    like a Saturn Five
    Rocket,
    all look
    like a huge prick.

    This one, though,
    takes the proverbial
    SOFT, tender cake. BLUE, taperered,
    phallic beyond metaphor.
    Get rich to get
    pussy, sure, sure. Sorry-ass

    mother-
    FUCKER.
    Wow: if you have to
    pay for it
    you really have to
    pay for it.

    Compensation for the
    comb-over? MERCY, I'm too
    judgmental!
    Penis, penis, penis,
    PENIS, hard BLUE

    PENIS.
    Seriously, Donald.
    Welcome to a
    REAL CITY.
    Jesus!

    HA!

    -

    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 08:09 AM | Permalink

    July 08, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    We have some new features here at the Beachwood that I've never properly introduced, so here we go:

    * I Shot the Band is the brainchild of our music guru Don Jacobson, who is now reviewing amateur videos of mostly local bands. He has three in the can so far:

    - Company of Thieves at Welles Park.

    - Funhouse at the Kankakee Fish Fry.

    - Lady Tramaine Hawkins at the Millennium Park.

    * TV Notes is sort of a companion to our popular What I Watched Last Night feature. A new TV Notes is up today.

    * Citizen Kate is citizen journalism Beachwood-style, in conjunction with the Citizen Kate TV folks.

    * Big in Japan is the debut feature from the Beachwood's foreign affairs desk. In the latest installment, correspondent Dan Simon writes about corruption in Tokyo.

    And of course, all your old favorites are still here. New contributors are always welcome, as are cash donations, ill-gotten gains and money that needs laundering.

    Nor A Wife-Beater
    Marking a new low.

    "A Blagojevich spokeswoman responded to the Chicago Tribune: 'He's not a sociopath'."

    Rod Elia
    Just catching up with the governor's recent freak-out.

    First the Lady?
    The parlor game among political insiders right now is if Patti will be indicted before Rod.

    School Rules
    "Malia and Sasha Obama attend the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where Michelle Obama is on the board."

    Two more liberals committed to public schools - for everyone else.

    Peas in a Pod
    Add two more: Rod and Patti Blagojevich.

    "When Gov. Blagojevich declined to move his family from Chicago to the Executive Mansion in Springfield, a big reason was his daughter's private school. 'She's comfortable there and likes it there and has her friends there,' Blagojevich explained after winning office in November 2002," the Sun-Times reported last month.

    "Since then, the governor has helped give his daughter, and now her younger sister, more reason to like Rogers Park Montessori School. His administration assisted the school's leaders in building a new, state-of-the-art facility, with 17 classrooms, a high-school-sized gymnasium and foliage-covered roof."

    Well, that could just be coincidence.

    "State records show the governor personally signed off on the borrowing plan at the same time his wife, Patti Blagojevich, sat on the school's board."

    Well, that could just be coincidence.

    "Blagojevich wrote a letter signing off on the borrowing deal on Sept. 27, 2004, at the same time his wife was one of the school's 12 board members. The Finance Authority's board - picked by Blagojevich - unanimously approved the lending plan in November 2004."

    I'm sure the Finance Authority's board was full of upstanding people who would never do the governor a favor.

    "The agency's chief at that time was Ali D. Ata."

    Oh. Well, at least the governor's not a sociopath.

    Style Icon
    Is she Chicago's It Girl?

    I Love the Internet Pt. 384762
    Sites spotted in the news recently:

    * tankonempty.com
    * coolstandings.com
    * downforeveryoneorjustme.com

    Old Media
    The Tribune published its annual features on bike messengers and the city's odors today.

    Campaign Comedy
    "The funniest line out of the presidential campaign so far: Barack Obama is demanding more preconditions for debates with John McCain than he is for a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

    - Steve Huntley, "Can Bush's Iraq Policy Rescue Obama?"

    Kelly Girl
    Catching up with the R. Kelly verdict.

    * "After R. Kelly was able to avoid trial for six years, few people believed he would be convicted on child pornography charges," Mary Mitchell wrote.

    "For that to happen, prosecutors would have had to keep all black people off the jury."

    Um, what?

    * "'Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus,' Kelly whispered as each not guilty verdict was read."

    As Kathy Griffin might say, no one had less to do with that verdict than Jesus.

    * Jim DeRogatis says it all.

    * And don't forget how Kelly avoided prosecution in Florida.

    Orange Country
    My first newspaper job after college was at The Ledger in Lakeland. I worked for six months in the Winter Haven bureau, then was a police reporter in Lakeland for a year. Here is their current crime map.

    Of course, we were more interested in reporting on how the law enforcement agencies in the area did their jobs than random crime events. But I did see my first dead body there. It was stiff.

    Play Nice
    "We're less than two weeks from the Pitchfork Music Festival," Chicagoist reminds us, "which means it's time to get your Hipster Bingo cards printed."

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with one free side.


    Posted by Lou at 08:59 AM | Permalink

    TV Notes: Wipeout, True Life, Venting

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

    1. The sucker-punch wall is priceless.

    I will defend to the death programming like this.

    2. True Life continues to produce.

    3. This is an older one, but I love when the kids says "total failure on the cool meter."

    4. "I'm like the spawn of a clown."

    5. It would have been nice if Budweiser could have produced this without adding their name to the end. Just do the right thing and put it out there. Unless you're just trying to sell beer.

    6. According to that new Coors commercial - and, well, most of mainstream media - wives apparently don't allow their husbands to hang out with their friends. Unless they need to vent. Ugh.

    7.The True Venting.

    "That is America blowing out of these vents!"

    -

    Comments welcome!

    -

    Previously in TV Notes:

    * Top Chef, High Life, Elf Food.
    * Henpeckers and Hysterics.
    * Top Chef, Shamwow, Celebrity Rehab.
    * ESPN, GEICO, Meet the Press.

    Posted by Lou at 07:11 AM | Permalink

    Reviewing the Reviews

    Let's catch up.

    Women's Work
    "The New York Times Book Review has never exactly embraced passionate advocacy - unless it was promoting Pynchon's and DeLillo's place in the postmodernist canon. Even worse, it has become the place where serious feminist books come to die - or more accurately, to be dismissed with the flick of a well-manicured postfeminist wrist," writes Sarah Seltzer in Bitch. (h/t: Literago).

    "Recently, Times editors - in both the daily paper and the Sunday section - have trotted out a particularly insidious formula for bashing feminist authors. First, hire a female reviewer to unleash misogynist tropes in her piece and then, lest she appear prejudiced against her own gender, throw in an illogical, contradictory statement about the importance of a less threatening version of feminism that isn't so 'polarizing,' 'provocative,' or 'strident'."

    Chinese Democracy
    "Philip Roth once contrasted, slightly enviously, the American writer, who can say anything he wishes but is usually ignored, with his Eastern Bloc counterpart, who, since nothing is permitted to him, receives respectful attention for everything he writes," Pankaj Mishra recalls in "Tiananmen's Wake," a review of Ma Jian's Beijing Coma.

    "Born in 1953, Ma Jian is one of the Chinese artists and intellectuals who came of age in the last years of the Cultural Revolution. Exempt from personal participation in the worst excesses of Maoism, this generation, which includes China's best-known filmmakers, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, as well as the artist Ai Weiwei, was the first to dare embrace the possibilities of artistic maneuver in China's unruly transition from the 'struggle session' to the free market. As the Communist Party, adopting a market economy, shed some of its ideological orthodoxy, anything seemed possible - at least, until the next crackdown.

    "Ma Jian seems to have hovered on the raffish end of the new countercultural spectrum - what the Sinologist John Minford termed the 'culture of the liumang (an untranslatable term loosely meaning loafer, hoodlum, hobo, bum, punk).' Divorced from his first wife and abandoned by his girlfriend, Ma Jian feigned illness at work and hung out with other misfits, drinking beer and discussing Waiting for Godot. Accused of 'spiritual pollution' by the authorities, he left Beijing in late 1983 and, travelling with a camera, a notebook, and Whitman's Leaves of Grass, wandered around China for three years, subsisting on odd jobs and the kindness of friends and strangers. The commissars caught up with him in 1987, when, having just moved to Hong Kong, he published a story based on his travels in Tibet. The story, describing the degradation of China's most religious minority, apparently spurned socialist realism's demand for cheerful uplift, and it earned Ma Jian a blanket ban on publication in China."

    Um, wow. What more do you need to know?

    Health & Welfare
    "There are so few good belly laughs in health care these days. What a pity I am likely to be the only person on the planet to enjoy the guffaw-laden, if slightly unnerving, experience of reading Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Dr. Nortin Hadler's new books in tandem, taking careful notes," Abigail Zuger wrote recently in the Times.

    "With chirpy, can-do optimism [Dr. Snyderman] recapitulates the standard wisdom. Watch your diet, exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, be screened regularly for a variety of dire illnesses, rein in cholesterol and blood sugar, stay in touch with your doctor and be sure to check out those aches and pains pronto, just in case. So speaks the medical establishment.

    "Dr. Hadler, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina who is a longtime debunker of much the establishment holds dear. Dr. Hadler may not actually keep a skull on his desk, but he might as well. We are all going to die, he reminds us. Holding every dire illness at bay forever is simply not an option. The real goal is to reach a venerable age -- say 85 -- more or less intact. And the statistics tell Dr. Hadler that ignoring most of the advice Dr. Snyderman offers is the way to do it."

    Franklin Delano Clinton
    I'm not condoning adultery, but I find it fascinating how the press treats Bill Clinton's alleged improprieties compared to those of FDR and JFK. For example:

    "An offhand comment by Eleanor Roosevelt to her mother-in-law in 1920 - " 'Did you know Lucy Mercer married Mr. Winty Rutherfurd two days ago?' " - masked what was probably the most painful emotional trauma of her life: the discovery of a wartime affair between her husband, Franklin, then assistant secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration, and her social secretary, the well-bred and charming Lucy Mercer," Susan Ware wrote last month in a Tribune book review.

    "Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce, but he chose to stay married, in large part because of his political ambitions; elected office would have been out of the question for a divorced man. In addition, his domineering mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, threatened to cut off his inheritance if he left Eleanor and his five children for Lucy. In this tense family drama, FDR agreed never to see Lucy again, a promise we now know he failed to keep. The Lucy Mercer story and its aftershocks continued to play out in complicated ways for the rest of the Roosevelts' marriage, culminating with Eleanor learning that Lucy had often visited the White House in her absence during the war and was with FDR the day he died at Warm Springs, Ga., in 1945.

    "The story of FDR and Lucy has been known for decades."

    John F. Clinton
    Meanwhile, Ted Sorenson has been flogging a new book while given a free pass on burnishing the myth of Camelot, not the reality.

    "He acknowledges Kennedy's promiscuities," Jack Rosenthal wrote placidly in a recent New York Times review. "'At this stage, it does not honor J.F.K. for me to attempt to cover up the truth . . . Sometimes blind loyalty is trumped by overriding principles of truth and decency.'"

    At this stage? As opposed to this stage? Or when it was happening?

    "He says elliptically that 'high jinks in the White House swimming pool, long alleged, were perhaps inappropriate but not illegal.' In any case, 'I know of no occasion where his private life interfered with the fulfillment of his public duties.'"

    Sorenson once dismissed tales of high jinks (a charitable description, given Seymour Hersh's reporting) in the White House swimming pool; Hersh also showed that JFK's private life indeed interfered with his public duties. Let's not live in the land of myth anymore.

    -

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


    Posted by Lou at 06:25 AM | Permalink

    Big in Japan: The Chicago Way

    Although the distance between Soldier Field and the Tokyo Dome is almost 8,000 miles, and residents here prefer sashimi and yakitori to Vienna beef and Chicago-style pizza, there is a familiar theme that connects the two metropolitan areas: corruption. Beachwood readers are familiar with the monopoly the Daley family has had on Chicago politics - and political scandals - over the past 60 years. In Tokyo, city scandals are also rampant, but the nature of the Tokyo scandal is slightly different. Call it the Tokyo Way.

    Chicago underwent major political and industrial changes in the early 20th century and transformed itself into modern metropolis. Politicians aligned themselves ethnically, and eventually Daley the First emerged out of Bridgeport as the political top-dog. He was no stranger to scandal.

    Japan underwent a dramatic transformation at the end of the 19th century. Called the Meiji Restoration, it was during this time when the last of the Samurai surrendered their power back to the emperor (famously and inaccurately reenacted in the Tom Cruise film The Last Samurai). This period also was the start of the movement of Japanese society from feudalism to imperialism and began the modern Japanese capitalist economic push. After World War II, power shifted from an imperial government to political organizations. Public government scandal followed shortly thereafter.

    In Chicago, city government-related scandals are not uncommon. For years, various charges have swirled around Richard M. Daley, yet he has seemed to remain politically invulnerable. Although Daley has never been taken out by a scandal, he remains - as his father was before him - the public figure most closely associated with city corruption.

    Shintaro Ishihara is probably the closest thing to a Japanese equivalent of Daley. He is the current governor of Tokyo and has been involved in politics for 40 years. He has been a war correspondent, author, and actor. He is a member of Japan's most powerful political group, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

    Ishihara is fervently right-wing and nationalistic, stirring international controversy for his 1990 Playboy interview in which he claimed that the Rape of Nanking was fiction. He is considered by many as a racist. In 2007, Bloomberg's William Pesek compared him to French ultra-nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen. His duties are similar to that of the mayor; however, unlike Daley and his father before him, Ishihara is not so publicly associated with corruption. He is more of a political celebrity with tolerated controversial views than the public face of scandal.

    Ishihara, like Daley, has come dangerously close to real consequences for shady behavior. He recently had to apologize to the public for questionable decision-making after convincing the city in 2005 to put 100 billion yen of its money into a bank, Shinginko Tokyo, which subsequently incurred a cumulative loss of 101.6 billion yen by the end of March. "It's classic pork barrel stuff," the Asian business correspondnet of the Times of London wrote. Ishihara was questioned in an internal investigation and later apologized but - as often happens in Daley's Chicago - someone else was scapegoated.

    Tokyo certainly has its share of corrupt officials, and plenty of illegal backroom scheming. Many scandals in Tokyo are related to construction contract bid-rigging and bribery. Tacit acceptance of scandal by other political officials and wrist-slapping from the court system does little to deter city corruption. And when scandal is exposed, punishment is rarely harsh. Last week, Michio Uchida, a former top official at the Japanese Highway Corporation was sentenced by the Tokyo High Court to 2-1/2-years in prison for instigating several rigged road construction bids. As is often the case in corruption convictions in Tokyo, the sentence was suspended. Officials convicted of corruption or embezzlement are often given suspended sentences and later re-hired to government posts under the condition that they become "temporary" one-year workers. Their contracts are usually renewed, and they are not always denied a pension.

    Could Daley survive as a political entity out here? Anything is possible. It may be the case that Time magazine acted wisely in 2005 when they applied the term "imperial" to Daley's mayoral style.

    He has the political chops for the job. More likely, after an inevitable scandal he would experience the fate of many "disgraced" Japanese politicians and bureaucrats. He would be publicly chided, fined a small amount of money (usually the equivalent to the amount of the bribe taken) given a suspended jail sentence and quietly hired back into politics in a lower post.

    It's not pretty, but maybe it's a slight improvement over the Chicago Way.

    -

    Previously in Big in Japan:
    * Not Fukudome
    * The Yokohama Cubs.

    Posted by Lou at 05:35 AM | Permalink

    July 07, 2008

    The [Monday] Papers

    1. Rod Blagojevich finally broke away from Cubs games and fundraisers long enough to issue 19 pardons - on July 3rd, when few people were looking. It's almost as if he didn't want anyone to know that the cases included "a dead man who served more than a dozen years in prison for a rape and murder he didn't commit" and "three men who were exonerated in 2002 after a federal investigation forced Chicago police to re-examine the 1997 kidnapping and murder that led to their convictions," according to the Tribune.

    "The men spent years in jail before authorities determined they were not involved in the crimes, and have been awaiting the pardon decision for some time."

    2. At least those folks made it to trial. The Sun-Times reports today that 36 inmates at the Cook County Jail have been waiting for their day in court for more than five years. Andre Crawford - the alleged Englewood rapist - has been in jail since Jan. 31, 2000 without trial. "A total of 430 prisoners have waited two years or more," the paper says.

    3. "While presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama likes storylines to focus on micro donors, the Democratic apparatus he sits on top of is dependent on big fund-raisers who can deliver - and in turn want to be treated well at the convention. Obama's campaign finance operation will be running a VIP convention operation, with at least 300 rooms in the best hotels in Denver set aside for its very top bundlers," Lynn Sweet reports this morning.

    "For top Democratic donors, the convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver in August means access to hard-to-get credentials, VIP parties, special briefings, concierge service and coveted rooms in the city's top hotels."

    4. How surprised are you that the mayor's touted Plan for Transformation is markedly off the rails?

    5. Imagine how much Comcast could cut my cable rates if they wouldn't spend so much money sending me mailers trying to get me to subscribe . . .

    6. The family behind the O'Hare Towing Service is the subject of a new reality TV show that starts next week, Mary Wisniewski reports.

    "The Gratziannas had to teach the film crew at NorthSouth Productions that there aren't any retakes when you're trying to move a tractor-trailer blocking lanes on the expressway," she writes.

    7. I was prepared to hate this but I have to admit it's pretty good.

    8. Richard Roeper blows the whistle on The Secret - and chides Oprah (and Ellen DeGeneres, Larry King and Montel Williams) in the process.

    Let's take Oprah for who she is: a New Age guru of false hope, quackery and snake oil who has proven once again that it's not hard to seduce tens of millions of people into believing nonsense if your production values are high enough.

    9. I couldn't find a digital version of the all-time greatest Oprah profile, but I did find these letters responding to it.

    10. Sponsored by Oprah & Friends. This was recently in Chicago. I wonder if Obama attended.

    11. "Our family camps or stays in public cabins in several states each year, and every one of the other states has a better system."
    - Dale's Mailbag

    12. The Trib discovers locavores! Next: fist bumps.

    13. "Unless you live under a rock or high up in a mountain peak somewhere, you are probably all-too-familiar with the trendy phenomenon known as the Local Food Movement - also known as 'food patriotism'."

    - Beachwood, January 2008

    14. "If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic schoolchildren would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses."

    - Lenny Bruce, as recalled by Rick Kogan on Sunday

    15. Chicago's Most Wanted.

    16. "Mike Royko once wrote a column comparing gay weddings to the marriage of monkeys," Neil Steinberg wrote recently.

    It's true. I couldn't find a linkable version of the colum, but it was on March 22, 1974 in the Chicago Daily News. The headline: "Going Bananas Over Liberation."

    Six days later Royko wrote a column called "There'll Be No Apology."

    "Royko's bias even more blatant in an incident twenty years after he compared gay rights with monkey rights," wrote Edward Alwood in Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media. "During his arrest on charges of drunken driving and resisting arrest in Chicago on Dec. 17, 1994, Royko began shouting at the police, 'Fuck you, fag, get your fucking hands off me. Get away from me, what are you, fags? Why are you wearing those fag gloves for?''"

    Later at the station, according to the police report, Royko responded to an officer who asked if he wanted medical help: "What are you, Croatian? You fucking loser! What's your ethnicity, you fag?''

    And as recounted by Jerry Pritikin right here on the Beachwood, Royko once screamed "They should arrest all the faggots!"

    17. Vanity Fair on Al Gore:

    "He got a bum rap. Gore never claimed to have 'invented the Internet,' though columnists said otherwise and had sport with him anyway. Here's what Gore really did: throughout the 1980s, as a senator from Tennessee, he stood out as a highly visible, early proponent of networking. In 1991, Congress passed the High-Performance Computing Act, also known as 'the Gore Act,' which paved the way for a privatized commercialized Internet that could thrive and evolve outside the government's hands - in other words: the Internet as we know it today."

    Some of us were saying so at the time, but the MSM didn't hear us. Some of us were saying the same thing during the Democratic primary too, but the MSM didn't hear us. Twenty years from now Vanity Fair will realize what really just happened and how the Obama campaign pulled it off.

    18. Paul Krugman on fake scandals. Of course, Somerby's been writing about this every day for years. See "The Ubiquity of the Inanity."

    19. Rahm Emanuel is one of those featured in Pennsylvania Avenue.

    20. Instant classic: "Out-of-control Shriner go-cart hits 4 parade viewers."

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Liberty is a lie.


    Posted by Lou at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Mike Gravel's Declaration of Independence

    July 5, 2008

    When in the course of human events, unattended grievances make it necessary for citizens to reexamine the structure of their government and bring about change.

    We were once a great nation, created by immigrants from foreign lands who populated a bountiful continent.

    We now witness our nation's prestige and our domestic liberties considerably diminished.

    We, who suffer the consequences of a dysfunctional system of government, seek to reaffirm our founding principles and to improve upon the structure of representative government.


    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all human beings are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Government is instituted in society, deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

    However, if a Government controlled by special interests becomes unconcerned with the public's wellbeing and destructive of the people's rights, it is the duty of the people to change that government to provide security and happiness for its citizens.

    The malevolent corrupting power of money on the body politic has caused repeated injuries to the public interest.

    To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a suffering nation and a disillusioned world:

    The Presidency and the Congress are steeped in the cult of secrecy that denies a free people knowledge of what their government is doing to them and to others in their name. Secrecy is the foremost destructive force to democracy.

    The Presidency and the Congress have failed, after the oil shock of 30 years ago, to provide leadership to end our dependency on oil. Continued reliance on oil distorts our foreign policy and causes Americans to disproportionately pollute the environment.

    The Presidency and the Congress have been complicit in permitting a small, rapacious, greedy minority of money managers and corporate titans to manipulate the U.S. and global financial markets for their selfish gain.

    The Presidency and the Congress have redefined the criminal act of terrorism as an act of war in order to maintain the nation in a constant state of war, which in the words of James Madison is the worst of all evils in that it facilitates the control of the many by the few.

    The Presidency and the Congress have obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing the right of habeas corpus to fellow human beings, regardless of national origin, and by transporting them to secret prisons in foreign countries to be tortured and held without knowledge of their crimes or their accusers.

    The Presidency and the Congress have plundered our treasury to fund unnecessary and illegal wars and foreign military adventures based on lies and misinformation.

    The Presidency and the Congress wage psychological war on their own citizens to induce unfounded and unreasonable fear of non existent threats in order to militarize America's culture and make acceptable ludicrous defense expenditures - greater than all the rest of the world combined - when in fact there is no nation capable or desirous of threatening our security.

    The Presidency and the Congress, in pursuit of an illogical "war on drugs," export military weapons that violently destabilize foreign democracies. Their "war on drugs" ravages America's inner cities, destroys the families of our most disadvantaged citizens, and puts more of its own citizens in prison than any other country in the world.

    The Presidency and the Congress encourage and fund our self-appointed role as "the world's policeman," becoming the basis for American Imperialism and for distorting our nation's budget priorities with excessive funding for the military-industrial complex.

    In every electoral contest, Americans vote for change. Yet real change is never realized. Despite creative advances in the private sector of human society, our public sector - government - is mired in partisan stalemate, unable to respond to the complex global demands of the 21st Century.

    The political structures of our current representative democracy were designed in the 18th Century and are not susceptible to change.

    Therefore, We Citizens of the United States of America, in our capacity as the sovereign creators of our government and its Constitution, solemnly declare that we seek a greater role in our own self-governance, beyond that of merely voting and giving away our power to politicians on Election Day.

    We choose freedom - the right to participate in the central power of government - the right to initiate and vote on laws - in partnership with those we elect to our governing legislative bodies. As sovereign human beings we have the innate right to collectively make majoritarian decisions on the policies that affect our lives.

    We, the people, recognize that elected officials at all levels of American government have no incentive to share legislative power with the people.

    Therefore, we pledge our efforts, for as long as it takes, to circumvent government inertia by directly voting to enact, as the law of the land, the National Initiative for Democracy. This federal ballot initiative amends the Constitution in a manner similar to the precedent set in Article VII. It creates an Electoral Trust, separate form representative government, to implement, on behalf of the people, legislative procedures established in an accompanying federal statute.

    The enactment of the National Initiative essentially creates a Legislature of the People in every government jurisdiction of the United States, operating in a legislative partnership with elected federal, state and local legislative bodies.

    Enacting the National Initiative in the United States - or for that matter in any country - continues the major advances in direct democracy begun by the Swiss in 1848 and improved upon when copied by 24 American states and hundreds of American local governments over the last 100 years.

    The global impact of empowering people to vote directly on public policy issues that affect their lives will change forever the paradigm of human governance - a goal worthy of pledging our lives, our property and our sacred honor.

    -

    See also:
    * Mike Gravel Ends Campaign: A maverick moves on.

    * Mike Gravel's Next Chapter: Power to the People.

    * Gravel: I'm With Jesse.

    * Gravel. Kicks. Ass.

    * Gravel parties with the Libertarians.

    Posted by Lou at 08:12 AM | Permalink

    A Libertarian Party

    Our correspondent on the road caught up with Mike Gravel and his band of freedom-drinkers at the Libertarian National Convention in Denver. Libertarians, she learned, are the answer. Watch as she tries to figure out the question.

    Since the convention, party-shopper Mike Gravel, upon losing the Libertarian nomination for president (following his washout as a Democratic candidate), has found better answers over at the Green Party. Citizen Kate will be at their convention here in Chicago this weekend to bring you the news as only she can.

    -

    Citizen Kate: Citizen journalism comes to the Beachwood.

    Posted by Lou at 07:59 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Regulated Militia Well

    REGULATED MILITIA WELL

    after William Carlos Williams

    A well regulated Militia,
    being necessary

    to the security of a free State,
    the right of the people

    to keep and bear Arms,
    shall not be infringed.

    A WELL REGULATED MILITIA BEING NECESSARY
    WELL REGULATED MILITIA WELL REGULATED

    MILITIA
    being necessary

    the right of the people
    to a WELL REGULATED A WELL

    REGULATED MILITIA
    it tastes

    good
    to me it tastes

    good
    to me

    A WELL REGULATED
    MILITIA BEING NECESSARY

    shall not be infringed shall not
    be

    infringed A WELL REGULATED
    MILITIA

    -

    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 07:37 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday

    Was there ever a better illustration of the baseball adage "momentum is the next day's starting pitcher" than Sunday's game in St. Louis? The previous Cubs-Cards clash was a potentially devastating loss for the boys in blue, the kind that seemed certain to kick off a losing streak.

    Starting with Jim Edmonds dogging it on a potential eighth-inning sacrifice fly (if Cub fans want to boo him his first time up against the Reds this week, that will be OK with me) and getting himself thrown out at the plate and ending with Kerry Wood starting the ninth with a pair of walks and going downhill from there, it was plain ugly.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The White Sox Report
  • The Cub Factor
  • But then Sean Marshall pitches six masterful innings the next day and the Cubs match the Cardinals' only glimmer of hope, Ryan Ludwick's sixth-inning solo home run to pull within two (3-1), with a run of their own in the seventh (on Derrek Lee's large two-out double). And that's that (that was especially that when the Cubs scored three more before they were through). The losing streak ended before it started.

    Breaking news: The Brewers are going to finalize a trade for C.C. Sabathia on Monday. That's a problem, but it's not a huge problem.

    Milwaukee envisions Sabathia and Ben Sheets as a classic one-two pitching punch but Sheets is overdue for his annual injury. Every year the Brewers' ace tantalizes with his talent, and every year some injury puts him down for the count when it counts.

    What's most problematic is that Milwaukee will apparently be giving up about the third-leading prospect in its system along with a few other lower-level minor leaguers to make the deal (stories this week suggested Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy might be part of the trade package but early reports Sunday evening seemed to rule him out).

    Cleveland will apparently be making this deal well before the trade deadline without even considering any sort of package of prospects from the Cubs' organization. That certainly reflects poorly on the overall talent level down on the farm.

    On the other hand, Len and Bob were talking Sunday about the fact that Ryne Sandberg's Peoria Cubs recently won their 11th in a row, so there must be at least a prospect or two calling central Illinois home this summer. It's that or Mr. Sandberg is working managerial magic the likes of which we haven't often seen around here.

    Camo Sox
    I was all set to write a biting little bit about all of those ridiculous camouflage uniforms worn by the White Sox and others along with the special blue caps with red, white and blue color schemes within the team logos (many of those actually look sharp). The uniforms and the caps were parts of baseball's efforts to "honor the military" over the July 4th weekend.

    Ha, I would have harrumphed, as if this is about anything other than selling more merchandise at the team shop. But then I found out that a significant portion of the proceeds go to a fund dedicated to helping veterans transition back into civilian life. All I can say to that is that if you can't pummel Major League Baseball for crafty little money-grubbing schemes, well, what can you pummel?

    Grating Gordon
    I used to cringe at the idea of the Bulls trading Ben Gordon because I used to wonder who would score when it counted if Gordon wasn't here. So many of the 50-plus regular-season and playoff wins in 2006-07 seemed to hinge on Gordon coming through with big baskets late. Then in 2007-08, teams wised up about the Bulls' shooting guard and rushed to contest his jumpers no matter how far out he stood at the time. In the process, they essentially gave him an engraved invitation to try to go to the hole. They knew he was a turnover waiting to happen as he dribbled toward and then into the lane.

    But Gordon's main problem, and the reason his re-signing should be the Bulls' last priority (as opposed to the first, as Genius John Paxson has suggested), is his performance when the other team has the ball. He simply cannot play defense.

    We know Kirk Hinrich can D up (when he's not sitting on the bench in foul trouble). And so can Larry Hughes, although it seemed like he decided to stop doing so late in his tenure with the Cavaliers (before he was traded to the Bulls as part of the Ben Wallace deal in the middle of last season). Those guys get the shooting guard P.T. this year, plain and simple.

    Of course, all of this doesn't matter a ton because the coach will still be Vinny Del Negro. Vinny Del Negro! Usually a little time passes and I can get on board with a Chicago coaching hire at least a little bit. I'll do my best to accentuate the positives and if not eliminate the negatives at least tamp them down. I just can't do it with this one. Wouldn't it be neat if Paxson could be forced to explain how Del Negro will be the coach to convince Larry Hughes to play defense again (he once led the league in steals)? Of course that's not going to happen.

    Cricket Chirp
    A huge win for Sri Lanka in the final of the Asian Cup over the weekend - the tiny island nation's best cricketers piled up exactly 100 more runs than India to earn the triumph. India had plenty of success earlier in the tournament but in the end, the Sri Lankan bowlers were too tough. No matter what's happened before, it always comes down to the starting bowling.

    -

    Jim Coffman appears in this space every Monday with the best sports wrap-up in the city. You can write to him personally! Please include a real name if you would like your comments to be considered for publication.

    Posted by Lou at 07:17 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    Alexei Ramirez wasn't one of two White Sox players chosen for the All-Star team, but he's still getting plenty of attention this week, including columns in both the Tribune and Sun-Times. Here's how they stack up.

    -

    Tribune: "The Skinny on Alexei."

    Sun-Times: "Stick Man."

    *

    Writer

    Tribune: Mike Downey

    Sun-Times: Carol Slezak

    *

    Most Famous For

    Downey: Married to Dean Martin's daughter.

    Slezak: For saying this about Greg Olsen and his Seventh Floor Crew:

    "After listening to all 8 minutes and 56 seconds of this unbelievably disgusting rap, I was shaking in anger and shock. How is it possible for these young men to have such little respect - or is it hatred? - for women? If Don Imus got fired for the comments he made about the Rutgers women's basketball team, these guys deserve jail time by comparison."

    *

    Number of words

    Downey: 1,038

    Slezak: 799

    *

    Best Quote

    Downey, from hitting coach Greg Walker:

    "I let him be. like to give a guy a week or two to be himself, to see what he can do. I said, 'I'll wait a while and then I'll let this kid know he's raising that foot of his way too high.'

    "Before I can say a word, I see Alexei come to bat and lift the foot about half as high. Then a little lower. And I watch him make other adjustments in the box. I told myself, 'This is a smart young hitter we have here. This guy is a ballplayer.' "

    Slezak, from the man himself (through a translator):

    ''My teammates mess around with me. But I'm eating fine. I eat a lot. It's just my metabolism is fast, I guess. But when weight comes, it comes. I'm just going to keep myself in shape.''

    *

    Number of times Ramirez's slim frame is referenced

    Downey: 3

    Slezak: 16

    *

    Most interesting tidbit

    Downey: Alexei named his new son Alexi.

    Slezak: "Adjusting to cold weather, he said. He never had experienced it before. And he hated it."

    -

    Week in Review: A sweep over the suddenly CC-less Indians, followed by a four-game split with those pesky A's.

    Week in Preview: Series' against KC and Texas- both on the road- takes the Sox to the All-Star break.

    Fields on the Farm: Um, he has fewer errors than the All-Star Crede, so that's cool.

    All-Star snubs: I can really care less about who makes the All-Star game, but John Danks and Gavin Floyd were certainly deserving from the AL's best pitching staff.

    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 the Sox are probably going to embarrass themselves while trying to get people to vote Jermaine Dye into the All-Star game.

    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 , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.

    Posted by Lou at 06:59 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    "In a 35-day stretch that ended Sunday on a steamy afternoon at Busch Stadium, the Cubs survived two West Coast trips, two City Series, a day trip from Toronto to Cooperstown to Tampa Bay, manager Lou Piniella's Tropicana Field homecoming and injuries to their ace, their leadoff man and their center fielder," Paul Sullivan writes in the Tribune today. "The only thing Piniella could do after the long, grueling stretch ended was lean back in his chair with a cold one and be thankful it was over."

    Tell us about it! We're exhausted!

    Just when it looked like the Cubs were world-beaters, that same old Cubbiness started to show. It reminded us here at The Cub Factor about the way the Cubs are like life's little activities.

    * Raking.

    * Taking a nice walk on the beach.

    * Walking in on your hot date in the men's room.

    * You were just about to get that big new route you wanted.

    * You get beaten to the last beer.

    * Someone else in your fantasy league pulls off a big move.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-3 this week splitting a four-game series against the Giants and taking two of three from the second-place Cardinals. If this season was a roller coaster this would be the part where you think your car might be going off the tracks. And you really aren't sure if it's part of the ride or a malfunction.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs close out the games before All-Star break with six at home against the Reds and Giants. If this was still a roller coaster ride, this would be the part that you look forward to.

    The Second Basemen Report: - Seven games this week started by three second basemen. Mike Fontenot led the way with four starts; Mark DeRosa had two, and Ronnie Cedeno had one. DeRosa also got one start in right and later moved to left, and three starts at third. Cedeno got one start at shortstop. Eric Patterson pinch hit twice. Former second baseman Alfonso Soriano managed to make the All-Star team from the DL as an outfielder despite his inability to play the outfield. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former Second baseman news, Tony Womack is currently a free agent. Tony advises that "if you're an infielder getting played in the outfield, you probably screwed up somewhere."

    The Zam Bomb: Pitch counts make the Big Z furious.

    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost in Translation: Mikey-o Fontonanto is Japanese for pocket dragon.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 65% sweet, 35% sour. Lou is down another four points on the Sweet-O-Meter due to more losing than he'd like. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou doesn't care that you made the Little League All-Star team, he wants some damn production.

    Center Stage: Jim Edmonds started six of seven games this week in center, including his homecoming in St. Louis. And the way he played, it kind of looked like he was still playing for them. Thanks, Jim.

    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 neither Soriano nor Fukudome deserves an All-Star bid.

    Over/Under: The number of Cubs that shouldn't have made the All-Star team that did: +/- 2.

    Mount Lou: Moves to level orange as an eruption could come at any moment. If things go bad early this week, villagers in the Wrigley area are warned to seek higher ground, like Schaumburg.

    mtlou_orange.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!


    Posted by Lou at 05:58 AM | Permalink

    I Shot the Band: Lady Tramaine Hawkins

    Band: Lady Tramaine Hawkins

    Song: "Changed"

    YouTube added date: July 6, 2008

    Shooter: Ladyglen50

    Locale: Gospel Fest, Millennium Park

    Video quality: Good

    Sound quality: Excellent. Very nice acoustics.

    Creativity: Not bad. Ladyglen50 has to do some quick panning at one point to keep up with Lady Tramaine as she scoots stage right.

    Difficulty: Medium. Outdoors park shots at crowded venues can present some challenges. The shakiness quotient is very good, probably only three of a possible 10 shakes. Also, nice framing.

    Overall Beachwood Shaky-Cam Rating: 8 (of 10)

    Comments: Lady Tramaine Hawkins was the June 1 closing night headliner at this year's Gospel Fest at Millennium Park, and she was a corker, judging by this YouTube video from Ladyglen50.

    Lady Tramaine really gets into a performance of one of her all-time power-gospel ballads, "Changed," on this amateur video, which is remarkable for its great sound quality. It's a pretty good document of what by all accounts seems like a magical wrap-up to three days of praise and powerful voices in the park.

    Just some trivia first about Tramaine Hawkins. The song "Changed" was from her early Light Records era, when she recorded two albums, Tramaine (1979) and Determined (1982), now considered to be all-time classics.

    She was one of the first black gospel artists to cross over in a big way to mainstream dance pop. She had a monster club hit in 1986 with "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)," a song that earned her a lot of money but also drew howls of protest from the gospel purists. Listening to it now, it does sound pretty darn secular, I have to say. But it was the '80s. I think everyone then was at least a little inappropriate in some way.

    But she soon got back into her great gospel groove with 1988's The Joy That Floods My Soul, and has been squarely in the heavenly light pretty much ever since then. One very interesting fact: She is so beloved as a pure embodiment of heavenly power that that she was asked to sing gospel at the funeral for Sammy Davis Jr., himself, babe.

    This also our first look at Millennium Park as a Chicago amateur band video venue, and I'm thinking it's going to rule the world of YouTube in that small way, if Ladyglen50 is any indication. There was only one lone upraised hand of praise that blocked the view during the whole song. Maybe the video sightlines there are good. Ladyglen also has posted a tasty I Shot the Band of Chaka Khan from last year's Taste of Chicago.

    Enjoy Lady Tramaine singing about the Lord's saving ways:

    -

    Previously in I Shot the Band:
    * Company of Thieves: At Welles Park covering OutKast.
    * Funhouse: At Kankakee County's famed fish fry.


    Posted by Don at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    July 05, 2008

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Have a safe weekend on the roads, but remember: you may need to plan a little extra time on the way back.

    Independence Day
    Congratulations, America! It's been 232 glorious years and, as long as we don't try to communicate with anyone or enjoy ourselves, we're still totally free!

    Market Update
    No need to worry over plunging stock markets, America. Our urge to consume still outpaces the rest of the world.

    Better Red Than Dead . . .
    It's not that we doubt President Bush's ability to retain his title in this year's Embarrassing World Leader Tournament. It's just that Thabo Mbeki's qualifying entry signals a powerful new force to reckon with.

    Going Green
    Note to China: this isn't exactly what we had in mind.

    Greener
    Meanwhile, the United States Olympic Committee announced it would contribute to environmental efforts by recycling former champions.

    Chicago 2016
    Not to be outdone by this year's hosts, Chicago has announced its totally preventable pre-games collapse is running right on schedule.

    Final Notes
    And in other news, duh.

    Posted by Natasha at 08:57 AM | Permalink

    July 04, 2008

    The [Fourth of July] Papers

    1. "Dear Miss Manners: Sometime this morning, a small vinyl American flag on a wood dowel was put on my lawn next to my driveway, and frankly I'm offended by the presumption of this anonymous person to express my national pride for me on my property.

    "I've looked at various Web sites for information on the proper display of the flag, and I can find no mention of the issue of displaying it on other people's property. I assume this is because it's out-of-the-question acceptable or out-of-the-question unacceptable.

    "Furthermore, I am also offended that I have been charged with dignified destruction of a flag that was clearly intended to be disposable. Could you please clarify these flag-etiquette issues?

    "Gentle Reader: Happy Independence Day to you too. How did the American flag come to be a weapon that loyal citizens brandish against one another?"

    2. Kids in America

    3. By J.J. Tindall.

    REGULATED MILITIA WELL

    after William Carlos Williams

    A well regulated Militia,
    being necessary

    to the security of a free State,
    the right of the people

    to keep and bear Arms,
    shall not be infringed.

    A WELL REGULATED MILITIA BEING NECESSARY
    WELL REGULATED MILITIA WELL REGULATED

    MILITIA
    being necessary

    the right of the people
    to a WELL REGULATED A WELL

    REGULATED MILITIA
    it tastes

    good
    to me it tastes

    good
    to me

    A WELL REGULATED
    MILITA BEING NECESSARY

    shall not be infringed shall not
    be

    infringed A WELL REGULATED
    MILITIA

    4. From the Beachwood vault.

    13 Anthems
    By Tim Willette and Natasha Julius

    *

    The Alphabetically-Spangled Banner
    Air and and and at
    banner bombs brave bright broad
    bursting by can dawn's does
    early fight flag free gallant-
    ly gave glare gleaming hailed
    home in land last light night
    o o o'er o'er of of
    our perilous proof proudly
    ramparts red rockets say
    say see so so stars star-
    spangled still streaming
    stripes that that the the the
    the the the the the the the
    the there through through
    twilight's was watched wave we
    we were what whose yet you

    *

    The Respangled Banner
    O say, red you see
    by the dawn's early white
    blue so proudly we hailed
    at the twilight's last greening
    whose broad plums and bright stars
    through the lavender fight
    o'er the purples we watched
    were so gallantly olive?
    and the hot pink red glare
    the bombs navy in air
    gave clear through the night
    that our flag was marooned
    o say, does cornflower teal
    salmon yellow
    orange tan aquamarine
    lemon goldenrod beige

    *

    The Star-Spangled Forecast
    O say can you sleet
    by the dawn's early rain
    what so cloudily we hailed
    at the twilight's tornado
    whose cold fronts and clear skies
    through the barometric fight
    o'er the jet stream's deep trough
    were so cumulonimbus
    and the hurricane's eye
    lightning high in the sky
    pea soup fog at night
    burning off by sunrise
    o say does that winter storm
    snow man yet wave
    o'er the east-coast flash flood
    and the drought-stricken plains

    *

    The Vertical Banner
    O what whose o'er and gave o o'er
    say, so broad the the proof say, the
    can proudly stripes ramparts rockets' through does land
    you we and we red the that of
    see, hailed bright watched, glare, night star- the
    by at stars, were the that spangled free
    the the through so bombs our banner and
    dawn's twilight's the gallantly bursting flag yet the
    early last perilous streaming? in was wave home
    light, gleaming? fight, air, still of
    there. the
    brave?

    *

    The Diagonally-Striped Banner
    Light,
    early gleaming?
    dawn's last fight,
    the twilight's perilous
    by the the streaming? air, there.
    see, at through gallantly in still brave?
    you hailed stars, so bursting was the
    can we bright were bombs flag wave of
    say, proudly and watched, the our yet home
    o so stripes we glare, that banner the
    what broad ramparts red night spangled and
    whose the rockets' the star-free
    o'er the through that the
    and proof does of
    gave say, land
    o the
    o'er

    *

    The National Anagram
    Whether a pig would alter her,
    the woolly ass might, say,
    veer off the last road
    to freedom, dress his horses
    and beat the straight-part hour.
    After that garage psalm prattle,
    all this winning gets is cloth
    mocking thought (be silent!)
    they cause death by yearning...
    Easy, babies, angels pant,
    we who drop, stutter, stagger for land,
    want to hover for hours where
    these meager rains go bubbling dry -
    we have no will to lead. Ready?

    *

    The Binary Banner
    011011110010000001110011011000010111100100101100001
    000000110001101100001011011100010000001111001011011
    110111010100100000011100110110010101100101001011000
    010000001100010011110010010000001110100011010000110
    010100100000011001000110000101110111011011100010011
    101110011001000000110010101100001011100100110110001
    111001001000000110110001101001011001110110100001110
    100001011000010000001110111011010000110000101110100
    001000000111001101101111001000000111000001110010011
    011110111010101100100011011000111100100100000011101
    110110010100100000011010000110000101101001011011000
    110010101100100001000000110000101110100001000000111
    010001101000011001010010000001110100011101110110100
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    110011001000000110110001100001011100110111010000100
    000011001110110110001100101011000010110110101101001
    011011100110011100111111001000000111011101101000011
    011110111001101100101001000000110001001110010011011
    110110000101100100001000000111001101110100011100100
    110100101110000011001010111001100100000011000010110
    111001100100001000000110001001110010011010010110011
    101101000011101000010000001110011011101000110000101
    110010011100110010110000100000011101000110100001110
    010011011110111010101100111011010000010000001110100
    011010000110010100100000011100000110010101110010011
    010010110110001101111011101010111001100100000011001
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    101011011001010111010001110011001001110010000001110
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    011100100110010100101100001000000111010001101000011
    001010010000001100010011011110110110101100010011100
    110010000001100010011101010111001001110011011101000
    110100101101110011001110010000001101001011011100010
    000001100001011010010111001000101100001000000110011
    101100001011101100110010100100000011100000111001001
    101111011011110110011000100000011101000110100001110
    010011011110111010101100111011010000010000001110100
    011010000110010100100000011011100110100101100111011
    010000111010000100000011101000110100001100001011101
    000010000001101111011101010111001000100000011001100
    110110001100001011001110010000001110111011000010111
    001100100000011100110111010001101001011011000110110
    000100000011101000110100001100101011100100110010100
    101110001000000110111100100000011100110110000101111
    001001011000010000001100100011011110110010101110011
    001000000111010001101000011000010111010000100000011
    100110111010001100001011100100010110101110011011100
    000110000101101110011001110110110001100101011001000
    010000001100010011000010110111001101110011001010111
    001000100000011110010110010101110100001000000111011
    101100001011101100110010100100000011011110010011101
    100101011100100010000001110100011010000110010100100
    000011011000110000101101110011001000010000001101111
    011001100010000001110100011010000110010100100000011
    001100111001001100101011001010010000001100001011011
    100110010000100000011101000110100001100101001000000
    110100001101111011011010110010100100000011011110110
    011000100000011101000110100001100101001000000110001
    00111001001100001011101100110010100111111

    *

    The Star-Spangled Mirror
    The brave of the home
    and the free of the land
    o'er yet wave banner
    star-spangled that say
    does o still there was our flag
    that the night through gave proof
    air bursting in bombs
    glare the red the rockets and
    gallantly streaming so watched were we
    the ramparts o'er perilous fight
    the stars through bright stripes
    and broad gleaming whose last
    the twilight's at we hailed proudly
    what so light dawn's early
    the see by you say can o

    *

    The Redacted Banner
    ---------------------------------s ear---light-
    what------------------------------------------------------
    whose------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------parts we watch--------------------stream----
    --------rock--------------------------------------air,
    ----------------------------------------ag wa--------------
    --say, do----------------------ban----yet-----
    ---------------------free---------hom---------br--e?

    *

    The Fortune Top 30 Banner
    IMB AIG
    Exxon-Mobil Chevron
    Wal-Mart Stores Citigroup
    GE ConocoPhillips
    JP Morgan Chase and Co.
    Kroger Hewlett-Packard
    Target Costco Wholesale
    Morgan Stanley Boeing
    AmerisourceBergen Ford
    Berkshire Hathaway Dell
    Verizon Communications
    P&G Marathon
    Altria Group Home Depot
    Valero Energy
    Bank of America GM
    McKesson Cardinal Health

    *

    The txt Banner
    o say can uc
    by da dawns early lite
    wha so prdly we haild
    @ da twilites last gleamin
    whose broad strps n brite stars
    thro da perilous fite
    or da ramparts we watchd
    were so gallantly streamin
    n da rockets red glare
    da bombs burstin in air
    gave proof thro da nite
    that r flag was still there
    o say do that star-spangld
    banr yet wave
    or da land of da free
    n da home of da brave

    *

    The Star-Spangled Bracket

    *

    The Encrypted Banner
    GLAPUPNLUFWHFBLGLVVTWEKTAERJPLHHGJLRL
    LOGJDUQRJAHIAVYIUSMTYWIWVRTKKUSYNWKWEE
    REXNTCSSVFBEBEUKMRZHTSNTOFUJGUGWKSKS
    KZGOHMSXKFPREMCGNSWAVHGUPVWIEENQGSKTK
    OEWNZNLHEWREIJGZACDPNGRJWWSENZMEYTNU
    LWEEUNOHUSERHXDTRVLWEOUXFVCUEFXZFZIE
    SXRTGGISSOBSXYJHUXZIHRTTKKUTUNXFMK
    FCSVWNYDXLMLGUIIWHSRQSORYELDUSGNVJH
    TNXDTDOGYRHSYRGARNXOVJIHRRLRGPF
    GUIWJXERFSTUKSSPFOSGLVTKAMW

    The Beachwood Tip Line: On your side.

    Posted by Lou at 07:49 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of The Week

    1. Christopher Hitchens has been called many things - turncoat, neocon, the world's 27th most important public intellectual - but none dare call him a pussy. Recently, Hitchens endured close to two minutes of waterboarding so that he could dispel any lingering doubts in the minds of Vanity Fair readers that the so-called interrogation technique is, indeed, torture.

    2. War, huh, what is it good for? Well, if you're Beirut entrepreneur Ali Hamoud, it provides you with a bold and completely tasteless premise for a theme restaurant called Buns and Guns.

    3. So thorough is her humiliation that not even I can pile on Christie Brinkley this week. So I'll do the next best thing and pile on The Today Show, which ran a 14-minute segment about the celebrity divorce while managing to decry "the hype and media frenzy."

    4. Equally ironic is the plight of the Los Alamos man who wanted to change his name from Variable to Fuck Censorship but was turned down by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Oddly enough, that would have been a big improvement over one of his previous names: Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon.

    5. Memo to George Soros: Now that Rush Limbaugh's been offered a $400 million contract for the next eight years, how about offering him $500 million not to broadcast his show?

    Posted by Lou at 07:09 AM | Permalink

    July 03, 2008

    The [Thursday] Papers

    1 The bad news: "Mike North Mulling 4 Offers To Stay In Town."

    And how many to leave?

    2. The good news: Steve Stone may move to the Sox TV booth.

    3. The bad news: Hawk Harrelson would still be there, so the broadcasts would still be unviewable.

    4. "United Hopes To Raise $1 Billion In Snack Sales."

    "Starting Aug. 1, passengers who get the midair munchies on select United Airlines flights will be able to buy chips, cookies, candy and trail mix, all for $3 apiece."

    So a bag of ten chips will cost you $30.

    "What will $3 get you? Jumbo-size snacks, weighing 4 to 5 ounces, that previously weren't available onboard the Chicago-based carrier's flights."

    Only in the American aviation system of 2008 are 4-ounce snacks considered "jumbo."

    "In addition, United raised the price of alcoholic beverages for passengers flying coach in the U.S. by $1, to $6, as of Tuesday."

    Okay, that hurts. If I'm going to pay $6 for a [crappy domestic] beer, I want to be watching at a baseball game with half-naked fans while drinking it.

    Here's an idea for United: Raise a billion dollars by providing stellar service.

    5. Ditto.

    6. "With the cutbacks . . . the Times will unify its print and Web staffs into a single editorial operation of more than 700 people under a single budget."

    Perhaps nothing says more about the stupidity of the newspaper industry than the fact that there was ever a separation between print and Web staff, except maybe that it's taken so long to resolve the split.

    7. "Twice, Rezko violated the home-confinement terms of his bail," the Sun-Times reports, "by making 'social calls' - including last September to the home of former top Cook County official Orlando Jones after Jones committed suicide."

    Paging Dan Burton!

    8. "HDO was never as much about Hispanic political empowerment as about which Hispanics would have the power," Mark Brown writes.

    9. "You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it 'simulates' the feeling of drowning," Christopher Hitchens writes. "This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning - or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The 'board' is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and - as you might expect - inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don't want to tell you how little time I lasted."

    *

    But he held up much better during the whiskeyboarding segment.

    - Tim Willette

    10. This is pretty cool. Look at the whole gallery.

    11. But it would be cooler to make human guitars.

    12. Memo to Eric Zorn and Ralph Martire: The reason we can't have an adult conversation about taxes in this city, county, state and country is because of the people we elect to spend them. Do you really want to give more of your money to Richie Daley and Todd Stroger so they can oil up their friends? To Rod the Reformer Blagojevich?

    I happen to believe in high-tax, high-service governmental entities. But you have to get what you pay for. In a state like Minnesota, you come a lot closer in terms of education, social services and so on. But paying taxes here is like paying protection money to the crime bosses. And that's why what's most paramount is electing honest officeholders - regardless of party affiliation.

    13. Also, the sales tax is regressive. It's all about the income tax and corporate giveaways. Don't go after consumers and small businesses.

    14. Here's an idea: Let's tax stupid ideas!

    15. Holiday Week Craigslist Roundup.

    16. CTA alert for the holiday weekend: Expect delays, derailments, fires.

    17. The first photo in this gallery appeared in today's Trib, demonstrating a lucrative new market for the Segway.

    Don't show the mayor!

    The last photo shows that Chinese officials are prepared to attack athletes who dare to finish in the wrong order.

    18. "June 23 was officially 'Olympic Day' in Chicago," Ben Joravsky writes. "Silly me, I thought every day was Olympic Day in the great city of Chicago."

    19. "Blagojevich's tax message: Vote Republican?"

    20. Barrett and Pierzynski at it again.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Free snacks, stellar service.

    Posted by Lou at 09:56 AM | Permalink

    July 02, 2008

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    "There is every indication that Todd Stroger, miraculously installed by ward bosses following his father's illness, will run for a second term in 2010," Carol Marin writes this morning.

    "There is every reason to believe that Mayor Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan are already helping him lay the groundwork, raise the cash and turn out the vote."

    Just so we're clear about who's to blame.

    Two Americas
    "It's hard to distinguish between people from the suburbs and the city at the Taste. But you can sometimes tell if they live further out west."
    - John Trick, the city's Taste of Chicago guru

    Coffee Klatsch
    "Starbucks Closing 600 Stores."

    And that's just in Chicago.

    DUH
    This may look like a cute story, but I think LG just got its money's worth in publicity by sponsoring the "National Texting Championship."

    "Megan has had to adjust to texting on a new phone - the LG enV2 she was awarded as the Chicago regional champion and that she'll have to use in New York in a week," the Sun-Times reports via the Naperville Sun - because let's face it, they're the same thing these days.

    Poor Megan. Just 14 and already a pawn in The Man's game.

    More Change, Less Hope
    "Barack Obama yesterday landed a right hook on one of his biggest left-wing supporters yesterday - blasting MoveOn.org for labeling Gen. David Petraeus 'General Betray Us,'" the New York Post reports.

    [I am excerpting from the Post only because I happened to pick it up at the 7/11 yesterday. But this report is still true, I assure you!]

    "Obama, in a patriotism speech in Independence, Mo., hit the Web site for taking out an ad in The New York Times last year that targeted Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq.

    "While not naming names, the Democratic presidential candidate - who had been heavily supported by the Web site in his primary race - said, 'A general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal. We can no longer afford these sorts of divisions.'"

    No, not that the primary is over now.

    "Many of Obama's Senate colleagues already felt the same way - and had expressed their anger at the ad back in September, when they voted to 'strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of' Petraeus.

    "Obama skipped the vote."

    *

    By the way, the Post's nickname for Obama is "Bam."

    Deflation
    Just to give you an idea about how the liberal netroots is feeling about Obama these days - because your local papers are not tuned in to the national political conversation - after so aggressively pushing his campaign in the primary, Kos has put his checkbook away.

    "So many of you are upset that I pulled back my credit card last night, making a last minute decision to hold back on a $2,300 contribution to Obama. Let me explain further:

    "First of all, obviously Obama is a great candidate who is running a great 50-state race. That much cannot be denied. But he's had a rough couple of weeks.

    "First, he reversed course and capitulated on FISA, not just turning back on the Constitution, but on the whole concept of 'leadership'. Personally, I like to see presidents who 1) lead, and 2) uphold their promises to protect the Constitution.

    "Then, he took his not-so-veiled swipe at MoveOn in his 'patriotism' speech.

    "Finally, he reinforced right-wing and media talking points that Wes Clark had somehow impugned McCain's military service when, in reality, Clark had done no such thing."

    Kos goes on to describe Obama as a cowering calculator.

    The Real World
    "[T]he signs that Obama was anything but a committed progressive reformer have been there for all to see, but a group blindness somehow developed in the blogosphere and comparable real-world circles - wishful thinking that can perhaps best be described as the 'Forer Effect,' where Obama mastered the art of saying something for everyone (and, ultimately, nothing at all)."

    - Open Letter to Salon's Glenn Greenwald from VastLeft

    Talking Points
    "Sometimes when I keep on an issue like the Clark/McCain brouhaha, readers will write in and say things like, 'It's a losing issue.' 'Drop it.' 'It isn't helping Obama.' And so forth. But that's not our issue," Josh Marshall writes at Talking Points Memo.

    Tell me about it! I'm not a Democrat (nor a Republican) and my job isn't to help Obama. That's Eric Zorn's job. My job is to parse through the bullshit and point you to reported truths.

    If you click on the link to Marshall's post, you'll find one. The Wes Clark controversy was just the latest manufactured piece of baloney. If you look at the line of questioning, Clark hardly impugned John McCain's military service.

    But then, the Obama campaign is quite familiar with clipping quotes and running to media enablers to express their faux outrage.

    Tim Time
    Just catching up with this, from the New York Times:

    "Mr. Russert's own death provided an object lesson in how much things have changed. More than an hour before his death was announced by Tom Brokaw on NBC, his Wikipedia page was edited to reflect that he had just died."

    Try To Deny It
    Let's leave on a high note.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Cherry red.

    Posted by Lou at 09:32 AM | Permalink

    Gravel: I'm With Jesse

    Dear friend,

    I am writing you today in the hope that you will support Jesse Johnson for the Green Party presidential nomination. The party's convention is in two weeks, and Jesse needs your help.

    I feel deeply in my heart that if we truly want to empower the people, end illegal and immoral wars, provide health care for all Americans, and fight global warming, we must do more than just work together with other voices. We're going to have to make a commitment to support them.

    Let me tell you why I'm with Jesse.

    The foundation of Jesse's political aspirations began with a desire to stop the environmental plundering of his home state, West Virginia, by corporate interests at the expense of the people. Since then, Jesse has expanded his policies to include providing education and quality health care to all Americans by reining in the military-industrial complex. These are goals we should all support.

    We've seen the havoc the two major parties can wreak on a global scale by locking out other voices, third-party voices. Both parties support war and American imperialism, which distract us from focusing not only on our domestic well-being, but also the world's well-being. I want to lend my support to those voices that are committed to saving our country from our own shortsighted, greedy actions. Clinging to power for the sake of power benefits no one. We must have a voice in the political realm speaking earnestly and intelligently about all of our needs. Jesse and the Green Party have that credibility.

    Please join me today in supporting Jesse Johnson for president by making a donation on his web site. You can also send a contribution via mail to the Committee to Elect Jesse Johnson, P.O. Box 893, Charleston, W.V. 25323.

    Remember: We're all in this together. Let's help voices like Jesse's be heard.

    Sincerely,

    Mike Gravel

    Posted by Lou at 07:53 AM | Permalink

    Dot XXX

    Eminent Internet Domain

    New York - ICANN approved a recommendation that could see many new names introduced to the Internet's addressing system. Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media is available to discuss.

    Presently, users have a range of 21 top-level domains to choose from (e.g., .com and .org). According to a news report, when Dr Paul Twomey, President of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), was asked about the .XXX domain name that ICANN rejected in March 2007, he stated that the new system would be "open to anyone."

    According to a statement published on the www.icann.org website, "offensive names will be subject to an objection-based process based on public morality and order . . . ICANN will not be the decision maker on these objections."

    "If a .XXX domain is destined to come into existence, perhaps it is better that it be just one of countless new domains, than one of the very few officially authorized by ICANN.

    XXX.jpg"The same objections to the .XXX domain proposal that failed to gain entrance through ICANN's 'front door' (by being officially approved by ICANN) would, of course, also apply to a .XXX domain launched through ICANN's new 'back door,' where ICANN would see no evil whatsoever.

    "First, unlike zoning of 'adult uses' in real space, pornographers in cyberspace will not be required to use the new .XXX domain, and many (most) won't. Others will use the new domain, but will also retain their current .com domain. If anything, there will be more porn websites.

    "Second, websites that use the .xxx domain will not be required to implement an age verification system. The domain will provide protection for children only to the extent that parents utilize filtering technology; and for various reasons many parents won't use it. Furthermore, filters at home cannot protect children outside the home, and tech savvy kids can circumvent filters.

    "Third, the .XXX domain will not protect children from sexual predators who use 'adult porn' (i.e., no actual minors depicted) to arouse themselves and to arouse, desensitize and instruct their child victims.

    Fourth, the .XXX domain will not protect society from hardcore pornography. As the U.S. Supreme Court observed in an obscenity case, there are legitimate governmental interests at stake in stemming the tide of obscene materials 'even assuming it is feasible to enforce effective safeguards against exposure to juveniles and to passersby,'which include maintaining 'a decent society' and protecting 'public safety,' 'family life,' and the 'total community environment.'

    "Fifth, the .XXX domain would become one more excuse to not enforce federal Internet obscenity laws, just as the zoning of 'adult businesses' in real space is now used as an excuse by some state investigators and prosecutors to not enforce state obscenity laws.

    "If ICANN eventually approves the final version of the domain name expansion plan, organizations that opposed the original .XXX domain proposal can be expected to urge the international arbitration body to reject this domain on 'public morality and order grounds.' The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that government can suppress obscene materials to 'protect the social interest in order and morality.'

    "If the .XXX domain is eventually launched through ICANN's back door, what will be promoted are websites offering hardcore pornographic materials that depict, among other things: pseudo child porn, gang bangs, group sex, unsafe sex, sex with barely legal teens, sex with siblings, sex with the neighbors' wives, sex with prostitutes, sex with she-males, sex with animals, sex with excrement, male-on-male rape, and the degradation, rape, torture and murder of women.

    "I would also point out that for years the Motion Picture Association of America used the 'X-rating' for films that were unsuitable for children but presumably legal for adults. Pornographers picked up on that and used the 'X' rating, usually by adding an X or two (as in 'XX' and 'XXX') to signify ever more graphic and perverse (but still, the pornographers claimed and still claim, legal) forms of pornography.

    "On a related matter, one wonders whether the .ho name will pass the arbitration panel's public morality and order test and if so, whether it will be awarded to a rapper, radio shock jock, prostitute, or pimp."

    ABOUT ROBERT PETER
    Robert Peter 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 07:33 AM | Permalink

    Inflight Radio: United

    What United Airlines is currently offering, ripped from the pages of Hemispheres.

    *

    Channel 2: 20 on 20
    Description: What's hot, right now.
    Who You'll Hear: Justin Timberlake, Fergie.

    *

    Channel 3: BPM
    Description: Pure, mainstream dance music.
    Who You'll Hear: Madonna, Ferry Corsten.

    *

    Channel 4: Bluesville
    Description: Blues music of the past and present.
    Who You'll Hear: B.B. King, Buddy Guy.

    *

    Channel 5: XM Pops
    Description: Classical music for everyone.
    Who You'll Hear: Beethoven, Mozart.

    *

    Channel 6: Caliente
    Description: Tropical music.
    Who You'll Hear: Marc Anthony, El Gran Combo.

    *

    Channel 8: Highway 16
    Description: Home of today's country hits.
    Who You'll Hear: Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban.

    *

    Channel 9: From the Flight Deck
    Description: Live communication between the flight deck and FAA traffic control.
    Who You'll Hear: Pilots, air traffic controllers.

    *

    Channel 11: Lucy
    Description: A history of '90s alternative music.
    Who You'll Hear: Pearl Jam, Nirvana.

    *

    Channel 12: Real Jazz
    Description: Straight-ahead jazz, including classics.
    Who You'll Hear: Miles Davis, Duke Ellington.

    *

    Channel 13: Audio Visions
    Description: Peace in a sometimes crazy world.
    Who You'll Hear: Enya, Tangerine Dream.

    *

    Channel 14: XM Kids
    Description: Music for kids and families.
    Who You'll Hear: The Wiggles, Dan Zanes.

    *

    Channel 15: The '70s
    Description: Music from the era of bell bottoms.
    Who You'll Hear: Elton John, Bee Gees.

    *

    Channel 16: XM Exclusives
    Description: XM's Baseball Confidential series.
    Who You'll Hear: Derek Jeter, Tony Gwynn.

    -

    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 07:13 AM | Permalink

    July 01, 2008

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "A Japan-bound commercial airliner landed safely at O'Hare International Airport Monday afternoon after one of its engines malfunctioned over the northwest suburbs - but not before it had to dump about 4 percent of its total fuel load over Lake Michigan in order to land," the Tribune reports.

    "To make the half-million-pound jetliner, which carried 189 passengers, light enough to land safely, the pilot swung over the lake and dumped about 1,450 gallons of jet fuel. Only a miniscule portion of that made it to the water, which officials said remains safe for drinking and swimming."

    So what happened to the rest?

    "When fuel is dumped above 5,000 feet, in temperatures above freezing, about 98 percent of it can be expected to evaporate before hitting the ground, Isham Cory said. In this case, that would leave about 32 gallons, all of it in widely dispersed fuel droplets."

    Pander Bear
    "Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans that would expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and - in a move sure to cause controversy - support their ability to hire and fire based on faith," the AP reports.

    Wait, which candidate is running for Bush's third term again?

    The Boss' Blessing
    "A few weeks ago, Alejandro Escovedo [of Chicago's Bloodshot Records] found himself on stage in a Houston arena rocking one of his new tunes, 'Always a Friend,' with a pretty decent backing group: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. A You Tube video circulated soon after shows Springsteen throwing himself into the chorus while Escovedo grins like a kid who's just been told school's getting out a month earlier than usual," Greg Kot reports.

    [CLARIFICATION: A Beachwood reader says "For the sake of clarity, Alejandro Escovedo has recorded for Chicago's Bloodshot, but is currently property of EMI/Capitol."]

    The Trib doesn't give you the video - not even a link - but I will:

    "'I shook his hand for the first time ever a few hours before the show," says Escovedo of Springsteen, the hook-up brokered by their mutual manager, Jon Landau. 'We sat in his dressing room and ran down the song acoustically with the band. Later, before I went on stage, I was scared to death. But about halfway though [the song], the fear started to melt away and I just had the time of my life. I told everyone it's like dropping into a 30-foot wave: You've got to go for it, and I did not want to die in front of 18,000 people.'"

    As noted by Kot, Escovedo plays the Taste of Chicago on Friday at 3 p.m. with Gomez and the Old 97's at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park.

    McWrigley
    Former Cubs president Andy MacPhail was a skinflint whose tenure here was a failure, but his sense of propriety helped keep Wrigley Field out of the hands of the barbarians while he was here; he once vowed he would never allow the famous red brick behind home plate to be marred with advertising.

    "I wasn't wild about the advertising on the outfield walls and advertising on the tarps and stuff like that," he recalled last week. "There are a lot of things here I was reluctant to do but they moved on and I'm not so sure I wasn't wrong . . . The world didn't stop, they just moved on and they gave them more resources and obviously they've got a different plan in their immediate future."

    Now every inch of Wrigley is for sale. Wrigley Field as we once knew it is over, folks. And so is the magical phenomenon of the Cubs, strangled by its corporate minders and jumping over sharks.

    Baking Cookies
    * "Grandmother Proud To Have Lived Long Enough To see First Viable Female Candidate Torn Apart."

    * "Michelle's Homemaker Side."

    Less Is More
    "Kevin Nance, the Chicago Sun-Times art critic who also served as the newspaper's architecture critic, will leave the Sun-Times on July 10 and will join the fast-growing Chicago firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture as director of publications," Blair Kamin reports.

    The Sun-Times will conduct a national search in order to bring the best replacement possible to the paper to serve one of the world's preeminent architecture cities. In an alternate universe. In this one, look for Lew Lazare and Bill Zwecker to share the beat in their spare time.

    Wild Thing
    Our very own Marty Gangler is the Fan of the Week at Just One Bad Century.

    The Beachwood Tip Line: In your head.

    Posted by Lou at 09:19 AM | Permalink

    O'Reilly Rules

    A Fox News ad in Ad Age notes Bill O'Reilly's dominance of the 8 p.m. (Eastern) time slot among cable news channels by reciting competitors that have come and gone from CNN and MSNBC while The O'Reilly Factor has stuck at No. 1 in the ratings for 90 consecutive months. Here is the list.

    CNN:

    * Newsstand

    * The Point

    * Live From . . .

    * CNN Election Center

    * Live From The Headlines

    * Connie Chung Tonight

    * Wolf Blitzer Reports

    * Prime News

    * The World Today

    * Paula Zahn Now

    * CNN Election Center

    MSNBC:

    * McLaughlin Special Report

    * Hardball With Chris Matthews

    * Hockenberry

    * Crime Files

    * Time & Again

    * Equal Time

    * MSNBC Investigates

    * Donahue

    * Special Edition

    * The News With Brian Williams

    * The Big Show

    * Countdown With Keith Olbermann

    Posted by Lou at 07:22 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    I never understood why baseball teams have such trouble playing on the road. It's one thing in football, where crowd noise can affect communication at the line of scrimmage. But in baseball, the crowd cheers at the same time anyways, right? Just pretend they're rooting you on!

    Whatever. As was evident this past week, both stellar baseball teams in this city can't seem to figure out this road thing just yet. The Cubs and White Sox are both juggernauts at home; back-to-back sweeps really aren't all that surprising.

    I was in attendance for Game 3 on Sunday, so here are some observations from sky high in the upper deck.

    * The best moment of the game, and possibly my life: I don't remember which player was up to bat or even what inning it was (let's say around the third), but a Cubs batter hit a rocket, the type of shot Hawk Harrelson would have described as "right size, wrong shape". That is to say, the ball had home run distance but was clearly foul. So the crowd does a collective "sigh/whew" but two Cubs fans in front of my start going crazy, celebrating the home run. They're cheering, jumping up and down, slapping hands, the whole bit.

    Naturally this caused an uproar of laughter from the White Sox contingent in my section for at least a minute. As soon as it died down and things got real quiet, someone said "If that's they do after a foul ball, I hope they don't start making out after a hit!" Good times.

    * There were some good creative signs at the game- though nothing topped the epic MARIOTTI LOVES COCK sign I saw at a Sox game earlier this year (I don't know what I love most about it, the irrelevance or the vulgarity). The best sign from Game 3 read: Obama, McCain, Alexei with a giant check mark next to his name. Of course Alexei isn't over 35 and was born in Cuba so it's impossible, but come on, it would be pretty sweet.

    * The incompetence of the CTA has been a big issue in the city lately, as we here at Beachwood have chronicled. I took the Red Line with two friends from Roosevelt to the game, and it was insane. People were literally crammed like sardines into every car, and I'd say ours was at least 30 or 40 people over capacity. As soon everyone was positioned and the train took off, I yelled "Oh man, I think I'm gonna puke!" to the delightment of no one besides for myself.

    -

    Week in Review: A dominant, 5-1 week for the Sox. While sweeping the Cubbies is always fun, it's almost more impressive that they were able to sneak by super-prospect Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. With a name as cool as Clayton Kershaw, I don't think that kid can fail.

    Week in Preview: Three against Cleveland and four against Oakland. I have a good feeling about this Indians series, mainly because we're running this column a day late this week and the Sox already clubbed the Indians Monday night. While we're here, and I've never seen anyone raise this point: Travis Hafner was clearly on steroids, right? The guy was a beast, but the last two years he's fallen off the face of the Earth. Funny how those things happen after the MLB starts testing.

    Fields on the Farm: A .251/.327/.474 line from Fields isn't all that impressive in AAA. If the Sox continue to win, I think there is a good chance fan favorite Joe Crede is re-signed. It is worth noting that Crede uncharacteristically leads all third basemen with 16 errors.

    The Missile Tracker: If we stole Marty's bit of comparing Sox guys to characters from Happy Days, Alexei would clearly be Arthur Fonzarelli. It's a little known fact that Ramirez actually got to this country to waterskiing around sharks, so, I mean, that pretty much clinches it.

    Eat it Cubs fans: "God likes the Sox too."

    Over/Under: 3.0 - The projected season ERA for 22-year old Sox starter John Danks. For those who haven't been paying attention, Danks has quietly become the ace of the Sox' staff. He's got a 1999 Pedro Martinez-like 2.6 ERA so far.

    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 someone really needs to get the Nick Swisher-Orlando Cabrera handshake on YouTube.

    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 , a contributor to the Sun-Times's Full Court Press and a lot of other things.


    Posted by Lou at 06:41 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - Smells like tech spirit.
    TV - It's A So-Called Wonderful Life.
    POLITICS - Inside Obama's internal report.
    SPORTS - Down the Bears memory hole.

    BOOKS - Beachwood's best books of the year.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Australia 2008 in Review.

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