"People all over the country are fighting for what little green space is left, some of them trying to maintain a mere view of nature."
Last week's cover story, "Rookie of the Century?" by Ted Cox, said that Geovany Soto would be the first rookie to be the primary starting catcher for a World Series winner—should the Cubs manage to pull it off. In fact Andy Etchebarren debuted with the Baltimore Orioles in 1962 and did another brief stint with the team in 1965, but he was still technically a rookie when the Orioles won the World Series in 1966.
Parks and Recreation
Re "The Urge to Weigh In" by Michael Miner, Hot Type, June 19
As the Illinois Supreme Court cases recognize, a museum is not analogous to a field house or parking garage, both of which are necessary components of a park's recreational purpose. People need to be able to get to the park and the park needs some structures like field houses to facilitate recreation. A museum has nothing to do with the park's purpose of recreation.
Moreover, the current underutilization of that portion of the park does not support the argument to place a museum there. That argument sets up a false either/or straw man. Clearly that portion could be better developed for traditional park purposes rather than a museum. That argument also would create a dangerous incentive. If all the mayor had to do to ignore the "open free and clear" was to let an area of the park get run down, it would be a simple matter to strategically abandon any areas in the sights of the Pritzkers or whoever else coveted a portion of the park.
When I was a teen soccer player, we got to use mainly muddy fields, potholed fields, and the occasional field under an inch of water. I like to think it made us play better when we got out to the burbs and their perfectly manicured lawns. We never did get used to those burns from sliding on artificial turf, though.
The arguments about where to site Latin School's soccer field and the new Chicago Children's Museum (which my family won't be joining if it pigheadedly sticks to its plan for a crypt) are a few screws loose each.
If Latin has so much money at its disposal, why can't they be bothered to get a field somewhere further out and bus the kids there and back?
If artificial turf is so great, why are reports coming in that the dust from worn-down "blades" is bad for kids to be exposed to and especially to inhale? So Latin's field would have brand-new fake grass, big deal. Everything wears down over time, and whose responsibility will it be to clean up the resulting health hazard?
"The Children's Museum is for the city's kids." Great. Now can any of its proponents explain why it has to be put in a park at all? People all over the country are fighting for what little green space is left, some of them trying to maintain a mere view of nature. The museum can easily afford to put their new place near a CTA stop, where it doesn't compromise an existing park, on any of the thousands of large vacant spots. If it located this way, which is to say, if it located well, its presence could breathe new life into a less-than-ideal area, and be a shining example of the true vision of urban renewal.
Master Gardener, Master Food Preserver, TreeKeeper #467
Billy Boy on Bo Diddley
Re "The Secret History of Chicago Music" by Plastic Crimewave, June 19
Bo Diddley floated a lot of different versions of where his name came from over the course of his life, but the most convincing story I've heard comes from harpist Billy Boy Arnold, who played in Bo's early street band when Bo was still going by his birth name of Ellas McDaniel and was also on some of Bo's earliest recordings.
Arnold remembered that there used to be a comedian called Bo Diddley who performed at the "Midnight Rambles" at the old Indiana Theater. (Jody Williams, who played guitar in that same band with Bo and Billy Boy, remembered the comedian as part of a trio called Bo Diddley, Coal Dust, and Ash.) He said that one day they were all performing on the street and the guy walked by; Billy Boy said, "Hey Ellas—there goes Bo Diddley!" He said Ellas thought that the name was about the funniest thing he'd ever heard.
Later, in the Chess studio, when the band was working on a song based on the old "Hambone" folk rhythm, Billy Boy suggested that Ellas stick that funny name into the lyrics. He did so, and the song ended up being called "Bo Diddley." Arnold also claims that the singer was also named "Bo Diddley" on the record, to everyone's surprise. The rest, of course, is history.
Arnold has told this story several times over the years. Most recently, he repeated it on a panel I moderated at the "Blues and the Spirit" symposium at Dominican University a few weeks ago.
Sign of the New Timeses?
Re "Remember the Alamo?" by Michael Miner, Hot Type, June 5
It's looking like the Tribune has been bought by a man who hates newspapers.
While I've always admired [Rick] Kogan and his work, he should realize that in the new world, it's about the "story" more than the "word." There are great stories out there that can be better told through other means —like video—and journalists need to be aware that words are now just one tool in their storytelling palette. Specialization is a thing of the past, so good journalists must learn how to use words, video, still images, and illustrations to effectively tell the story in an informative and compelling way.
Also, the new bosses at TribCo may be a bit off-kilter, but you've got to give them credit for shaking off the moss that has enveloped the Tower. Frankly, they're doing their job of sparking discussion and debate among the staff, and hopefully through that the Trib will find a way to survive and thrive.
Frankly, I think the entire newspaper industry could use a few more Sam Zells to pull its head out of the sand and realize they must change and adapt with demands of the new readers.
It would be one thing if these kooky, high-paid, comfortable radio guys were dropping Mel Brooks-inspired memos on a staff of underworked, comfortable journalists. Problem is, many are just scraping by, working tails off, and likely face (more) layoffs if the experiments fail to pay the debts our grave-dancing CEO has loaded on this company. We are like exhausted firefighters aiming the hose at a raging blaze while trying to appease the new assistant fire chief with big hair and a sweater who says, "Why not try aiming AWAY from the fire instead of at it?"
Trib KoolAid drinker
I find these memos refreshing and new, and an indication that someone is looking to make newspapers survive and not just wither away. Okay, some are a little nutty, but you don't have to accept all of the ideas. Some are good, some are bad, but at least they are ideas that newspapers didn't encourage in the good old days of 20 percent-plus profit margins. Hey, in case you didn't notice, those days are gone. If you don't like to change, then move on and turn your desk over to someone who wants to make newspapers work again.
Obama and Daley
Re "Is Obama a Chicago Politician?" by Ben Joravsky, the Works, June 12
Obama will be linked to not only Daley, but all the power players (money) that have funded this incarnation of JFK "light." He will not be able to hide the facts, and the corruption that Daley calls progress will come to light and those anchors such as Rezko will sink him to the bottom of the Chicago River.
you all are delusional if you think Obama is going down due to an association with Daley—Chicago corruption is so complex that nobody outside of cook county understands it, much less voters a thousand miles away. most people around the country don't either know or care to know about Daley's bad side, they just see millennium park and go "oooh, he revitalized the City!"
this is of course why Daley built it in the first place. it is beautiful, but more importantly, it's a distraction from the crumbling infrastructure, schools, etc.
Preservation or Theft?
Re "Who Owns Antiquity?" by Deanna Isaacs, the Business, June 5
[James] Cuno is a defender of the so-called "universal museums," now called "encyclopedic museums" and perhaps more correctly, imperialistic or totalitarian museums. The museum that never has enough of anything and seeks a total control of all cultural objects by all means, including the use of force by the army of the country where the museum is situated—Louvre, British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
These museums now lament the end of the imperialistic and colonial period in which they amassed most of their stock. This was the period when the Europeans could take virtually from any country whatever cultural object they desired. That period is, mercifully, at an end and Cuno and co. are agitating for the return to that system, so-called partage system which enabled the Europeans to take away massive archaeological objects from countries like Egypt. Cuno labels those who seek the return of the stolen cultural objects as nationalists but what about those who fight to keep the objects in the museums of the West, are they internationalists or what?
This new book does not advance in any way the debate about the restitution of cultural objects. On the contrary it will only help to solidify the known positions. That leading museum directors do not understand the desire of Africans and Asians to recover their stolen cultural objects is a sad commentary on the cultural landscape of the world. The perspective would have appeared better without the addition of this book which will only serve as additional object for heated controversies and it comes from a museum director of one of the leading museums of the Western world.
Foie Gras for Fido
Chicagoans, something's gone terribly awry with this picture: Thanks to a recent city council vote (along with mayoral support), some of us (who can afford it) now get to take our dogs along to participating tony restaurants around town to have them dine with us alfresco. While, not very long ago, this same hoary band of city officials repealed the law that opposed the commerce-wide torture of ducks and geese and the ingesting of their livers at some of these same fancy eating establishments (now allowing us to share some of that foie gras with Fido, if we wish)!
Now, Mayor Daley, I'm really, really confused here. Which is the more "frivolous" ordinance having taken up precious city council time? Trying to prevent cruelty to animals, or promoting doggie dining?
Animal lover with a bone to pick!