Recycling Week

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baseball prediction update

Posted By on 09.29.12 at 02:00 PM

Paul Konerkos midseason beaning at the hands of the Cubs Jeff Samardzija: an omen of what was to come.
  • Paul Boucher
  • Paul Konerko's midseason beaning at the hands of the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija: an omen of what was to come.
A lot is riding on the last week of the White Sox's season—most of all the pride I can take in my season-opening predictions.

Kind of like the Sox themselves, I was flying high for a while only to see my pursuit of the Golden BAT go up in smoke of late.

In the National League, I picked the San Francisco Giants to win the West. Then, I can boast that I picked the Washington Nationals to make the playoffs—although not even I was bold enough to say they'd win the East—and had them in one of the two expanded wild-card slots. Otherwise, though, I had the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central and the Los Angeles Dodgers as the other wild card. I never imagined Dusty Baker wouldn't find a way to screw up the Cincinnati Reds in the Central, and I never expected the Atlanta Braves to right themselves from last year's collapse to make the playoffs. So give me credit for two playoff teams, one in the right position, and I have the Giants to win the pennant, so I'm still alive for the bigger prize.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Nope, Punk is still not punk

Posted By on 09.28.12 at 09:36 AM

Colorado Springs is definitely not punk
  • Colorado Springs is definitely not punk
As Miles Raymer explains in his smart Bleader post "Punk isn't quite punk," navigating punk before the Internet was something of a vision quest. It basically consisted of blindly diving into an already dodgy culture and building from whatever limited resources your small town or obscure suburb had to offer. He writes, "You might have some zines if you were lucky, or get tips and mix tapes from an older punk if you were very lucky, but more likely you'd have to settle for things like making note of the band shirts that the cooler members of Guns n' Roses wore in videos and photo shoots, or just blindly buying records that looked even vaguely 'punk.'"

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Pathos in a shit storm

Posted By on 09.28.12 at 06:41 AM

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Brown and Gray)
  • Mark Rothko, "Untitled (Brown and Gray)"
In the midst of shipping off from our well-worn quarters to the shiny Sun-Times building back in August, many of us took Moving Week literally, chronicling packing up shop, staying put, moving or not moving, as the case may be. Reader film critic Ben Sachs gave the theme a different take, writing about an autistic and severely retarded man he cared for through the direst of circumstances. Can misery, fear, and impacted feces be moving? In the hands of Sachs, yes.

Working with Daryl one-on-one required that I approach experience on his terms—autism has a way of transforming everything it touches—and they were fascinating terms indeed. Like many people deeply affected by autism, Daryl had echolalia. This meant he would often repeat the last word he heard or else vocalize nonsense sounds for the palliative effect. If no one engaged him directly, he was perfectly content to sit in a corner, playing with his fingers and enjoying the sound of his gibberish. Some sounds had developed, over the course of his life, into private mantras, and I became familiar with them all. The most common went something like: "Par-ee-ah shee-ah poor . . . pie . . . shocko pie, shocko pie . . . koat pie . . ."

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Regrets, I've had TKHOWMANY

Posted By on 09.27.12 at 06:00 PM

  • Oooooops
While we spend the week revisiting past glories on the Bleader, I want to look back on the most shameful thing that was not my fault (as opposed to the most shameful thing that was my fault—a different matter entirely, and once it's identified I'll be sure to atone) that I've endured this year. It was on the occasion of the Reader's inaugural Valentine's Day issue, which a couple of coworkers and I were tasked (against our will) with putting together. When the thing was nearing completion I volunteered to write the introduction, seeing in it a chance to express myself the best way I knew how—with a minimum of tact, a maximum of vulgarity, and a lot of adjectives. I felt pretty good about this. You can read it here, if you'd like. The thing was sent to press and when I got to the office the next morning I looked at a PDF of the intro to see how it was laid out—very nicely, except that in the last paragraph, where I'd detailed all the different components of the V-Day issue, and attempted to refer readers to specific pages, there were no fewer than seven TKs in place of the page numbers. TK is editorial shorthand for "to come"—text symbolizing something that ideally will have been inserted into the piece before it's sent to the printer. Something that you, the reader, are generally not supposed to see when you open your newspaper.

I was having a pretty lousy Valentine's season anyhow.

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Revisiting working hard and playing hard, but not "work hard, play hard"

Posted By on 09.27.12 at 10:36 AM

"I was raised on the feminist ideal that I, too, could be a metaphorical rock star, not just a rock star's girlfriend," Andrea Bauer wrote in July. "By the time I was 25, I subscribed to this ideology with all of my heart, so much in fact that the mere mention of 'babies' and 'suburbs' had me bowing down to the gods of no-fault divorce and riding directly off into Chicago's seedy underground to further my career as a photographer."

Here at the Reader, we're sure glad she did. Bauer's our photo editor now, and also a fine writer. For both its crisp style and its thought-provoking substance, her July essay on the Bleader merits reading or rereading. Here it is.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Have the NFL and referees finally come to an agreement?

Posted By on 09.26.12 at 02:26 PM

New NFL replacement refs
  • John Storr
  • New NFL replacement refs
Not necessarily.

"The league and referees have agreed to create a developmental program as a compromise to the NFL's demand for the addition of 21 officials to the current contingent of 121 NFLRA members, per an NFLRA source."

Exciting, that.

Ted Cox wrote on the Bleader on September 7:

Back on the field, the NFL is courting a potential disaster, and the other major sports can yuk it up at its expense, but there are larger ramifications. As Cubs TV color analyst Bob Brenly is fond of pointing out, we're approaching the point where computer video can absolutely determine a ball or strike far better than the human eye can. Why not call all the on-field officials home and leave everything to the eyes in the sky we're all seeing?

On Monday, a "potential disaster" happened.

Ted toldja so.

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Chicago Gourmet: a look back

Posted By on 09.26.12 at 06:48 AM

The hordes at Chicago Gourmet 2008
  • The lines at Chicago Gourmet 2008
This year is the fifth anniversary of Chicago Gourmet, the upscale alternative to Taste of Chicago that's supposed to put Chicago on the map as a culinary destination. Time really flies—it seems like just yesterday that I was wandering around first the Pritzker Pavilion rooftop, then Millennium Park, desperately searching for edibles at the much-anticipated and generally disastrous first Chicago Gourmet. In honor of Recycling Week on the blog, here's the first paragraph of my recap of the event (which wasn't exactly glowing):

This past weekend's Chicago Gourmet event must already be the most-blogged local food event of the year, with the Stew and Gapers Block averaging about a dozen posts apiece, and several other sites not far behind. So far, though, nothing I've come across has used to word "clusterfuck" to describe the event. Which is strange, because it's been running through my head all weekend.

The event has improved dramatically in the years since, though. The second year was actually my favorite: taking heed of the problems from the year before, organizers made sure there was plenty of food, and lines were short. In 2010, the third year, attendance went up by 25 percent, for a total of 10,000 attendees over two days—good for the organizers' profit margins, bad for the length of the lines. The crowds made some people cranky, but at least there was a lot of good food. It just took a while to get it. I missed last year's Chicago Gourmet because I was out of town, but I hear it was better organized, making the lines shorter. I'm hoping that the organizers have finally hit their stride and that this year's event will go smoothly. Tickets for Saturday are already sold out, but according to the website, a few Sunday and weekend tickets are still available.

Sat-Sun, noon-6 PM, Millennium Park, $160-$265

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The terrorist mind—a look back at a 1972 plot to poison Chicago

Posted By on 09.25.12 at 06:46 AM

Pera and Schwandner
  • Pera and Schwandner
Wendy: We should call tomorrow, call the airport. Find out what's what.

Eddie: Yeah, because if you're going to do your thing Friday or so . . .

Schwandner: No, but we're giving you enough time to get out and get to another state.

This is Recycling Week on the Bleader, and I want to contribute. But I'm not dusting off something I wrote once upon a time for this website; I'm looking back 40 years to a story I originally covered for the Sun-Times.

The "thing" Allan "Lonnie" Schwandner had penciled into his schedule for Friday was to release into the water and air a bacterial cocktail that would kill by the millions across a five-state area. Schwandner, 19, and his fellow conspirator, Stephen Pera, 18, planned to survive the scourges of of typhoid, meningitis, botulism, anthrax, diphtheria, and the bubonic plague by inoculating themselves, as well as close friends like Edward and Wendy.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

All week long, revisiting old Bleader writing

Posted By on 09.24.12 at 06:47 AM

This week's Variations on a Theme is recycling, as inspired by Sam Worley's feature story, "The floating forest," about the changing world of wastepaper. While a large part of Sam's story is about China's steady takeover of the wastepaper business, another part was personal—namely, that he grew up in Manistique, Michigan, where the wastepaper plant Manistique Papers was a major industry in the town. While the story is one about changing tides in business, it's also a journey through the past, to when newspaper was printed in bulk and factories were thriving.

So we thought it would be a good idea to do a week where we take our own trip down memory lane, remembering/"recycling" some of our favorite Bleader pieces from over the past few years. With all the posting we do on the blog—and the pace at which we publish it—sometimes superb writing gets lost in the deluge.

The piece I'm choosing to include is Kevin Warwick's "Death by smartphone: the Pitchfork edition," which he wrote for Work Versus Life Week, one of my favorite editions of Variations on a Theme. Kevin opened his piece by publicly calling me out for an e-mail I wrote describing how we would cover the Pitchfork Music Festival. At the time, the piece made me angry. A lot of the coverage that Kevin bemoaned was the kind that I also disagreed with, but was necessary for us to do. I felt unfairly vilified for opinions that, at heart, I felt exactly the same way as Kevin did. But in hindsight, I think it's one of the pieces I'm most proud of publishing. Skepticism about Twitter, live "coverage," and social media in general risks making you look like a Luddite or a fogy unable to "get with the times." But it's also important to step back sometimes and think about just what is the most useful and smartest way to engage with these mediums. And Kevin doesn't just outright castigate technology or social media; he acknowledges that it's complicated, just like people are.

I want to make it clear that I don't hate the wi-fi world. If I did, I would've extricated myself from it years ago and found a nice one-bedroom shanty in the middle of the Montana wilderness to make crafts. Instead, I try to navigate it well enough to hashtag a decent, albeit sometimes hurried, critique, or shoot a beautiful, Brannan-filtered photo while still enjoying a set as a live-music fan. (Believe it or not, not everyone who writes about music is a bitter and withdrawn naysayer. We do occasionally like to watch, without interruption, our favorite bands play their instruments.) But how much does the responsibility to inflict my thoughts on a world that may not want them interfere with my casual enjoyment of watching a live performance by an absorbing band like Godspeed You! Black Emperor? The tweeting and Instagramming can wait, I'll often think to myself, right before I pull my phone out of my back pocket.

Read the rest of Kevin's piece here.

Oh, and check out Tattoo Week, last week's Variations on a Theme.

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