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My sordid past

Thought of the Day

Courtesy of David Bowie:

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

A lot’s been on my mind lately. To me, one who does not keep trusted friends’ counsel, who does not outwardly show any interest in learning from any outside force, who asserts his or her leadership prowess simply by pointing out the shortcomings he or she perceives in others, and who chooses no solution over acknowledging that there’s a problem is no leader, and really is just one step from dead.

I’ve witnessed someone, who in 15 short years went from being a young man who carried a bit of an aura about him to becoming a bitter old man with no original ideas. He has become a man who measures achievement and accomplishment by “activity.”

Anyway, the time’s come to bury the remnants of an old friend who passed 11-plus years ago. Now that was a leader.

15 seconds of fame…

Last night, I was at a get-together at a friend’s home. After the NCAA games were over, the television was switched to the Class 4A IHSA boys’ basketball final, between Waukegan and Whitney Young.  Waukegan had a wonderful season, and they tested Young, generally acknowledged as the best team in the state all year. (Young’s star player is Marcus Jordan, son of the best basketball player I’ve ever seen.)

At any rate, former Grayslake Central basketball coach Tim Bowen is an assistant on the Waukegan coaching staff. Bowen had a rough go at Grayslake, rebuilding the program from scratch to a regional champion before being fired last summer. Right now, he is embroiled in a lawsuit with a couple of parents from Grayslake.

Bowen is recognized by his peers as a good coach, and he’s a decent guy. He’s been in this spot before, serving as an assistant on Chuck Ramsey’s staff at Warren when it finished second in state in 1999.

Anyway, after the game, the IHSA broadcast (IHSA does its own broadcast and sells rights to local stations) showed the awards ceremony, and listed the names of each Waukegan player and coach. A couple of Waukegan players were identified as being from Winnebago High School. Hopefully, the IHSA technicians spelled their names correctly.

One name not spelled correctly was Tim Bowen’s.  Had you taken in the broadcast, you would have thought “Tom Bowen” was the assistant coach for Waukegan.

I saw this all the time at state tournament events, where game programs were loaded with misspellings and inaccurate information. These are supposed to be IHSA-produced materials to support the participants. It’s a disgrace there are so many errors.

I haven’t followed high school basketball as religiously this year, but I am certain at least one player on Waukegan or Young had a name misspelled on the screen following the game. Getting home from Peoria and watching the DVR’d recording of the game and seeing the misspelling will be a perfect way for that player to cap the year.

In the Wake of In the Wake of the News…

The aforementioned Bernie Lincicome has taken his show onto the Net and has posted some of his favorite columns at his personal site.  Today, he posted a new column, an average effort by his standards, which of course is better than what any of the Chicago sports columnists have produced lately.  The fact Phil Rogers is still employed and Bernie Lincicome is not is a travesty. Should Lincicome charge money to read his blog and should he write more on my teams (all sports, just like all politics, is ultimately local), I’d pay good money to read his columns.

If Lincicome isn’t enough to fill your fix of what the Tribune’s sports page was, let me recommend Bob Markus’ blog. I linked to it back in September, when he recounted his memories of Yankee Stadium. I also should direct you to his argument in favor of Tommy John for Hall of Fame (one of the least talked about Hall snubs).

He posts most Tuesdays, and he really hasn’t lost much off his fastball, either.  Again, I’d pay money to read his weekly correspondence.

Markus retired in 1996; many of the great Tribune writers did. Bill Jauss, a personal favorite, hung them up two years ago. As for Lincicome, his departure came in August 2000. Why? Depends on whom you ask and when you ask.

When the fate of the Rocky Mountain News was in doubt, staffers produced a site titled I Want My Rocky. Lincicome posted an entry describing his entrance to Denver. According to this, he nearly left the Trib in 1991 and finally pulled the trigger, leaving the Trib for the RMN in 2000. (Fortunately, he did not miss out on the Jim Essian era.)

Michael Miner’s Hot Type told a different story in 2000.  According to the Chicago Reader, Lincicome had enough of the Trib’s leadership. (For the record, I’ve heard from others that John Cherwa was very difficult to work for.)  Finally, Lincicome was fed up when Cherwa explained Lincicome’s departure by saying that Lincicome just wanted to get closer to Denver, where he owned a place.

“We come and go. I’m flattered that anybody cares if I’m in Chicago or not. All I ever tried to do was put 750 words on a page and have somebody not regret having read it. I came from Fort Lauderdale, where I’d worked for the Tribune paper. The [Tribune] editor at the time was Jim Squires. He said, `Look at it this way, we’re bringing you up to the big leagues.’ I said, `Why? Do they have a different alphabet up here?’ I didn’t need the Tribune to validate what I’d done in my career, and I don’t need the Tribune to validate me now. They have an alphabet in Colorado. And Breckenridge.”

Whatever his reasons for leaving the Tribune, it was probably a good career move. His work did not suffer. The only thing that has suffered is my “favorite” sports section.

The Hell with Rick Morrissey. I have two “In the Wake of the News” columnists online now. They’ll be regular visits.

Now Bob Verdi, when are you going to run some extra columns?

About Rick Santelli…

Yesterday’s rant has made him the household name du jour.

I have a secret for you: he’s right. I’ve made money on investments. I’ve lost money on investments — big investments, too.  Some of my losses weren’t because I made uninformed decisions. Chance played a big role in it. But I played, and I knew the rules of the game, and I took on the risk I was comfortable with. Maybe the floor of CME group’s Board of Trade isn’t a statistical cross-section of America, but Santelli’s correct. Let bad mortgages go into foreclosure, or let the banks broker their own deals with their borrowers, but let them figure it out for themselves. If the asset is truly worthless, it’ll go to zero in value. Problem is, somebody will take a flyer on just about anything so long as they feel it’s at the right price. The market is simply nature.  Government can try to play God, but not even God attempts to do the things government troes to do. We cried for the government to do something about oil and gas prices. Get those fat cat speculators and Big Oil execs bringing in big bucks last summer when oil was $145/barrel.  We did nothing. What did it give us? $33/barrel oil and $1.80/gallon gas. Now we’re supposed to do something so we don’t grow more dependent on oil. (I don’t know; I think doing nothing did a good job of weaning us off gas guzzlers, and it also helped bring oil down.) The left hasn’t hesitated to skewer Rick. I could bore you with links to Democratic Underground, or Huffington Post or Wonkette, but if you want to go there, do it on your own time.  The White House is on board. Robert Gibbs even got personal with Santelli. How dare a derivatives trader (cue evil music) question the benign law professor? It is fun when the official spokesman of the President takes aim at a private citizen for daring express his opinion.

(By the way, nice softball from that reporter: “Calm the unwashed masses. Let them know how our Lord and Savior President is going to deliver us all from evil.” Santelli responds quite simply: Contract law must be sacred. Chris “I want to run as a Democrat from Pennsylvania, but I HAVE CREDIBILITY DAMMIT AS A JOURNALIST IGNORE THE FACT I WAS ON TIP O’NEIL’S PAYROLL AND JIMMY CARTER’S PAYROLL BUT SCREW RICK SANTELLI WHOSE CREDIBILITY IS IMPEACHED BY A VOTE FOR JOHN MCCAIN IN NOVEMBER” Matthews equates Rick Santelli to Ebeneezer Scrooge.

One point the Leftist blogs have made is that Santelli is a hack. He cheerleaded for TARP and bank bailouts last year, and now he’s bitching about the homeowner’s bailout. Very good point. Santelli’s sarcasm is obviously very subtle.

Now if only we can get him to run for the U.S. Senate, the Governor’s office, or Mark Kirk’s seat.

The beginning of the end? Or just a beginning?

The big news tonight is that Jay Mariotti resigned from the Sun-Times. I’m not the only Chicago sports fan, journalist, curmudgeon, or supporter of good taste that is happy to see him go. But that’s for another day.

Here’s the news. Keep in mind that this is coming from Mariotti, a guy who is loathe to use logic if it doesn’t contradict conventional wisdom. Here’s the write-up in the Tribune:

Just back from Beijing where he wrote about the Summer Olympics, Mariotti said in a phone interview Tuesday night that he decided to quit after it became clear while in China that sports journalism had become “entirely a Web site business. There were not many newspapers there.” He added that most of the journalists covering the Games were “there writing for Web sites.”

Mariotti had just signed an extension that would have saddled Sun-Times readers with three more years of his garbage.  The Sun-Times, which is hemorhaging readers, was going to pay him upwards of six figures a year.  Why leave now?

I’m a competitor and I get the sense this marketplace doesn’t compete.  Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both papers. I think probably the days of high stakes competition in Chicago are over.  To see what’s happened in this business…I don’t want to go down with it.

Astounding. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed the layoffs and high-profile buyouts that have shrunk the size of both the Tribune and Sun-Times newsrooms.  If not, look here, and here, and here, and here, and tell me that the Tribune and Sun-Times will not suffer.  My wife and I (who met at the Sun-Times News Group’s Pioneer Press Lake County bureau) just learned of more people at STNG who have taken buyouts.  I left (somewhat loudly and unceremoniously) when it was beginning. I’ve freelanced with the Herald, and even there the staff is asked to do more with less.

Maybe Mariotti has a point. Few people actually read the hard copy of the paper anymore.  We get the Tribune, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, but we’re oddities. No. I’m the oddity. My wife tolerates the stack of used newspapers before ordering me to get rid of them. (I should have pursued a relationship with a girl I knew at IU who told me that the scent of newsprint “turned her on…”)

People are flocking away from newspapers, so the professionals attempt to reinvent the wheel. Here is what a proposed redesign of the Tribune looks like:

My eyes! My eyes!

Awful. Cancel-my-subscription awful. Looks-like-the-new-Sun-Times awful.

Michael Miner (again) sums it up well:

This front page is pathetic. You know those old guys who let what’s left of their hair grow long and pull it into a ponytail, thinking that’ll make it easier to score? That’s how it’s pathetic.

Blogs are terrific, and the Internet has given rise to countless “publications” for little to no cost.  That’s great. But the bricks-and-mortar newspaper still has a role.

Heft. Gravitas. Significance.

Things are important because it’s in the paper, because space and resources are precious, and because editors and reporters understand fairly well what is relevant, what is unusual, and what is worthy of news.  What do bloggers link to? News sites.

Newspapers also (for the most part) answer to some kind of ethical codes, and most of all, to advertisers and readers.

The Sun-Times and Tribune are going to have to face some hard decisions in order to survive, but the worst might be over.  The Mariottis of the world have no place in a newspaper of the future. Get rid of some of the egos, and let the hard-working reporters take over. Any asshole can have an opinion. You’re here reading mine — and notice you don’t have that much company!