“My Groin Isn’t Where We Want It to Be”

The quote above is from White Sox player Jerry Owens, listed in this morning’s Tribune. Below, in no particular order, are the headlines I was considering for this post, which I realized were nowhere near as funny as Owens’ quote, but worth recording just for the exercise:

And that’s how I met your mother.

That’s what SHE said.

Said Gov. Spitzer to begin his press conference.

I don’t want it in my soup either!

Isn’t that an old Tony Bennett number?

Don’t tell me, pal. This is the Butterball Turkey Hotline.

If that’s your pick-up line, I think I know where the problem is.

Your additions are welcome.

Radio Flash

Tomorrow morning, WBEZ’s “848” show will broadcast a commentary of mine on the Chicago Children’s Museum’s efforts to get itself some prime parkland real estate. So tune in between 9 and 10 if you’ve a mind. And I presume you do.

Update: Click here for the audio link.

Yesterday’s Papers

This morning NPR reported that Osama Bin Laden has issued a new tape, decrying the cartoons of Mohammad that had been printed in Denmark in 2005. 2005! Such a sad development. I know he’s out of touch, but that shit is so old! Did he deliver his remarks on an 8-track? And he also said the new crusade against Islam is the handiwork of Pope Benedict. Sorry, Sammy, but if you want to sound hip by referencing The DaVinci Code, at least get the plot right.

This career trajectory has a high-pitched whistle accompanying it, literally and figuratively. What’s next? Run-ins with the paparazzi? An embarrassing dance number at the MTV Music Awards? Pictures of him getting out of cars with no underwear on? I don’t think the Islamic masses are going to be very happy with seeing Sammy’s camel. Oh, how the lowly have fallen.

Spitzer and Blago

A wag writes,

“The difference between Governor Spitzer and Governor Blagojevich is, after arranging the price, venue and type of services rendered, Blago would show up with his parents and insist they get a free ride.”

That wag, of course, would be me, wearing a porkpie hat and bending people’s ears at the deli.

For the Thousandth Time: “Politics Ain’t Beanbag”

There are few writers/bloggers I look forward to reading more than James Wolcott at Vanity Fair. His wit is one of the most pungent and feral alive, and always brings unexpected pleasures. When you’re expecting him to lay out a few sharp asides, he offers a bomb hidden in a layer cake. When you’re expecting him to start carpet-bombing, he turns into a logical, passionate and unassailable sage. This weekend he posted a marvelous response to the high-minded liberal hankie-twisters who simply cannot bring themselves to vote for Hillary, who would rather see four more years of Republican rule than let her anywhere near the Oval Office. You should definitely check it out.

If only returning to the womb were a viable escape option from Hillary’s taloned deathgrip!

I find my writing wants to orient itself to his style whenever I read him. But it doesn’t come close.

Okay, I Think I’ve Finally Figured Out Blagojevich

The current governor of Illinois is a puzzle. In a state where Dems control both the Senate and the General Assembly, he goes out of his way to antagonize people. The state budget has still not been worked out, yet he goes on TV and proposes new expensive initiatives. He’s even started cleansing people’s criminal records as favors to other politicians, so those people will be in his debt. Crazy? Arrogant? Contemptuous and ignorant of the law? Check and double-check.

Now he denies that he’s the “Public Official A” that has been mentioned in several Justice Dept bribery and patronage probes, Rezko and the rest. At a time when the previous governor is locked up for “pay for play” policies, Blago keeps doing it and more.

But here’s what I think is happening. You know that in some self-defense manuals, they tell you if you’re about to be mugged on the subway, to act a little kookoo and wet your pants? The theory is a mugger doesn’t want to deal with a crazy person and will just let you alone.

That’s Blago’s plan. Peeing on himself in public. Making everyone think he’s crazy (or more crazy than he’s shown before). It’s a way out of being indicted, because no one wants to see a mental defective be put on the stand for racketeering and bribery charges. It’s sort of cruel. In addition, he might take the whole state down with him, if it could sink any lower than it already is. It’s like the Mafia don who feigned craziness by walking around in his bathrobe all day talking to himself on the street.

Blago’s got more style than just wearing a bathrobe. He’s so used to pissing on colleagues and allies, not to mention citizens, that urine is his weapon of choice. The Big Dog is doing what comes naturally, except he’s doing it all over himself now. Crazy like a fox, trapped in the corner.

The Tie Continues

I don’t know what I think about the primary results yesterday. It’s good to see Hillary confound the conventional wisdom and refuse to die, and good for Obama to see he’s not anointed yet. It’s good to see voters come out in record numbers. And I like to watch a good fight as much as anyone.

But I don’t think an ongoing struggle between them is going to do any good for the Democratic Party. It won’t help them refine their issues, it will just inspire the candidates and (mostly) their advisers to bring out the throwing knives and poison pills. It’s already happened with Hillary’s campaign, the “Kitchen Sink” strategy, and behold! It worked! Prepare for a whole lot more of that. And months of continual backstabbing will make it a lot harder at the convention for people to rally round one candidate. Bitterness will linger and dilute the party’s strength, money and energy. And McCain can cruise from fundraiser to fundraiser, looking like an elder statesman and selling his soul for evangelical endorsements at his leisure.

Good lord, when are we ever going to shrink this campaign season? It’s nearly eight months between the Iowa caucuses and the convention. Have these schedules changed since the advent of the horseless carriage? How much money, time and air space has to be spent over this thing?

Not trusting the touch-screen voting machines (wonder why?), many voters in Ohio asked for paper ballots yesterday, causing shortages in many areas. Why do they have such trouble holding elections there? It’s starting to shake my faith that the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductions aren’t on the up-and-up. You can’t tell me that some conspiracy hasn’t been keeping .38 Special from the Hall all these years. “Waitin’…Anticipatin’….”

Ohio, listen, it’s not so hard to fix an election. People do it all the time, especially here in Chicago. The trick is, don’t make your move too early. That’s when the reporters, hungry for a story, are around. Don’t make it hard to vote in the beginning, with dodgy computers and too few paper ballots. Let everyone vote. Grease the skids. Make it easier than using an ATM. Then, just lose the results. Toss the proper number of ballot boxes in the river, screw up the electronic transmission of results by never testing the system, erase hard drives with magnets. Come on, it’s like you guys want to rewrite the book on this or something. Get over yourselves and use the groundwork that’s already been laid.

Tales of Murder

On Saturday night, we had the sublime pleasure of attending the first performance of Lyric Opera’s “Eugene Onegin”. Tschaikovsky’s opera about a rich aloof dweeb turning down a young girl’s love, only to hunger for it years later, was a sumptuous feast, with an all-native-Russian cast giving it their old-country best. (It was pretty cool all evening to hear audience members speaking in Russian–in the garage, in the lobby, in the seats behind us. They loves them some “Onegin”, babushka.) The standing ovations that came at the end were most spontaneous and sincere I have heard in a long time.

And Dmitri Hvorostovsky was superb in the title role. How cool is it to see “The Siberian baritone” leading off a performer’s biography. There’s no arguing with that. It even trumps Detroit on your resume.

The most wrenching scene in the opera is the duel between Onegin and his erstwhile best friend, the poet Lensky. At a boring formal ball, Onegin decides to amuse himself by flirting with Lensky’s fiance and making him jealous. Things get pushed to far, Lensky throws down the glove, and the next morning is killed. Lensky’s aria, “Kuda Kuda, vy Udalilis (“Where have you gone, o golden days of my spring?”), was truly heartbreaking, the confession of a man who loved too much who is about to be killed by one who loved too little. Frank Lopardo was magnificent.

For some strange reason, as soon as the scene was over, my mind kept replaying a news item I’d read in the Tribune that morning. The audience was moved to tears by Lensky’s death, but what kind of banality creeps around the modern city, day in and day out? Or does this really mean anything?

Man accused of shooting 3 in Chicago denied bail

Delano Horn thought he didn’t leave any of the witnesses to his January shooting rampage alive, according to prosecutors.

After allegedly shooting three people in an Englewood neighborhood home, he used one victim’s cell phone to send text messages to her family, Assistant State’s Atty. Nancy Wilder said at Horn’s bail hearing Friday.

“They all dead. Ha, ha, ha,” Horn said the messages stated. But the victims survived and identified Horn, Wilder said. Horn, 21, is charged with three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated criminal sexual assault. …

Wilder said Horn was after revenge Jan. 17 when he broke into the home of a woman in the 5500 block of South Justine Street. The woman had told Horn’s girlfriend that he was the father of another woman’s baby, Wilder said.

Threatening her with a gun, Horn raped the woman, Wilder said. He is accused of binding her; another woman who lived in the home, Chantelle McGee; and a male friend, Shawndale Thomas; with duct tape.

“He told all three victims to choose who would die first,” Wilder said. “When they refused to choose, he threatened to bring [the woman’s] 9- and 5-year-old children to watch him shoot the adults.” Minutes later, Horn opened fire, Wilder said.

Trying to get help, Thomas then fell down a flight of stairs, Wilder said. As McGee pretended she was dead, the other woman hid her children, locked the door and jumped from a second-story window, breaking her arm.

Horn left with the cell phone of the woman he raped, Wilder said. He fled to Iowa, she said.

Horn was arrested Wednesday when police found him hiding at a cousin’s home in the 6500 block of South Harvard Avenue, Wilder said. She said he confessed to the shootings.

I guess there’s style, and then there’s style.