Friday, September 25, 2015

The Other Soccer Shoe Has Dropped

Trump to Meet with Roger Ailes

The latest feud between Donald Trump and Fox News is set to be resolved soon with a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Fox News boss Roger Ailes. From the Hollywood Reporter...

"Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and Donald Trump spoke this morning and plan to have a meeting next week to discuss their differences of opinion regarding Fox's coverage of Mr. Trump's presidential campaign," reads the statement. "Ailes will be joined by senior Fox editorial executives. Mr. Trump believes he has been treated unfairly in certain instances. Fox News has held every candidate in this race to the highest journalistic standards throughout our coverage. We believe a candid meeting about our differences is required and that any misunderstandings can be handled without compromising those standards."

My guess is the spokesperson for Fox News used air quotes while dictating the "highest journalistic standards" portion of the memo. If they actually had those, they would have marginalized this birther monster years ago when he was spouting on about Obama not being born in this country. Instead they let him spout, unchallenged, as if what he was saying wasn't completely crazy.

You can put him on stage in a tuxedo and sing "Puttin' on the Ritz" with him, but don't blame the monster if someone lights a match, and he freaks out. You're the one who created him and put him on a stage he doesn't belong.

Zander Joins the Drive

Mark Zander is leaving his gig at MeTv to take a job doing weekends and fill-ins at the Drive.

Larz at Chicagolandradio & Media has the details.

I just did a story about Zander a few months ago for the Illinois Entertainer. Wishing him the best of luck in his new role.

As the Kane Turns

Another very weird twist in the Patrick Kane case yesterday. The victim's lawyer who held the press conference with the supposed "evidence bag" has resigned from the case because of that evidence bag.

Details are here.

The lawyer of a woman accusing Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane of sexual assault abruptly quit the case Thursday night, saying he's no longer comfortable representing the woman because of how her mother reported finding an evidence bag they believed once held the woman's rape kit. Thomas Eoannou told reporters on Thursday night that he doesn't believe the story he was told about how the bag was found. But he said he's still confident in the woman's allegations against Kane.

Wow. This is getting stranger and stranger.

Caring for the Downtrodden

Thanks to "BD" for this one...

Love This Pope

Thanks "MA" for alerting me to this one. The brilliant Mike Luckovic...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hackers Release Pharma CEO's Personal Info

Remember the guy who jacked up the prices on life-saving drugs from $13.50 to $750 a pill? Well, computer hackers were just as outraged as you they got his address and phone number and posted it.

On the one hand, I'm happy to see that "it's just business" or "I'm just a businessman" is no longer considered an acceptable excuse for such clearly immoral behavior. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable giving out his personal information, so there's no link provided here.

Consider my reaction Schadenfreude-lite.

It should be noted that after getting publicly lambasted for his incredible soul-sucking greed, he has lowered the price to ONLY $1050 for 30 pills. Still greedy, but better.

What happened to German America?

Good piece in the New York Times about my people, the German-Americans. Though there are more German-Americans than any other ethnic group, we have assimilated the most. Why? Well, it's pretty easy to understand, if you think about it. It all began with World War I...

In what is a largely forgotten chapter of American history, during the roughly 18 months of American involvement in the war, people with German roots were falsely accused of being spies or saboteurs; hundreds were interned or convicted of sedition on trumped-up charges, or for offenses as trivial as making critical comments about the war. More than 30 were killed by vigilantes and anti-German mobs; hundreds of others were beaten or tarred and feathered.

Even the German music of Beethoven and Brahms, which had been assumed to be immune to the hysteria, came under attack. “It is the music of conquest, the music of the storm, of disorder and devastation,” wrote The Los Angeles Times in June 1918. “It is a combination of the howl of the cave man and the roaring of the north winds.” Sheet music, along with books by German authors, was burned in public spectacles.

Not surprisingly, those who could hid their Germanic roots; some switched their names; many others canceled their subscriptions to German newspapers, which virtually disappeared. Whatever vestige of German America remained after the 1910s was wiped out by similar pressures during World War II, not to mention the shame that came with German identity after it.

When World War I began, one in every four Chicagoans was German. The Mayor pandered to this group so much, he was known as "Kaiser Bill". But during World War I, names were changed all over the city. Even the frankfurter could no longer be called that. It's been a hot dog ever since.

My family didn't come here until the 1950s, but being a German was not exactly a cool thing to be after World War II, which is why I rebelled against it so strongly (much to the chagrin and disappointment of my father). Ironically, when we moved back to Germany, I had assimilated so much, the Germans didn't consider me German.

Knowing this history is one of the reasons why I always cringe when someone rips an entire nationality for something, or blames them for our problems--whether it's Arabs or Mexicans or insert nationality here.

Try to be a little more thin-skinned

Here is a guy who refuses to apologize for anything he's ever said or done (and he's said and/or done many things that warrant apologies), and his luxurious orange-leather skin looks pretty thick at first glance, but wow is Donald Trump a little baby when he gets criticized. He said he would boycott Fox because they were booking guests that were being "unfair to him".

Wow. What a tough guy. "Mommy, they're being meanies--tell them they have to be nice to me."

And now, he wants the FCC to fine a Fox News pundit who said "Carly cut Trump's balls off at the debate."

"Mommy, that's super duper mean. Tell him to stop being super-duper mean."

I think I have only agreed with Rich Lowry two or three times over the past thirty years, but he totally nailed it with his tweet last night...

Bob Marley's Dog

Thanks "DM" for this one...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Colbert's Trump Interview

I didn't see watch it last night (I was watching and rewatching Cubs highlights), but the Atlantic reviewed Colbert's interview with Trump.

They panned it. Pretty strongly.

Had the Trump interview occurred on The Colbert Report, it would have been—or, well, it could have been—quite a match-up. Two blowhards, blowing hard against each other! But, of course, it wasn’t the character “Stephen Colbert” who conducted last night’s interview. It was Stephen Colbert, the affable late-night host. And that Stephen Colbert—the funny one, the charming one, the complicated one, the one who needs to keep booking politicians for his show—seemed unable to stand up to a man whose response, when asked whether there’s anything at all he would like to apologize for, is a simple “no.”

The Last Years of Ernie Banks

This article is a great read. Highly recommended.

Ron Rappaport making Ernie a little more three-dimensional.

Sad, profound, and wonderfully written.

"Happy Birthday to You" won't cost you anymore

The copyright holders to the song "Happy Birthday to You" have been raking in a cool $2 million a year since they purchased it in the 80s, and began aggressively targeting anyone who used it. If you think that's a song that should be in the public domain, you aren't alone. A group of filmmakers banded together to sue, and they won.

It will soon be in the public domain where it belongs. The tune, by the way, was written in 1893.

Not a Good Moment

The anchor was saying all the right things about Yom Kippur, but the graphic department was way off. That's the Nazi "jew" badge on a death camp uniform. Not good. I'm guessing someone is in deep deep doo doo over this one.

Brian Williams

Brian Williams returned to the airwaves yesterday on MSNBC and was anchoring the arrival of Pope Francis. I know he sinned against journalism, and that's the reason for his banishment to cable news, but I was so happy to watch him yesterday. The guy is incredibly talented in that role. Poised, witty, informative. He's simply better at this than anyone else on TV.

As a media critic I'm supposed to be mad at him forever for his indiscretions, but I just can't do it.

I feel a little bit like the 35-year-old me who cheered Sammy's homers. I knew it wasn't right, but did you see how far he hit that ball?

Farm Aid Anniversary

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the original Farm Aid concert in Champaign Urbana. I spent yesterday conducting a futile search, because somewhere deep in my pile of radio shows I have a tape of myself working as the backstage anchor for the exclusive local radio broadcast. It was an honor (and a great time) because I got to meet all of the acts, including people like Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Randy Newman, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Don Henley, and more. (It seems like everyone was there that day).

30 years have fuzzied my memories a bit, but here are a few things I recall from that day...

*One rock star (I won't say who...but it's one of the guys listed above) was totally bombed--and I met him there well before noon. Another one (also on this list) was accompanied by a very young lady...she was younger than me, and I was 22 at the time. She was not his daughter.

*During one live report, the anchors back in the studio asked me who was on stage at that moment, and I made a joke about the star power and charisma of country singer Vern Gosdin. Got a hate letter for that one. The only hate letter I ever received during my twenty-plus year radio career. Learned a valuable lesson that day. Know your audience. We were working in tandem with the Nashville Network--who had exclusive television rights to the concert--and those people loved Vern Gosdin.

*This was the first time that Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen ever played together on stage. Sammy had not yet joined the band. And when he introduced his song "I can't drive 55", he said..."This is for all you tractor-pullin MFers". I thought the farmers would be insulted, but they loved it.

*The most surprising performance came from John Denver. When he sang "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the place was up for grabs. I don't know if you can tell from this video, but Memorial Stadium was literally rocking and shaking during this song because people were stomping their feet and clapping their hands. I remember thinking..."Am I really doing this to John Denver?"

*But the most moving performance came from Neil Young. It was dark by the time he got on stage, and the crowd hushed when he pulled out his accoustic guitar. Lighters lit the stadium as he sang "Old Man". Everyone swayed back and forth holding their lighters, singing along to the song. I swear I had goosebumps on my arms. What a moment. What a performer. Every time I hear that song to this day, I think about that night in Champaign.

The most important memory for me, though, has nothing to do with the concert, really. I scored tickets to the show for my Uncle Marty who came down from Chicago to see it with a buddy of his. He was excited to hear me on the radio. It was the only time he ever heard me, because Marty passed away from a heart condition the following year at the age of 36.

His son Derek was only 4 years old at the time. Derek is a dad himself now, and is struggling with another horrible medical issue--his two-year-old boy has an incredibly aggressive form of cancer. Just as I felt helpless to help Derek when he was a little boy (I was over there a lot during those first few years--but I know it wasn't enough), I feel helpless now because I don't know what I can do to help his son Caleb (or Derek for that matter--I can't even imagine what he's going through).

So, yesterday was sort of a weird journey for me. It began with fond memories, continued with lots of smiles as I watched the performances on YouTube (Johnny Cash was there? How did I miss that?), and it ended with a sense of melancholy. I'll be saying a prayer for Uncle Marty and little Caleb again today.

(Thanks to Farm Aid for retweeting my tweet)...

RIP Yogi Berra

Yogi passed away yesterday at the age of 90. One of the all-time greats...

Here's a gem from the archives. Go to the 19 minute mark to see him...


Have you heard about this story?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Converting Condos to Rentals

This is an interesting new trend in Chicago. Rentals are hot. Condos are not. So...some condo buildings are combining forces to sell their entire building for re-conversion.

The story is here in Crains.

This made me chuckle

Thanks "OG" for pointing it out...

Oldest Footage of Chicago

Social Media Day

Last night the Cubs did something called "social media day". Every time the Cubs batted, they showed a scroll of tweets from Cubs fans. Around the 7th inning, mine made the scroll. I was surprised how many people I know were also watching--because I got a ton of texts and e-mails.

I think it's because this team is just plain fun to watch.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Migrant Crisis in Croatia

Brent Petersen is the author of the Eckhartz Press book "Truffle Hunt", which takes place primarily in Croatia in the aftermath of the Balkan War. He wrote a blog post today about the current crisis facing Croatia, and how it compares to previous ones.

It's here, if you're interested in an expert's take.

The Latest on Patrick Kane Case

I've been following the Patrick Kane case with a sense of dread. Honestly, it's put a stink on the whole Blackhawks dynasty to me. I should be happy that allegedly no DNA evidence against Patrick Kane was found in the rape kit, according to this article in the Buffalo News, but I'm not. My gut feeling tells me something really happened that night. I hope I'm wrong.

LATE UPDATE: The newest twist and turn involves the attorney for the alleged victim reporting that the rape kit was left at her mother's front door last night. What in the world?

Landeckers at the Emmy's

Look who was at the Emmy's last night... John Landecker​ and his daugher Amy.

Amy's show "Transparent" won a few...

America's Team

Don't look now, but guess which team is leading the league in road attendance?

It's a certain blue and red team that rhymes with Clubs.

The story is here.

Cumulus is in Trouble

Cumulus is the second biggest radio company in the country, and they have had a very bad run on Wall Street recently. On Friday they may have reached new lows. From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Cumulus stock falls below the $1 mark. We’ve been chronicling the successive new six-year lows, but Friday crossed an important line – the $1-per-share mark. The 14-cent one-day loss drops “CMLS” to a close of 96 cents a share. Last week’s downgrades by Moody’s Investors Service may have been one precipitating factor, and a Wall Street observer tells NOW that “Moody’s doesn’t usually just whack you with a big downgrade. Once Moody’s gives you one of those, more may be coming.” For now, Moody’s calls Cumulus “stable,” after the downgrade in its “corporate family rating” from B2 to B3, and the secured credit facilities being nicked from B1 to B2. There’s also the spreading story about non-executive Chairman Jeff Marcus making station visits (almost unprecedented for somebody in that position) and newly-named board member Mary Berner having sit-down meetings with internal executives. That kind of contact by a board member with senior executives below the level of CEO/President Lew Dickey and EVP John Dickey is highly unusual. Friday’s strong negative trading in “CMLS” came on more than triple the usual volume – and is almost as bad a day as July 1, 2009 was, during the Great Recession. That day, Cumulus was in free fall, opening at 90 cents, sinking to 45 cents and closing at 63 cents. What will today bring for Cumulus, now at 96 cents? At that level, its market cap is only about 225 million. Just seven months ago, “CMLS” was trading at $4.51 a share.

What does this mean for employees of Cumulus stations? If history is a guide, look for more cuts. It may seem like that's not even possible anymore at this point, but don't underestimate the desperation of a debt-laden company with a low performing stock.