Friday, March 30, 2018

Sgt. Pepper

Paul is still rockin the tune today...

Mitch Michaels in Berwyn

Heading out to Berwyn tonight for a rock show at WIRE. Also selling Mitch Michael's book "Doin' the Cruise" there, because Mitch has a history with the band.

It's the 40th anniversary of a band called Gambler. They were on the 1st WKQX Hometown Album under a different name (Buster) and went on to get a Capital Records contract for a couple of albums. They've asked Mitch to come by and emcee and bring some books to sell.

Mitch asked me to join him. Looking forward to it.

Protest Against Laura Ingraham

She's the screechy-voiced evening host at Fox News, and she really stepped in it this week. First she made fun of the Parkland survivor students on the air (after their speeches at the rally in Washington). But then she went after one of them, David Hogg, on Twitter--making fun of his GPA and his inability to get accepted at certain universities.

Classy, eh?

Now that advertisers are leaving her show in droves (eight of them yesterday alone), she has been forced to apologize. Her apology said she was apologizing in the spirit of Holy week.

Yeah, Laura, I'm sure God is on your side on this one. God has always been a huge gun guy, and believes that there isn't any depth you can reach in support of guns that isn't cool by him. Especially during Holy Week.

(Photo: Laura Ingraham)

Don Imus Leaves Radio

From this morning's Tom Taylor newsletter...

Imus leaves radio on his own terms - walks off his “last show” two hours early. Don was choked-up and emotional, and he left some fans feeling shocked. A NOW reader tuned in to WABC New York/770 yesterday morning at 6:45 to hear Imus say he’d be playing the first song he ever played on the radio. After the 7 o’clock news, that tune was “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett and Union Gap. Imus recalled being so nervous, 50 years ago, that he messed up and talked over the cold-start intro. Then he began a lengthy rap about his career, ending with something he’d apparently written for this last day. He said he’ll miss talking with his audience. Without naming names, he also apparently took shots at Howard Stern and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Here’s more from the listener – “Then suddenly there was a noise and feedback, as he evidently took off his headphones right into the mic, and he walked out of the studio and was gone.” Before that, he’d said “I know in my heart there’s been nobody ever better on the radio than me…Nobody ever did this” – working in major-market radio for 50 years at his level. Then this - “You have no idea how much I’m going to miss you.” After he split, the producer plugged in Kid Rock’s “You Never Met a [think a 12-letter variant of the f-word] Quite Like Me.” They filled out the rest of the I-Man’s last shift with best-of material. Imus was right – we won’t see his like again.

I had to play this one on WJMK many times. Talk about a creepy song...

Accountant Goalie

This could be my favorite story of the year...

Scott Foster thought it was going to be just another night. Then the 36-year-old accountant signed a contract, put on his goaltender gear and waited in Chicago's locker room. Then he got into the game.

Then, it was his night.

Foster was pressed into action when Chicago lost Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia to injuries, and the former college goalie stopped all seven shots he faced over the final 14 minutes of the Blackhawks' 6-2 victory over the playoff-bound Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

"This is something that no one can ever take away from me," Foster said. "It's something that I can go home and tell my kids and they can tell their friends. ... Just a ton of fun."

Foster is part of a crew of recreational goaltenders who staff Chicago's home games in case of emergencies for either team. But it usually just means a nice dinner and a night in the press box watching the world's best players compete at hockey's highest level.

Windy City Reviews on "Cubsessions"

Thanks so much to the good folks over at Windy City Reviews. They posted this incredible review of our newest book "Cubsessions" yesterday, just in time for Opening Day (Cubs won!)

Cubsessions. Becky Sarwate and Randy Richardson. Eckhartz Press, March 31, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 178 pages.

Reviewed by Dennis Hetzel

Famous people fascinate all of us. Don’t try to deny it. And there’s no shortage of famous people among the millions who follow the Chicago Cubs. That’s the premise of Cubsessions, a series of interviews with passionate fans who have achieved various levels of fame.

The anthology is an obvious labor of love for the co-authors, Becky Sarwate and Randy Richardson. The result is a start-of-the-season gift for every diehard Cubs fan. Here are a few of the nuggets the authors unearthed:

Author Sara Peteskey described how Cubs first baseman Bill Buckner was her role model for playing through pain. To everyone but Chicago fans, Buckner is best known for a tragic error that cost the Boston Red Sox a potential World Series title, overshadowing a great career in which he played through injuries that might have debilitated others.

Michael Strautmanis, who has worked with Barack Obama for many years, reflected that it was a lot cooler for a black man in 1990s Chicago to root for the White Sox—the team his mentor supported. Reflecting on the trials and tribulations of rooting for the Cubs, he once wrote “there’s nothing blacker than being a Cubs fan.”

Scott Turow, master of the courtroom fiction thriller, recalled the agony of being a young fan as the Cubbies collapsed in 1969 and how he tried to hold his bat like Ernie Banks—right elbow parallel to the ground with fingers wriggling, waiting for the pitch.

Actor Joe Mantegna shared the back stories behind the famous play “Bleacher Bums,” about the memorable characters who occupied Wrigley Field’s bleachers during the team’s down years.

That’s a small sample of those interviewed, and Chicagoans will recognize many of the names, including Bob Newhart, Nick Offerman, Bob Sirott, Bill Kurtis, and Pat Brickhouse, widow of Jack, the late, iconic broadcaster.

For this reviewer—I’m such a diehard Cubs fan that I wrote two novels about them—my bond felt strongest with the performer Adrian Zmed, whose favorite Cub of the late 1960s was also mine—underappreciated second baseman Glenn Beckert. “I never lost that sense of magic,” Zmed remarked, no matter the tribulations the Cubs inflicted upon him (and the rest of us) until the magical rain delay of 2016 and the seeming miracle that followed. Scott Turow recalled how he screamed as loudly as he could at that moment: “It finally happened!”

The best part of the book might be the photos, many of them donated by those interviewed. My favorite was little Joe Mantegna sitting on his parents’ living-room floor, watching a Cubs game on a blurry 1950s black-and-white television. Second place goes to Pat Brickhouse, standing in front of a portrait of Jack with a proud, intoxicating smile.

Sarwate and Richardson wear their Cub credentials proudly. Both contribute to the Wrigleyville Nation website. Sarwate is a freelance writer for numerous publications and an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern Illinois University. Richardson is an attorney and award-winning writer of articles and two novels. He’s also a founding member of the Chicago Writers Association.

You’ll also be doing a good deed with your purchase. The authors are donating 100 percent of their proceeds from book sales to a collection of three charities: Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities (CBCC), Scoreboard Charities (SC), and the Chicago Baseball Museum (CBM).

The book’s main limitation is some inevitable repetition because, after all, no matter your station in life, Cub fans share similar memories. You don’t have to be NPR’s Scott Simon, actor Dennis Franz, broadcaster Len Kasper, or any of the other celebs to have purchased a ticket on the emotional roller-coaster that all Cub fans ride, to celebrate in the Cubs’ October 2016 success.

“We are a special society,” Mantegna told the authors. “That’s what being a Cubs fan is all about.”

And that’s the point of Cubsessions. Cub blue is Cub glue in a time when we all need positive passions that bring us together.

Be Careful What You Say

One Question With The Creators of Cubsessions: Becky Sarwate & Randy Richardson

From Hypertext Magazine...


Randy Richardson: They all captured different aspects of just what it means to be a Cubs fan. But, for me, the one that best captured it has to be WXRT radio personality Lin Brehmer. The image of him sitting by himself in his comfy chair, in the early hours after the Cubs won the World Series, and just a few hours before he’d be on the air, with a big smile on his face spooning a celebratory root beer float, I can picture it so clearly. That, to me, captured the childlike joy that I think so many of us experienced when the Cubs finally won it all.

Becky Sarwate: It’s hard because I had the opportunity to tell so many great stories in the book. But I think Joe Mantegna’s perspective did much to tie the larger narratives together. For example, he’s great friends with Adrian Zmed and Tom Dreesen, who also have stories in the book. It’s the idea of Cubs community on the micro level. But in addition, he is the genius behind Bleacher Bums, the seminal 1970s stage production that has toured the world, been produced for television, and represents the spirit of bleeding Cubbie blue. Fans from all walks of life coming together for a singular passion. Many of the other interviewees in the book had come across Bleacher Bums at some stage of their creative careers as well. Joe Mantegna’s story weaves many elements together – and he did it totally by accident. Just by thoughtfully sharing these memories and ideas that have a universal touch.


Order a copy of Cubsessions from Eckhartz Press.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Do Not Disturb

Opening Day.

DreX is back

From this morning's Robert Feder column...

Kevin Buchar, the radio personality known as DreX who hosted mornings for eight years on iHeartMedia Top 40 WKSC FM 103.5, is coming back to Chicago. Sources said he’s expected to sign on next week at Entercom Top 40 WBBM FM 96.3, where he will replace “The J Show” (Jamar “J Niice” McNeil and “Showbiz” Shelly Menaker). After DreX left Kiss FM in 2010, he briefly hosted evenings at KGO in San Francisco. Most recently he’s been off the air, living in San Antonio. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, B96 tied for 18th in mornings with a 2.4 percent audience share.

I interviewed DreX when he was working in Chicago last time. Found him to be a very engaging fella.

George Will Baseball Quiz

This was a fun primer before the first pitch of opening day.

I scored 23 out of 41--and I'm a total baseball nerd.

Trump's Doctor Becomes VA Director

What are his qualifications for leading a staff of more than 300,000 employees?

He told the world that Trump was taller than he really is, and that he isn't obese.

I'm surprised he wasn't named Secretary of State.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Captain Kirk Voices Chicago Pitch to Amazon

Cubs Party

This book and this (star-studded celeb) party is worth your while, Cub fans. I'm personally really looking forward to it...

Go Ramblers!

WGN Walk of Fame

Still not sure where it will be because WGN is moving to new studios in May, but we do know the five inductees. From this morning's RAMP newsletter...

WGN Radio/Chicago announced its 2018 Walk of Fame class Tuesday morning during The Steve Cochran Show -- legendary velvet-voiced announcer Pierre Andre, longtime sports-talk personalities David Kaplan and Chuck "The Swirsk" Swirsky, station meteorologist Roger Triemstra and current WGN traffic and transportation reporter Mary Van De Velde.

WGN Station Manager Todd Manley commented, "In this year's class, we give tribute to two prominent Chicago sports personalities, an affable weatherman, an announcer from the 'golden days of radio,' and a trusted voice in morning drive for over two decades."

This year's esteemed group of inductees will be celebrated in a ceremony and live broadcast on Friday, May 18 from 10-11:30am at the Tribune Tower at 435 North Michigan Avenue. This will be the last class to be honored at the Tribune Tower. [

Walmart Pulls Cosmo From Check Out Lines

This move was made in response to the #metoo movement. Walmart feels that Cosmo is sexually exploitative.

Well, duh.

But it's bought and read exclusively by women, and if it's not right there by the checkout counter, what are women supposed to do while they wait for the over-21 cashier to scan the wine? They used to be able to discover 27 ways to make his toes curl in ecstasy. Now they'll have to settle for reading about Jennifer Aniston's latest pregnancy rumor.

It doesn't get any lower than this

Alex Jones is the same guy who said the Sandy Hook massacre was staged by actors. Trump has appeared on his program and praised him...

Not sure what this is all about

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

He's so sorry, Uncle Albert

This is drunker than I have ever been...and that's saying something.

Truffle News

Brent Petersen is the author of the Eckhartz Press book "Truffle Hunt" and the foremost expert (I know) in truffle news...

Just Another Pizza Man

News that has to kill Trump

The Stormy Daniels interview on 60 Minutes was the highest rated interview on 60 minutes since 2008.

The one that beat it in 2008 was the interview with Barack Obama.

That has to be a gut punch to the man who values ratings above all else.

Woman Marries a Tree

It wasn't even a young and pretty tree. This was a 100-year-old tree. She married it in the hopes of publicizing that the tree was scheduled to be cut down. Eighty friends from the neighborhood attended the ceremony.

It was a little sappy.

The couple intends on laying down roots in the area.

They just want everyone to leaf them alone.

Fired for Being French

Actually, this waiter wasn't fired for being French. He was fired for being aggressive, rude, and disrespectul.

He's the one who says that's the same thing as being French. That's the grounds of his lawsuit.

I've been to France. Can't disagree with his assessment.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The wife's grumble that led to pop's greatest love song

It made her husband write 10cc's I'm Not In Love. And boy did it work – they've been married for 52 YEARS. I love reading these stories behind the songs...

My favorite protestor

I was watching the coverage of the March for Our Lives on Saturday, and who turned up as a protestor? None other than Paul McCartney.

The reporter asked him why he was protesting. He reminded the clueless reporter that "One of my best friends was the victim of gun violence."

Remember him? His first name was John.

40 Years of Rockin

Robert Feder has a great piece today about my old pal Bob Stroud, who just signed another long term deal to remain the midday man at the Drive.

Congrats to both Bob and Rob on this fine article.

I made note of that too

Great observation here...

As soon as she said it, I paused the tape, looked at Bridget and said: "And you thought this was going to be a waste of time tonight."

Cameo Book Launch

Thanks to everyone who came out to Teasers on Friday night for a successful book launch party! Beth Jacobellis signed and sold a ton of books. Look for another book event with Beth in the coming weeks. (Of course her book "Cameo" remains available via Eckhartz Press). In the meantime, here are a few photos...

Tick Tock

Get Crackin, fellas. The home opener is only a few weeks away...

29 years and counting

I spent my Saturday afternoon with my good buddies at the Loop Poor Man's Fantasy League draft. It's our 29th year in a row, and one of my favorite days of the year...