Category: Weekly Review


Weekly Review 7/5/13

“Say it ain’t so Joe, ailment clinic in 140 characters or less.”\n\nHistory as a Western scholarly discipline naturally followed the dissemination of books as the intellectual medium, within which historians, over the course of hundreds of pages, grappled with and cited older written sources totaling thousands of pages, lending insight into bygone eras where change, readers were told, occurred over decades, centuries, or millennia.\n\nWell, times have changed.  In a Guardian editorial this week titled “The digital age is changing us completely,” Jonathan Freedland quotes a political scientist who observed via Twitter shortly after actor James Gandolfini’s death “Twitter reduces the famous-person-mourning cycle from days to hours.”  And another intellectual notes “Reading is a cognitive, mental, emotional action, and today it is under pressure from all this speed of the internet and the whole digital world.” And that people have become “happily, even giddily, governed by the values of utility, speed, efficiency and convenience.”\n\nHow does history remain relevant in this age of multitudinous ephemera?  It can start by making an effort.\n\nHe’s been at it for the entire baseball season, but this week it was called to my attention that Shoeless Joe Jackson (.356 lifetime batting average, banned from baseball in 1920, died in 1951) is on Twitter.\n\nArchivist Peter Alter and some DePaul students (Matt D’Agostino, Carly Faison, Kelly McHugh, Josh Messer, and Ryan Niederman ) working out of Chicago History Museum are the folks behind Shoeless Joe’s twenty-first century persona.   They have consulted many of the documents that are part of the museum’s 1919 Black Sox collection to determine what Jackson might have to say about his past and baseball in the present.\n\nMany of those documents—including some terrific photos and transcripts from the 1921 criminal trial—are posted on Joe’s Tumblr page as part of an ongoing story that will run through this year’s World Series.\n Continue reading


Weekly Review 6/21/13

\”First world stadiums, sildenafil sovaldi third world schools\”\n\nIt was a pretty slow news week for sports, healing sales politics, drugstore and culture in Chicago, but a pretty big one for sports and social justice worldwide.\n\nWhat began as a smaller protest in response to bus fare hikes in Brazil has erupted into a large scale demonstration (with estimates in the millions of people) against mega sporting events that will cost the country more than $50 billion.\n\nAt least that what Dave Zirin estimates the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games will cost Brazil when it’s all said and done.  Watch Zirin and other informed commentators discuss the situation in this segment from Al Jazeera English (via The Nation).\n\nAll the Chicago Sport and Society favorites covered this story this week.\n\nOn his Nation blog, Zirin informs us: \”This isn’t a movement against sports. It’s against the use of sports as a neoliberal Trojan horse. It’s a movement against sports as a cudgel of austerity.”\n\nNeil deMause writes that the uprising in Brazil—a country run by a leftist government that inherited this mess from the previous populist regime: “just goes to show that government subsidies to major sports organizations aren’t a left or a right thing, they’re a systemic ‘resist the power of the global sports-industrial complex at your peril’ thing.”\n\nAnd Travis Waldron explains: \”the protesters are telling the story Brazil and the world are trying so desperately to ignore. Despite claims of a coming economic bonanza, the World Cup cannot and will not solve the problems facing millions of Brazilians: crumbling schools, low wages, poor health programs, and increasing inequality.\”\n\nAll of this sounds eerily familiar to Chicagoans.  Well, I guess the government in Chicago never put up the kind of taxpayer money for sporting events that Brazil/Rio de Janeiro has for the World Cup and the Olympics, but they almost did!\n\nStill, maybe the Chicago/Brazil analogy isn’t that far off.\n Continue reading


Weekly Review 6/14/13

This week the Bulls broke ground on what is to be a 60, prescription shop 000 square foot practice facility adjacent to the United Center.  For the Bulls, and stuff the training complex will replace the Berto Center in the ‘burbs, thumb where the smaller facility can no longer accommodate the Bulls’ numerous staff and really big players.\n\n\”It wasn’t our first choice,” the Chairman told the press, “My first choice was to build a bigger building out in the Deerfield area. But the mayor said this was important to him. We want to be good citizens and so we went ahead and did it.”\n\nLike Judge Smails sentencing boys to the gas chamber, Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t want to do it; he felt he owed it to us.\n\nAnd Rahm Emanuel was right there at the groundbreaking ceremony to explain why we should all be so appreciative of the Bulls’ decision to practice playing basketball in Chicago:\n\n“It’s this type of investment that happened with the United Center 20 years ago that then spurred a series of public and private investments that have turned the Near West Side into an economic opportunity for the entire city commercially and residentially…This new training facility–after 20 years coming home to Chicago–will have as equal a value in economic opportunity, job creation and job growth for the entire West Side.”\n\nI hate to be the one to break it to the mayor, because he’s kind of on a roll with all this sports facilities and jobs talk lately, but he’s wrong about the United Center.  Rachel Weber, Associate Director of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said as much in a May, 2011 WBEZ Eight Forty-Eight interview on the subject.\n Continue reading


Weekly Review 6/7/13

We live in a world where pro sports team owners get what they want from local governments.  If they don’t get it up front (e.g. White Sox new stadium) they get it on the back end (e.g. United Center tax break).  The Cubs tried and failed to get money from the state for their Wrigley Field renovation.  Now they are using the fact that they’re paying for the renovation as reason the city and Lakeview neighborhood residents and business owners should make all sorts of concessions so the Cubs can make more money.\n\nThis week the slow trudge toward more profitability and power for Tom Ricketts and the Cubs in Lakeview—which I suspect will end with a significant annual tax break on Wrigley Field and Ricketts’ surrounding properties—began in City Hall room 201A in front of members of the Chicago City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection.\n\nIn case you don’t know, viagra buy pilule to protect the sanity of neighborhood residents and the economic viability of other businesses, viagra recipe there is a city ordinance outlining the number of night games the Cubs are allowed to play in Lakeview.  In connection with the renovation plan, physician I guess the Cubs asked for more night games because, well because, and the mayor said “ok I’ll give you 50% more” because, well because.  What takes place now is the ceremonial rubber stamping from the City Council (which in theory holds the power to decide these things).\n\nIt begins in committee, where the proposed amendment to increase the number of night games in Lakeview from 30 to 46 was approved, clearing the way for a full City Council vote later.  My crystal ball says the amendment will pass there too.\n Continue reading


Weekly Review 5/31/13

Two cities, healing here two stories, advice seek one big problem\n\nA great article by Ben Austen appeared in the New York Times Magazine this week, ask which speaks to the effects of neoliberal urban policies in Chicago.  And how the subsidizing and financial appeasement of the corporate class at the expense of the city’s most vulnerable citizens has resulted in the emergence of two starkly different Chicagos: one for the downtown and north side (mostly white) rich and one for the south and west side (mostly black and Latina/o) poor.\n\nThe Austen piece calls into further question the morality of urban America’s neoliberal turn simply by documenting some of the fallout.  And the story serves as a fitting backdrop to two seemingly unrelated stories that the Reader‘s Ben Joravsky has shown should be thought about together.\n\nIn a series of articles, Joravsky has been calling the city’s TIF-funded DePaul/McPier project \”a basketball arena and hotel near McCormick Place that nobody asked for and nobody needs,” which puts the private university basketball program in the running for \”biggest sports-team moocher\” in a city full of sports-team moochers.\n\nIn many of the same articles, Joravsky has been calling the school closings and Rahm Emanuel’s education policies what they are: an all-out attack on public education, which is really an attack on the unionized teachers in the public schools.\n\nClosing public schools and building a basketball arena and hotel will mean a heavier burden on poor, working-, and middle-class students, parents, teachers, and regular taxpayers, while it will benefit wealthy urban developers, financiers, and charter school groups.  There is no saving money here, it’s simply the continued reappropriation of funds and resources from certain segments of society to the super-rich and powerful who, neoliberalism tells us, are going to save us all.  Well, it hasn’t been working out.\n

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\nWhile we’re banging on political philosophies, might as well acknowledge the shortcomings of our bought-out and toothless political system.  In a solid story on “sports welfare” past and present, Patrick Hruby of Sports on Earth ponders a confounding history of political inaction.\n Continue reading