June 15, 2012


Hyatt Lobby

NeoCon was sparsely attended and the programs were dullsville. When sales people are talking to other sales people and not customers you know that NeoCon has lost the audience it once enjoyed. Apparently the Mart has increased the costs for exhibitors hence the empty spaces.

Printer’s Row Book Fair saw noticeably higher prices this year. Two years ago bought first edition of Out of Africa for a few dollars and now the same book is $100. We made a fortuitous stop by the Gerald Rilling bookstall, replete with Africana and Brian Garfield’s book about yet another fraudulent author this one Colonel Meinertzhagen who fabricated journals and diaries (in 1906) from East Africa.

Gerald RIlling and his new book

Oprah is promoting a new book Wild by one Cheryl Strayed that upon reading seems curious and curiouser. It tells the tale of the author’s eleven-hundred-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—ALONE. She was “reeling from catastrophe” (who isn’t?), and was healed by the odyssey.  Genre Inspiratiana!

Lurie Children's Hospital

We went over early last Saturday to see the move into the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital. Did anyone read any national press coverage about this important event? We didn’t. National press concentrates on all the violence and murders here and reinforces the stereotype of a dangerous city. Which in fact it appears to be these days.

Crain’s reports that health care costs in the Chicago area are higher than most of the nation’s. With more leverage against health insurance companies, big hospitals can demand higher reimbursement rates from insurers, which in turn help drive up premiums. “It is a big threat,” says Robert Town, professor of health care management at the University of Pennsylvania. “As hospital markets become more consolidated, hospitals gain bargaining power . . . and prices tend to go up.” Oh dear!

Old Town Art Fair

An international architecture firm Zimmer Gunsul Frasca was employed for the Lurie project which always leads one to ask why? We have some of the best architects in the world right here who understand the local environment. Not a big fan of the massive angular building which looks like a corporate headquarters.  Much prefer Perkins and Will’s suave, graceful Rush Hospital though they are being sued for unnecessary cost overruns to the tune of eight million.

Lydia at the Shanghai

Cannot look at Legrange’s Elysian (AKA Waldorf) silhouette without seeing the Mansard Roof as Shriner’s Fez, thanks to Blair Kamin’s wit. Tried to like it but the scale is utterly wrong. Always did feel it rather odd that the grand bourgeois style of dix-neufieme FRANCE popped up all over Chicago in the past ten years.

Everyone is a Francophile of the Heart here though no one seems to know the language or the back roads of Languedoc or the Massif Central.

A bluebird told us the Richter in the Hyatt cost a cool $5.5 million dollars. No wonder he’s mass producing them these days.

Saturday Celebration at Aqua

Good Grief—we see the new Reader is using the inexpressibly vulgar expression “Kicking ass since 1971” right under the logo. Mike Miner doing the PC thing by attacking the Tribune.

New book Barack Obama by David Maraniss tells of his calculated decision to be half white in a black world instead of half black in a white world. Better social advantage to forge an identity from that vantage point. This cautious calculating controlled nature has been a hallmark of the administration.

Fighting Breast Cancer

Is it just us or do others also feel that actors and actresses and the entertainment complex have too much power in politics. Recall Barbra Streisand and her “special relationship” with Virginia Clinton? So comically Brooklyn.  What gives hoofers the right to wield such authority? Do they think they’ll get an even bigger piece of the pie or is their hubris so strong that they just want power?  George Clooney swanning around like a senator is cringe-worthy. The Revenge of Democracy.

What does he know about hardship? Why listen to him any more than to the mega rich bundlers and their “social consciences? Listen rather to the brilliant economists like Professor Robert Barro from Harvard and the Hoover Institute at Stanford who know that the current administration’s short term safety net programs like food stamps and “green energy “ have been ineffective for the past three years. The real need if for long term reforms to the tax structure and policies focusing on individual incentives to work, produce and invest.

NOMI roof

The Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula is the ne plus ultra of an outdoor eaterie.  Décor very 30s Hollywood Shanghai red and black laquerie, with.lunch offerings modest in price. Very sparsely populated (unlike Nomi rooftop) with  tall, elegant Chinese waiters padding around; thoroughly clean of the tables of boisterous women having lunch in overcrowded hot rooms like RL’s which is so headache-making.

Outdoors at the Lux and Tavern always a parade of the usual gals with those F-Me Heels strolling back and forth, before the table-packs of beefy males

Alderman Joe Moore briefly succeeded in getting foie gras banned in Chicago which decision was then was overturned by the City Council whose members are hardly the foie gras and caviar type so we can only assume they caved in to pressure from restaurant associations and Fancy Schmancy Chefs. Now California soon to remove this disgusting comestible from plates – you know it’s extreme animal torture. We note that Cyrano’s on Wells has a full menu of numerous goose liver items.

Calder Cleaning

Alexandra Stanley covering the Diamond Jubilee for the New York Times correctly noted that American TeeVee reporters were like giddy teenager girls on a sugar high at the mall. Sure the Royals relieved they don’t have to be “accessible” for the colonials and the working class for awhile – did you notice a few shots of Kate looking irritated, a nice break from that perpetual grin that Queen Mary would have loathed and that Anne eschews.

Rev. John P. Smyth who made Maryville Academy what it once was, a place that turned no child away (now a pale shadow of its former self—such a shame)  is one of the truly remarkable men you’ll ever meet. On June 9th 500 friends congregated at Gibson’s in Rosemont to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff had inspiring opening remarks as did the Bear’s Pat McCaskey.

Didya luv the revelation (or maybe not such a revelation) that that dictator Assad from Syria paid the American PR firm Brown Lloyd Whatever five thousand a month to get his wife into Vogue. You know journalists and publishers and promotional types really need to do some due diligence before they bow before the buck. Ya listening Anna? We always knew you could buy your way into society (whatever shreds remain) via print.

If the press not a watch dog who is? Wake up.

Shanghai Terrace

Spent another Julius Meinl breakfast idly counting the ad pages in the Big Two glossy social magazines, both of which have over 75 full pages, another 20 or so of half or quarter and well within the profit ad/copy ration range of profitability. We always used the 2/3rds ads, 1/3 copy rule when we edited newspapers. Glad they’re making it in this economy though please no more Celebrities in Our Town!. Emily Blunt looked lobotomized in that photo shoot and that other one Britanny or Bettany…….oh never mind!

Divine Alexander Payne is being celebrated at the Gene Siskel for his brilliant films with their insights into social class nuances in About Schmidt and Descendants alluring, two of our favorite films in recent years. You can keep Wes Anderson.

Dump Your Ivory. Last July in Philadelphia, US Fish and Wildlife officers made their biggest ivory seizure ever of approximately 1 ton of ivory; in August, a China-bound shipment from Tanzania was seized in Malaysia with 664 elephant tusks; China is one of the largest consumers of wildlife products.  In Chinese, “ivory” literally means “elephant tooth.” A recent study found that 70% of Chinese consumers did not know that elephants were killed for ivory and some thought elephants lose tusks like people lose teeth.


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