Political satirist Mark Russell will be missed:
With his deadpan solemnity, stars-and-stripes stage sets and fusty bow ties, Mr. Russell looked more like a senator than a comic. But as the capital merry-go-round spun its peccadilloes, scandals and ballyhooed promises, his jaunty baritone restored order with bipartisan japes and irreverent songs to deflate the preening ego and the Big Idea.
Presidents from Eisenhower to Trump caught the flak. He sang “Bail to the Chief” for Richard M. Nixon, urged George H.W. Bush to retire “to a home for the chronically preppy,” likened Jimmy Carter’s plan to streamline government to “putting racing stripes on an arthritic camel,” and recalled first seeing Ronald Reagan “in the picture-frame department at Woolworth’s, between Gale Storm and Walter Pidgeon.”
Did he have any writers? “Oh, yes — 100 in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives.” The true meaning of the Cold War? “In communism, man exploits man. But with capitalism, it’s the other way around.” Gun control? “I will defend my Second Amendment right to use my musket to defend my Third Amendment right to never, ever allow a British soldier to live in my house.”
Buffalo Toronto Public Media, who hosted his comedy specials for many years, have put together a compilation:
Once again, I have too much to read:
Finally, it was 20 years ago tonight that Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley had city workers vandalize Meigs Field so that he could sell the land to his pals. The Tribune has a photo history.
I've had a bunch of tasks and a mid-afternoon meeting, so I didn't get a chance to read all of these yet:
Finally, close to me, after the lovely Grafton Pub closed last August, the Old Town School of Folk Music stepped in to buy the space. But that plan has hit a snag after a higher bidder emerged.
Merle Hazard, ladies and gentlemen:
Today is the 25th anniversary of the US Food and Drug Administration signing off on Pfizer's miracle drug, Sildenafil. The drug helped raise Pfizer's profits and keep them up for years, until competitors like tadalafil and vardenafil popped up and made significant market penetration.
And on the 5th of next month, WGN-TV in Chicago will turn 75. The eponymous World's Greatest Newspaper that owned WGN radio and TV for most of their lives, the Chicago Tribune, reminds us that WGN's biggest star for decades was a clown.
The Apollo Chorus annual fundraiser/cabaret is on April 1st, and tickets are still available. If you can't make it, you can still donate.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:
And finally, screenings of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, the new slasher pic featuring Winnie and Piglet as serial killers, will not be shown in Hong Kong and Macau, because Chinese dictator Xi Jinping thinks it's a jab at him. Seriously.
Cassie and I hung out for a bit at Spiteful Brewery yesterday. She, of course, got pats and love from everyone. But the couple sitting next to us had a Land Camera, so she also got photographed:
These are now on display in my library.
I refuse to purchase tickets from the Live Nation/Ticketmaster monopoly, no matter how much I love the act or believe that going to a show would bring about world peace. The Cure's Robert Smith makes it clear the artists themselves hate the monopoly as well:
Hours after Ticketmaster began the “verified fan” process on March 15 to distribute tickets for the band’s first American tour in years — an additional layer of security that Smith insisted upon to prevent scalpers and astronomical prices — the front man wrote an angry screed against the company for the mandatory fees they snuck in for buyers. “I am as sickened as you all are by today’s Ticketmaster ‘fees’ debacle,” he wrote in an all-caps Twitter thread. “To be very clear, the artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know … There are tickets available, it is just a very slow process. I will be back if I get anything serious on the TM fees.”
One particular tweet gained virality for showcasing the extent of the company’s malpractice: A fan’s reasonable ticket price of $20 was more than doubled due to processing fees and charges.
At least The Cure have enough clout to get some changes made. Ticketmaster backed down ever so slightly from the 110% surcharges after Smith's complaints:
“After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high, and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for the lowest ticket price transaction,” [Smith Tweeted]. “And a $5 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for other ticket price transactions for all Cure shows at all venues.”
Unregulated capitalism produces monopolies in short order; that's why we have regulation. But having a history degree means watching everything in the present rhyme with everything in the past. So while the monopolies of today have their moment or rapacious greed, I fully expect that we'll see some serious trust-busting soon, and then, 60 years from now, our grandchildren will have forgotten why.
As I'm feeling a bit under the weather, I will defer intelligent comments until later. Until then:
Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Greenwood Brewing, 922 N. 5th St., Phoenix
Train line: Valley Metro Rail, Roosevelt/Central
Time from Chicago: 3½ hours by air
Distance from station: 350 m
I walked just a couple of blocks from Pedal Haus and found the kind of taproom where Cassie and I would hang out often: the woman-owned Greenwood Brewing. I enjoyed all the beers and found their space comfortable and inviting.
Once again, I had a flight and took notes.
Emera Easy Hazy IPA (3.6%): fruity, hoppy, bitterness comes around the back, nice low-alcohol beer. Herstory Pale (5.5%): bursting with hops, long finish, well-balanced. Warrior Hazy IPA (6.5%): grapefruit, blackberry, Citra, balanced, nice flavor. Rosemary IPA (7.2%): wow, lots of complexity, depth, the rosemary adds something interesting, strong, lingering finish. On second tasting, even better. Yum.
The next evening, one of the partners in my company organized a brewery tour that included both Pedal Haus and Greenwood. I tagged along but didn't drink anything except for one Rosemary IPA. That would probably be my go-to beer in Phoenix if I were exiled there.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes