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Make Big Plans: Chicago politics, culture, sports

Chicago stories and coverage by Elias Cepeda and friends undefined

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(We couldn’t find a silhouette of an African American getting metaphorically choked by Comcast, but imagine one in the above picture and you get an idea of what plaintiffs in the new lawsuit are charging )

Ever get the feeling that you’re getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop with Comcast products and service? Are you black? A federal lawsuit filed in Chicago Monday alleges that those two things are related, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The suit charges Comcast with discriminating against African-American employees of its South Side Facility and with requiring technicians to install defective equipment into Chicago residents’ homes.

“Eleven current and former workers in Comcast Corp.’s South Side facility are seeking class action status claiming that since at least 2005, the media company "has engaged in an ongoing pattern of race discrimination against African American employees” at its South Side location, according to the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  

The group includes 10 current employees and one former worker who was fired in 2009. The plaintiffs on average, have worked for Comcast for 15 years, the lawsuit says,“ Tribe staff reporter Corilyn Shropshire writes.

Through a spokeswoman, Comcast has denied the allegations and promised to defend themselves in court.  An attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit have set up a website, www.comcastdiscrimination.com where you can register your experiences with Comcast and seek legal advice, though you can’t join this particular lawsuit.

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

The Chicago Tribune reports: “Hundreds of people waited in line outside the Chicago Cultural Center on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon to pay their respects to former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley at a public wake and visitation.

The wife of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley died Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

The public wake runs until 10 p.m. on Sunday at the Chicago Cultural Center. A public Mass will be held at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Monday at 10:30 a.m.”

The Trib also reports that the Daley Family is asking that, instead of flowers, well-wishers consider making donations to After School Matters - one of the programs she founded and led - or the Maggie Daley Cancer Center at Northwestern University

For the full Trib Story, head to their site.

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(Yup. Photo from 2DayBlog.com)

The Chicago Tribune reports that a 28 year old man was arrested without incident after walking into the Harrison (11th) district Police Station with loaded AR-15 assault rifle and declaring martial law, shortly before 4a.m. this morning. So please, if it any other poor souls out there are confused, you live in Illinois, not ArizonaIllinois and Chicago gun laws are much different than our immigrant-loving, freedom-defending brothers and sisters to the west.

For more details, read the Tribune’s report.

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(The hosts welcomed their surprise guests with silent nervousness but thought, “What the heck, it’s just one dinner. It’s not like they’ll stay forever.”)

Food writer Louisa Chu has put her investigative reporting hat on today and revealed that the “pumpkin” pie you’re used to eating may not, in fact, be filled with actual pumpkin. Chu is not harping on whether or not the filling is organic, natural, or revealing the next great food additive scandal. It’s just that pumpkin cousin squash may have been filling in all along.

The “truth about pumpkin pie,” according to Chu? 

“It’s not pumpkin, at least not the adorable round orange sugar pie pumpkin of your dreams.Some  say that the pumpkin pie you’ve been eating should actually be called squash…Most of the p-pies you’ve eaten in your life have probably been made from canned pumpkin. And the most popular brand of canned pumpkin is Libby's . And Libby’s uses their own specially bred Dickinson’s pumpkin—and yes, some say it’s squash. Thanks to Libby’s HQ, Morton, Ill. is the pumpkin capital of the world,” she writes.“

Fine it’s not exactly a Squeaky Farms Brand Genuine Animal Milk, level deception, but it is fascinating. Read Chu’s full column at WBEZ and chime in. Does this change your perception of pumpkin pie? Let us know how you are dealing with the cognitive dissonance. 

   +  

= Classic combination

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(Josh McCown look-alike Ivan Drago)

Brad Biggs and the Chicago Tribune detail the newest Bear pickup, since starting quarterback Jay Cutler injured himself on Sunday.

The Chicago Bears didn’t get the quarterback they were waiting for Wednesday when Kyle Orton was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs, but they did get a quarterback familiar with Mike Martz’s playbook.

Check out the Tribe for the full story

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

By Elias Cepeda

WBEZ blogger and all-around advocate of Chicago history, John Schmidt brings attention to a wonderful book of photos and stories today in his column. If you love Chicago, old houses, or old Chicago houses - it would be strange if you loved one of those and not any of the others, wouldn’t it? - you’ve got to get over to your nearest library or kick-ass used book store (the book was published in 1941 and again in paperback in 1975) to find a copy of Old Chicago Houses by John Drury. After the jump, we’ll let Schmidt’s words wet your appetite, as well as give you links to a few of our favorite book stores in town. 

“In March 1939 John Drury began writing a series of articles in the Chicago Daily News about some of the city’s older houses. The articles ran a thousand words each and appeared weekly. Two years and 110 homes later, the material was gathered together in a book titled Old Chicago Houses.

This book is not an academic guide. Rather it’s a personal biography of each house–the people who built it, the various families who lived in it, what life was like in the area, and what the house is like today (i.e., 1941). All 110 houses are illustrated with contemporary photos. Drury includes the Widow Clarke House, Hull House, and other famous landmarks,” Schmidt writes today. 

Make sure to check out his blog for the full book review of Old Chicago Houses.

Three Bookstores you have to visit, for this book or for others:

Wicker Park: Myopic Books. Cozy, yet large. Well organized, and open late.  You also might just might run into the store’s resident kitten while reading on one of the couches.

Lakeview: Bookman’s Corner. Small, not organized, but so full of books they almost spill out the front door when you open it. Claustrophobic, absent service, hours of fun. 

 Pilsen: Biblioteca Popular del barrio. I’ve heard this shop described as an anarchist book store. If that’s what a store where the operators are laying down on a couch when you walk in on one of the few days they are open (they likely won’t get up once you’re inside either), then maybe it is. Regardless, or, as Chicago culture writer Casey Brazeal might say hate for you to say, irregardless, you can can find an impressively varied list of titles in both hardcover and paperback. Also, it’s surrounded by amazing taco joints (that’s another blog post) and across the street from our offices. + 10 for that.

See if these shops have Drury’s classic. If you must, go to amazon.com to buy Old Chicago Houses.

What are your favorite bookstores in the city? Let us know! #chicagobookstores

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Photo by ChicagoNewsCoOp)

In case you missed it on your way to the weekend, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a budget for 2012 last Friday. The County has a $315 million budget imbalance and the new budget seeks to address it with $50 million in new/higher taxes and fees. 

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was successful in rolling back sales taxes (the county’s part will drop by a quarter percentage on January 1) in the $2.94 billion budget but if you smoke or drink, you might still be a bit miffed. And if you’re one of the 800 county employees who will be laid off under the new budget, that’s especially bad because you’ll probably want a stiff drink or two…or eighteen.

The tax on a 24-pack of beer will increase by six cents and the tax on some bottles of vodka may go up by more than 50 cents. The cigarette tax will now also apply to loose tobacco and cigars (hipsters and fat-cats will share in the grief here). 

President Preckwinkle’s budget passed 16-1, with the lone dissenting vote coming from GQ Style Editor William Beavers

For more details on the budget passage, read Erika Slife and the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of it.

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoPhoto

Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler tries to make a touchdown-saving tackle after throwing an interception to Antoine Cason during Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers. The Bears won but Cutler fractured the thumb on his right (throwing) hand. He may be out for the remainder of the regular season. 

Check out the full game gallery from Nuccio DiNuzzo and the Chicago Tribune. 

makebigplanschicago-blog
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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoQuote

Sun Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman reports that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is dropping all three city members of of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority board, including a nephew of his predecessor, in a move with many potential ramifications. Read More

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is dumping all three city members of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority — including former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew — in a housecleaning that could set the stage to renegotiate the White Sox lease, modify its restaurant deal and, possibly, have the state acquire and renovate Wrigley Field.
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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(New Cubs manager Dale Sveum was an early advocate of Movember)

To all the Chicago Cubs baseball fans that don’t like Ryne Sandberg and have always wanted your team to be more like the Milwaukee Brewers, you’re welcome. This morning the Cubs officially announced that former Brewer hitting coach Dale Sveum will replace Mike Quade and manage the team next season. At a 9am press conference, Sveum already showed signs that his attitude may not be a good fit for the Cubs organization as he emphasized winning saying, "Excuses are a copout for insecurities.“ 

Here’s hoping that new President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has anticipated the culture shock that will be sure to follow after his decision to hire such a firebrand.  Sveum is a long time member of the Brewers organization. He played there and coached there, himself getting passed over for the manger job twice. 

Head to the Tribune for more

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

Thursday UFC President Dana White told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that the next UFC on FOX card will take place in Chicago. White says the plan is for a four-fight main card (last week’s FOX event only aired one, the heavyweight title bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, on network television), though he did not reveal what the main event will be. The UFC first and last held an event in the area back in 2008 in Rosemont, IL. though the now defunct WEC (which was owned at the time by UFC parent company ZUFFA) later held an event at the UIC Pavilion, headlined by Indiana native Miguel Torres. 

Check out the video interview for the full story. We’ll keep you posted with updates.

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

Our friend and Yahoo! Sports blogger Steve Cofield is reporting that the UFC is hoping to have their next big FOX card take place in Chicago at the United Center at the top of 2012. 

Multiple sources confirm that Jan. 28 is the target for UFC on Fox 2 in Chicago at the United Center. That’ll be followed by the Georges St-Pierre-Nick Diaz fight on Super Saturday in Las Vegas on Feb. 4"

It would seem that having the card take place in Chicago and having the main event be Silva vs. Sonnen II, are separate matters. It sounds logical that the UFC would want one of their major cards in Chicago - Dana White once told me that Chicago is their biggest pay per view market - but it no contracts have been reported as signed for the middleweight title rematch. Silva made Sonnen give up with a choke in the final moments of their 2010 title bout in the U.A.E. after having lost almost every minute of the fight prior. (Details plus video of Anderson hitting other people, after the break)

An immediate rematch was signed, but then it was revealed that Sonnen had failed a pre-fight performance enhancing drug test and so he was suspended. Sonnen then was convicted of an unrelated felony. With a recent win over Brian Stann (but more so with his tireless trash talk), Sonnen has seemingly positioned himself once more for a title shot. But Silva is currently recovering from an injury and has also expressed a reluctance to give Sonnen - a proven cheater in their first fight, who has acted very disrespectful towards Silva and owns only a one-fight win streak, while others, like Mark Munoz, have strung together four to five over top opponents - another crack at his belt, out of spite (think Jordan and Pippen’s keeping Piston Isiah Thomas from the ‘92 Olympic Dream Team).

UFC President Dana White has recently said that Sonnen would face Silva, it’s just not clear when. The UFC’s first ever Chicago-area event was UFC 90, which was held at the All-State Arena in 2008. Check out Yahoo!’s report and then enjoy this highlight reel of the number one ranked pound for pound MMA fighter in the world, Anderson Silva. What the vid lacks in music-synching to action, it more than makes up for in comprehensively chronicling Silva’s career highlights.


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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(Michael Jordan and UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva)

By Elias Cepeda

My friend Mike Chiappetta has an insightful article out today at MMA Fighting, comparing current MMA pound for pound king Anderson Silva with, in my opinion, the most competitive athlete we’ve ever seen - Michael Jordan.

Last week Anderson Silva’s friend and former training partner, middleweight contender, Mark Munoz said he wanted a shot at the 185lb belt - which Silva owns. For Munoz, it is a natural progression after four straight impressive wins. But for Silva, it’s a betrayal - of friendship and trust - in pursuit of personal glory. 

For years, fans and pundits have suggested that Silva is a bit sensitive. That he creates slights in his mind and gets too worked up over them. There are the obvious cases where opponents clearly crossed the line, ie. Chael Sonnen’s never ending delusional and racist taunts or Chris Leben telling Silva to go back to Japan to fight because the competition was easier there. Silva was angry then and clearly relished beating those two.

But in fights like those against Demian Maia and Vitor Belfort, Silva seemed to carry extra chips on his shoulder into the Octagon on fight night, despite the fact that it was a stretch for any outside observer to see any disrespect in Maia and Belfort towards Silva.

Anderson toyed with Maia for five rounds, battering, bloodying him and taunting him, apparently wanting the challenger to endure a full five rounds of humiliation instead of ending his suffering. Belfort, well, Silva arrived at the day-before weigh-ins looking and acting like a mentally disturbed person and then knocked Belfort out seconds into the fight with a kick to the head.

That this type of behavior from Silva has confused people has, well, confused me for years. As a Chicagoan and die-hard fan of Michael Jordan’s Bulls, it was all to logical and familiar to me. Jordan was a master of using obstacles and slights as motivation to win. And when no extra ones were there, he’d just create or magnify them in his own head.

What was Anderson Silva (L) thinking here? Maybe, “This is what I need to do to hype myself up into knocking you out in 95 seconds.”

Remember Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy suggesting that Jordan was a “con man,” in 1997? "He uses everything he has to his advantage, whether psychological or physical. He cons [other players] by inviting them to his movies. He cons them with the commercials. He pretends to enjoy guys like them and all he wants to do is win,“ Van Gundy said then.

When Jordan next played the Knicks he starched them for 51 points and loudly cursed Van Gundy out during the game, in front of a packed arena and millions of television viewers. 

Playing year after year, for long NBA seasons, after already having accomplished so much, being able to use perceived slights was instrumental for Jordan to retain his competitive edge. Anderson Silva has learned to do the same. He himself has been fighting for a decade and has been champion for five straight years. 

As Chiappetta astutely writes, "The greatest operate on a level most of us can never truly understand. The drive, determination and motivation to push themselves to a level that few possess comes from within, and is often powered by what we’ll call ‘alternative fuel sources. It’s not simply about proving you’re the best, it’s about shutting up the challengers and making believers out of the skeptics.”

Silva isn’t an overly sensitive baby. He, like Jordan, is a dominant champion. And to be a dominant champ you’ve got to be wired a bit differently than normal people. Read Chiappetta’s full story for more insight and examples of Jordan and Silva’s similarities as competitors.

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makebigplanschicago-blog·9 years agoText

(Photo from Heavy MMA)

By Elias Cepeda

I spoke with UFC lightweight and Chicago area native Clay Guida Monday for CagePotato to discuss his (hopefully) #1 contender’s bout with Ben Henderson Saturday in California on the UFC on Fox card. Clay is on a four-fight win streak and in his last fight he defeated the then #1 contender to the UFC lightweight belt and WEC champion, Anthony Pettis. Instead of a shot at UFC champ Frankie Edgar, Clay now has to fight the man that Pettis beat to win the WEC belt, Henderson.

Guida denied being frustrated by the circumstances, but its clear that he is using them as extra motivation. “Hopefully a big win against Henderson will put an exclamation point on me being the legit, number one contender and show (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva, (UFC President) Dana White, and the Fertita brothers (UFC majority owners),” Guida said.

To read the full conversation, visit CagePotato. Later in the week, we’ll have more exclusive words from Clay talking about his unique way of getting to fights, his new gym and more, right here at Make Big Plans.

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