Category Archives: Chicago Tribune

Hot-cha-cha Air

Ten Hut!

Ready for a chain reaction of idiocy?

Morton Grove is a comfortable suburb just northwest of Chicago, populated by devout Christians and Jews. And, I might add, pious followers of the American religion.

Morton Grove Sign

As in many such modest burghs, the municipal officials, members of boards, and heads of civic organizations in Morton Grove see themselves as something a bit more than the paper shufflers and ten cent soapbox orators the less enlightened of us might view them as.

When they look at themselves in the mirror each morning, they see proud, courageous, righteous bulwarks whose sacred duty is to protect America from ruination.

Where would we be without them?

To wit: a couple of months ago, renegade Morton Grove Park District official Dan Ashta decided to spit in the face of all that is right and good by opting to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance, the reciting of which kicks off that august body’s monthly meetings. Which only makes sense: after all, how can one plan for next spring’s Little League schedule without expressing solemn and sincere obeisance to this holy land?

Ashta is a constitutional lawyer and says his refusal to stand during the Pledge is an exercise of his free rights as delineated in that document. Whoa now, says the commander of the local American Legion post. Joseph Lambert immediately announced his group was withdrawing some $2600 of annual support it gives to the District to fund things like fireworks displays and holiday celebrations.

In other words, nobody’s going to have any fun in Morton Grove until that commie rat Ashta gets up off his duff.

Photo/Baltimore Sun

No Fun For You!

Makes sense, no? Why else would able-bodied young men march themselves into the meat grinder of war unless it was for the higher cause of ensuring that people hold their hands over their hearts while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?

It seems another bad man read of this teapot tempest and decided to throw his own anarchist’s bomb into the crowd. Hemant Mehta (clearly a foreign mole, right?), a teacher, blogger, and — gasp! — atheist from suburban Naperville, figured he’d subvert the will of America’s fightin’ men by raising the $2600 himself and donating it to the Morton Grove Park District.


Hemant Mehta

So, we’re back to square one, eh? Nay.

Mehta presented his check to the District at which point its executive director Tracey Anderson sent the dough back and said, essentially, keep yer filthy coin. Anderson emailed Mehta and at first told him the District was in no mood to get itself involved in any kind of First Amendment debate. Strange, isn’t it? Mehta’s cash doesn’t strike me as being particularly argumentative. Later in the email, Anderson seemed to reveal the real reason the District can do without the $2600.

As reporter Jonathan Bullington wrote in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune: “The email also says Park District officials do not want to appear ‘sympathetic to,’ or show a perceived position for or against, ‘any particular political or religious cause.'”

I have no way of knowing at this moment how much money the Park District accepts regularly from various churches, congregations, and synagogues. If Anderson’s rationale is to be believed, the figure would be precisely zero.

So, Morton Grovers are back to having no fun.

All because some troublemaker read the United States Constitution. The dirty commie.


The WFHB Board of Directors’ botched search for a general manager has cost the station at least one invaluable resource for the time being.

The Pencil won’t reveal this person’s name, but one long-time active volunteer says s/he will take a break from station activities for an indefinite period of time.

This person confided s/he doesn’t trust the board’s vision after the six-month fiasco that finally ended last week with the hiring of Cleveland Dietz.

The Pencil has spoken with this person and another key member of the WFHB community in the last couple of days. Both said they have nothing negative to say about Dietz and his performance as acting GM since the departure of Chad Carrothers in June, but the Board’s tabbing of him seemed “a copout” and “panicky.”

In fact, the latter of those sources told the Pencil s/he is thinking of asking for the entire board to resign.

The Pencil Today:


“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” — EB White


Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times found this passing so sad that he actually gave a plug (and a link) to his paper’s competitor, the Tribune. The Sun-Times as well as every other corporate media outlet in this holy land were scooped by a Trib reporter.

Facts, the reporter has learned, are dead.

We must face the facts: there are no more facts.

We all knew they were lingering for a long while now. Still, their demise shocks us. They suffered terribly. Thankfully, they are in a better place now.

Sadly, nothing I write can do justice to this mournful turn of events. So, read Rex W. Huppke’s final notice for these very dear old friends.



Hey, have you checked out the April edition of Ryder magazine yet?

In addition to all the usual invaluable arts and culture stuff, editor Peter LoPilato dispatched an intrepid reporter to delve into the private lives of the five candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Congress in Indiana’s ninth district.

“The Chair Recognizes The Representative From The Great State of Indiana.”

(By the way, reliable sources are saying the reporter is handsome and charming as well as being intrepid. The Electron Pencil is working to verify these statements at this time.)

Anyway, the five running in the Dem primary, May 5th, are Gen. Jonathan George, John Griffin Miller, Col. John Tilford, Robert Winningham, and Shelli Yoder.

I pooh-poohed Yoder’s candidacy in this space previously. I fixated on her background as a beauty queen. Now she has amassed a batch of endorsements from local political and private heavyweights. Shows what I know, no?

Proving Me Wrong?

The five candidates reveal themselves in the Ryder piece in ways they might never have imagined before they decided to run for public office. We learn for instance, whose father once caught a foul ball off the bat of Bill Buckner at Wrigley Field, who can actually speak conversational Comanche, whose first album was the Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow,” and who dreamed of being a member of Doctors without Borders.

Early Endorsement?

The grilling LoPilato’s ace reporter gave each of the candidates was so thorough that one admitted he was driven to tears (when he recounted his favorite childhood memory).

Pick up the Ryder today. Unfortunately, you can’t get the issue online yet. The Ryder’s long awaited internet presence still is nothing but a dream. If you’ve got a spare minute, drop Peter an email and tell him you’d love to see him step into at least the 1990s.

Oh, and ladies, that handsome, charming, intrepid reporter? Forget it — he’s happily hitched.


Speaking of fave childhood memories, here’s one of mine. I’d be able to stay up late on weeknights during summer vacation. WGN-TV would have two movies on after the nightly news. Between the two there’d be a half hour newsbreak called “Night Beat” featuring the somnolent Carl Greyson.

The poor guy — he could put you to sleep reporting on the end of the world. Then again, his hypnotic delivery might have been perfect for 12:30am.

The original theme song for “Night Beat” was this Dave Brubeck classic. It was my first introduction to sophisticated music. I was nine or ten and I loved it.

“Take Five” will forever remind me of those free, long summer nights.

%d bloggers like this: