NATO Summit: Clinton, NATO Dignitaries Appear at Wrigley

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes her way into Wrigley Field on Saturday night. (Photo by Sean McDonough)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes her way into Wrigley Field on Saturday night. (Photo by Sean McDonough)

By Sean McDonough

(Story originally posted  May 18, 2012 on The Red Line Project)

The Red Line Project:  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in attendance Saturday night as the Cubs hosted the White Sox in a rare weekend night game at Wrigley Field.

Clinton is in Chicago this weekend to attend the NATO summit, which officially begins Sunday with meetings that continue through Monday.

Clinton arrived via motorcade nearly 30 minutes before the game started and was accompanied by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and General John Allen, the top U.S commander in Afghanistan, who threw out the game’s first pitch.

Clinton, a Park Ridge native and lifelong Cubs fan, waved and smiled at fans as she entered the ballpark through the Cubs executive offices entrance on the Southwest end of the field. Clinton proved her fandom by staying until the very end of the game despite her Cubs losing, 7-4.

As she departed, Clinton shook hands and exchanged words with groups of Cubs and White Sox fans.

With so many political powerhouses on hand, many thought that the Occupy protest groups would pay Wrigley Field a visit, but none showed.

But media outlets armed with cameras, hundreds of Chicago Police officers and the Secret Service did show. The police traveled in groups as they patrolled the perimeters of the ballpark. Even Garry McCarthy, superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, made a brief appearance to check in on his the officers.

Protesters weren’t the only thing lacking Saturday night. With the group of dignitaries in attendance, many expected Wrigley Field to feature tighter security, especially at the entrance gates. Instead, the Friendly Confines resembled its typical self as excited fans flowed smoothly through the gates to take in the ballgame on what was a beautiful, 80-degree evening.

Ticket collectors were not accompanied by extra security guards and there were no metal-detecting wands. Bags were searched, but that is common for MLB games.

The Cubs and the city announced on Thursday that several streets surrounding Wrigley Field would be closed as an added security precaution, but none were actually shut down except for parts of Waveland, Sheffield, and Addison, which are ordinarily closed to vehicles before, during and after Cubs games.

Police on hand were confused about which streets might be closed and what time they would be blockaded. Minutes before the start of the game, an officer admitted to an inquiring bystander that neither he nor his fellow officers had been notified about any street-closing strategy.

The relationship between fans and the police was civil and respectful. There were no clashes between the two, but one man was aggressively questioned by a group of police. The man insisted he was a reporter and that he was just doing his job. He produced what looked like proper credentials. Yet, he was thoroughly searched and taken away by the police for further questioning, only to be released minutes later and allowed to go about his business.

Few blamed the summit for causing travel pains on their way to the game.

Marty Grove, 49, was one of many who took a charter bus; Patrick Louie, 23, rode the red line; Steven and Shannan Bargle drove right into Wrigleyville. None of them expressed frustration about the summit for causing any travel inconveniences.

But on his way from Indiana to Chicago, 21-year-old Eric Fort said traffic from the summit caused an hour delay to his commute. As they spilled out of the ballpark, fans were in agreement that security precautions did not seem out of the ordinary and that Saturday’s game did not resemble anything other than a typical trip to Wrigley Field.

“It was nothing different than what we normally see at a normal Cubs game,” said Chris Quevedo, 27, a Streamwood resident.

“It felt pretty normal,” added Amanda Raddock, 21, of Chicago.

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NATO Summit:Q & A with DePaul’s J.D. Bindenagel, Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany

DePaul’s J.D. Bindenagel (Photo by Sean McDonough)

By Sean McDonough

 (Story originally posted May 4, 2012 on The Red Line Project)

The Red Line ProjectJ.D. Bindenagel served for more than a quarter-century in foreign service on behalf of the United States, including a role as acting Ambassador to Germany in 1997.

Currently the vice president for Community, Government, and International Affairs at DePaul University, Bindenagel shared his thoughts on the upcoming NATO summit, scheduled for May 20-21 at McCormick Place.

Q: Which major issues do you expect to be discussed at the NATO summit?

A: Specifically, there will be issues of course in Afghanistan: When we leave, what we leave behind, [and] what the role of NATO will be in the future is probably the leading issue that will be discussed. What’s happening in Syria and Iran will play a very, very critical role.

Q: What should Chicagoans expect?

A: These issues that we just discussed will put Chicago in the center of the world. “All the world is watching,” is what I like to say. They will be looking to see Chicago, never having seen what Chicago is and how it works and how we live. It will be a very good, strong way for Chicago and the people of Chicago to showcase the great city we have.

Click here for the full story.

The movies from a different view: The Brew and View

The DePaulia Online  (Originally posted on Depaulia Online on 3/19/12)

By Sean McDonough

Crowded theaters, tickets costing more than $10, and unreasonably priced popcorn and beverages are just a few reasons to give movie-goers pause when planning a night in front of the big screen. But if you’re still trying to have a fun evening at the movies and don’t mind being carded to see “The Muppets” or seeing a movie a few weeks after its premier, then the Brew and View could be the place for you.

You might question whether you have even heard of the Brew and View (3145 N. Sheffield at Sheffield and Belmont), but think again, especially if you have ever seen a concert at the Vic Theatre. That’s because the Brew and View and the Vic are one in the same – well, sort of. The Brew and View, characterized as “the Vic’s alter ego” operates mostly during weekday evenings and on Sundays when the Vic isn’t hosting a concert or comedy team.

Instead of a band, the stage is occupied by a giant movie screen. And in place of hundreds of screaming, dancing, raving, rolling concert-goers are circular, high-top café tables with accompanying chairs lining the theater floor. And really, that’s the only difference between the Vic and the Brew and View. There aren’t any decorations aimed to disguise the classical-looking venue’s red and gold-plated walls and balconies – it’s just a concert hall cleverly doubling as a movie theater.

The Vic Theater

The Vic doubles as the Brew and View during most weekday evenings. Picture by Sean McDonough

The Brew and View has familiar features to traditional movie theaters: the unmistakable aroma of buttery popcorn greeting patrons as they enter the theater; the sound of candy boxes being torn open; customers slurping soda cups, mixed with the dark, ominous setting are all reminders that you really are at the movies.

But what makes the Brew and View different is also what makes it so popular. Rather than paying $12.50 for a ticket at a conventional theater, the Brew and View charges just $5 for double and triple features (the crowd typically becomes more animated toward the second and third shows). And if you prefer a frosty-cold beer in place of a Coca-Cola or ICEE, well then you’re in luck because the Brew and View’s deal-breaking feature is its full bar, offering drink specials like $3 drafts as if the owners empathize with the pain our wallets feel when forced into shelling out $6 for a medium fountain drink at traditional theaters.

Moreover, the Brew and View turns dinner and a movie into dinner with a movie by providing guests menus from local restaurants where they can call in a take-out order and have it delivered right to the theater.

Consider the Brew and View a movie theatre for the college-aged and recent college graduates. If you’re still worrying about getting into R-rated movies, well forget about the Brew and View because proper 21-and-over identification is required at the door due to alcohol being served. The movies shown are typically recently-released ones or older comedy classics. For example, “The Muppets,” “Young Adult,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” comprised the triple-feature the week of March 9-15.

Jim O’Connell, a University of Illinois alumni and Lakeview resident, visited the Brew and View with a group of friends after getting tickets on Groupon.

“I absolutely enjoyed the experience. It goes in line with what I like about Clark Street, Belmont, and Broadway — that whole area has quirky, independent shops that make for a unique experience. It’s a great neighborhood asset, great for a cheap date, and a great place to relax with friends if there’s nothing really going on,” he said.

So if you don’t want to break the bank on an expensive date-night, head to the Brew and View for a cheap flick, a cold beer, and even a Domino’s Pizza in 30 minutes or less.

Chicago Sidelines essay: Rethinking DePaul’s move to Big East

By Sean McDonough

When DePaul University left Conference USA for the Big East in 2005-06, the move was generally understood by those who follow sports as a motive aimed to reestablish credibility to DePaul’s sports program, specifically its once-proud men’s basketball program. And since the Big East has historically been prominent in basketball, it seemed like a perfect fit.

But since its exodus from the now-evaporating Conference USA, DePaul men’s basketball has amassed a 25-97 conference record (a .205 win-percentage) in its six years in the Big East. Although DePaul has struggled mightily in with its premier sport since the move, DePaul’s move to the Big East in 2005-06 was certainly in the best interest of the athletic department as a whole, and for the university in general because of major benefits that stem from membership in a major conference, including increased media exposure and association with other member schools who excel in athletics and academics.

Currently, DePaul’s presence in the Big East isn’t entirely beneficial, and the institution and the conference are equally blameworthy.

Read the rest of the essay at Chicago Sidelines

St. Ignatius edges Gordon Tech in hard fought Catholic League contest

By Sean McDonough

It took a balanced scoring effort from St. Ignatius  forwards Peter Ryckbosh, Marty McClure, and guard Brian Howard for the Wolfpack to narrowly defeat their Catholic League North Division foe, the Gordon Tech Rams, 48-42 Friday night.

Prior to tip-off, the weather outside Joseph J. Gentile Gymnasium at St. Ignatius College Prep hovered around the high-teens and low 20s – a rare cold night, given this winter’s mildness. Unfortunately for Gordon Tech and the Rams’ sharp-shooter, David Andrews, the cold didn’t stay outside.

Andrews started the game in a funk and had difficulty finding any kind of groove during the game. The senior guard began the game missing his first four shots, all 3-pointers. Andrews finished the first quarter 2-6 from 3-point range, and ended the game 3-9  for 3-pointers. He finished the game with nine points.

Both coaches mentioned Andrews’ rare off-night following the game.

Gordon Tech (9-12, 0-8 Catholic League) coach Shay Boyle reaffirmed his belief that Andrews is still one of the best shooters in the league, despite his performance last night.

St. Ignatius (19-3, 8-1) coach, Richard Kehoe, also gave Andrews praise saying, “Andrews has made a career out of making 3-point shots.”

The three Wolfpack seniors, Ryckbosh, McClure, and Howard accounted for 36 of St. Ignatius’ 48 total points. Ryckbosh led the way with 14, while McClure and Howard each added 11.

On the other side of the ball, Devanchey Bell led the Rams in scoring with 22 points.

St. Ignatius’ six-point win was a far cry from the two teams’ last meeting on Dec. 9 when the Wolfpack handily defeated the Rams, 63-42. In contrasting the two games Kehoe noted his team’s inability to build a comfortable lead to fulfill its plan of putting the Rams away early.

After the game, Howard pointed to his team’s experience winning games this season when explaining how the Wolfpack were able to hang on to their lead.

“It came down to us being used to winning,” said Howard. “We know how to win,” he added.

Howard also pointed to the atmosphere on the court and in the stands, which according to him fueled his team to victory.

“We really enjoy playing at home,” he said.

Howard’s confidence in his own team was obvious. But he did not go so far as to discredit his opponent. Instead he complemented the competitiveness his division rival displayed on the court.

“They made us a better team tonight,” said Howard.

Both teams took their chances taking 3-point shots; however neither team really capitalized from their excessive outside shooting.  St. Ignatius ended the evening shooting 3-14 for 3-point field field goals, whereas Gordon Tech went 8-18.

On his team’s 3-point shooting, Coach Boyle said, “It’s one of our strengths,” which suggests Gordon Tech intended on taking somewhere near 18 3-pointers – they just didn’t account for missing ten of them.

On the other side of the ball, Coach Kehoe and Howard had conflicting views on their team’s shooting.

Asked whether so many 3-point shots were a part of his team’s strategy, Howard responded, “Yeah, definitely, we take a lot of 3-pointers. We take our shots.”

When asked the same question, Kehoe laughed and said, “Not necessarily,” and then added, “We made tough shots.”

Interestingly, the losing team’s coach was able to draw more positives out of Friday night’s game than the winner.

Kehoe, with an irritated disposition, likely a reflection on his team’s play, said curtly, “We played decently well down the stretch. We made enough plays to win.”

Kehoe added, “We won and we’re still in first.”

Boyle, on the other hand was more optimistic on his team’s performance.

“I’m very proud of our effort,” he said. “This game was a sign of progress.”

Even though his team lost, Boyle did not hesitate in classifying his team’s effort as, “probably the best game of the year.”

Boyle also noted the significance of his team playing so well against a Kehoe led team, whom Boyle described as a “mastermind.”

Boyle’s mastermind described the back-and-forth contest as a typical “competitive Catholic League game.”

Staffers at CSN Chicago offer insight, advice on industry

By Sean McDonough

Last Monday about twenty  online sports reporting students from DePaul University were treated to a tour of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  The trip gave the class an opportunity to witness firsthand the layout and function of a live newsroom. The tour was led by CSN Chicago’s  senior sports editorial producer, Chris Clark who spoke to the class about his career in sports media and also offered advice for future journalists.

The tour began once everyone arrived at the CSN Chicago headquarters. The first leg included a Q and A session with Clark.  Here Clark, a 1993 graduate of Southern Illinois University,  laid out the history of his career which began at AOL Greenhouse  and included stops at The Golf Channel and MLB.com, where he spent five years before landing at CSN Chicago.

“I love what I do, I’ve always been a sports fan,” said Clark, who grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago but admitted to being an avid White Sox fan despite growing up in Cubs territory.

Clark went on the explain his day-to-day duties as sports editor. Clark is essentially in charge of all content posted on CSN Chicago’s site.  CSN Chicago mainly concerns itself with covering Chicago’s major sports teams – Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks and Bears. Additionally, CSN televises games for each team with the exception of the Bears. Although television is a major component to CSN, Clark is almost exclusively concerned with the online aspect, conceding that he doesn’t have the face for TV.

Clark discussed that the goal of his online sports division is to present a wide array of coverage throughout the day. He pushes his writers to blog about 15 times a day on the team or event they are covering.  “We serve the fan,”  reminded Clark. And so far, Clark’s ambitions have paid off. This past December CSN Chicago attracted approximately 2.25 million hits, averaging about 85 thousand a day, numbers that according to Clark represent a “blockbuster” for the website.

Clark then focused the discussion directly to the audience, offering advice for the crowd of aspiring sportswriters. He urged the class to “intern like crazy” and to be open  to doing multiple things like shooting and editing video to make yourself attractive to possible future employers.

Kevin Anderson, CSN Chicago’s television producer, echoed Clark’s advice and went so far as to emphatically reach out the the crowd, offering his contact information  and urging  the students  to contact him for future advice.

“I don’t feel like I’ve worked a day my whole life,” said Anderson as he encouraged the crowd to pursue a career they truly love, as he did.

TastiChi Teen Owner Brings Food Truck Variety

TastiChi Owner, Chloe Shepherd speaks about her food Truck (Photo by TJ Horansky)

By Monica Kucera, TJ Horansky and Sean McDonough

Chloe Shepherd has a lengthy grocery list of things to do before she finally puts the key in the ignition of her food truck, TastiChi, which will hopefully hit the streets of Chicago this August.

No student would initially expect that the tedious work put into a stressful end-of-the-year class project would ultimately spark an idea for a business. At least this was the scenario for Shepherd, a 19-year-old Columbia College Chicago student, who used her final project for “shopper marketing” as inspiration for a launching a food truck that could be rolling down the streets very soon.

“I thought this could really work so I stuck with it and kept going,” Shepherd said. It was a project in which students had to create a business plan and present it to the class.

The name, TastiChi, was sparked based off Chicagoans’ passion and patriotism for their city. “I’m a native to Chicago,” Shepherd said, “And when I got here I noticed how much the people living here love their city. I wanted to play off that theme.”

In addition to providing Chicagoans a truck with a name they can be proud of, Shepherd also hopes to cater her customers’ needs by adding variety to the food she is serving. She said different meals will be sold daily.

“It’s more feasible to serve something different everyday,” she said, “Variety will bring people back.” The food will be “American-style based with a twist,” Shepherd said. “Think pulled pork sandwiches with a piece of grilled pineapple.”

Shepherd said she places a lot of trust in her chef, Jim Kilberg. He has worked all over the place including, New York and Los Angeles. “He knows what he’s doing,” she added.

Shepherd explains that it is not all as easy as it may appear, though. Since she is starting her own business at a young age, there are risks involved in the process.

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