We sure don't like our wrinkles! After the on anti-aging goos, readers want to join the conversation. Thanks for your suggestions on other things to try (or reject). In the interest of all of us who want to remain young, here you go:Anna Gunter Kaplan, Rockford, Ill.: I enjoyed your column as I'vebeen searching for new products this past year as my skin hasbecome dry and those signs of aging, fine lines and creases haveincreased. I have auburn hair and pale, easily irritated skin. I'ma basic soap-water-go person so I wasn't enthusiastic approachingthe too many products on the shop shelves. These were myexperiences, much like your intrepid team. I tried L'OrealRevitalift at night. There was some skin irritation and temporarytightening. I finished the bottle and haven't replaced it. OlayTotal Effects 7 Signs Serum: it temporarily smoothed fine lines(2-3 hours). I finished the bottle and haven't replaced it.Strivectin: A friend tried it and saw no difference. I thought herunder-eye skin looked much firmer but she disagreed. ... Andfriendship is more important. There were other products like thoseabove I also tried and saw no difference, i.e. I spent too muchmoney this past year trying new products and none seemed toactually change the skin. Thus far, for maintaining skin my bestcombination for simply looking better is: Wash skin with Cetaphil,nothing else. Olay Daily Regenerating Serum, Fragrance-free: Iapply liberally after each face washing and reapply it if I'moutdoors. My skin absorbs it no matter how much I apply which is alittle scary as I wonder what's going on inside my skin. :) Itprovides a smooth skin base for applying my make-up. RevlonAge-Defying Makeup: This I endorse as it applies smoothly andlightly to dry skin and I found a shade that matches my complexion.It temporarily masks fine lines. So ... if I removed and reappliedmake-up at the morning and afternoon coffee break, I'd look"smoother" most of the workday. That's far too much maintenanceeffort for my taste. To reduce dryness, at night I apply KY Jellyto my skin around my mouth, chin, and around my eyes. The gel holdswater against the skin and the skin absorbs it and it's completelynon-irritating. Yes, it looks odd but who cares at night. If thisidea seems wacko, it was told to me by a hospital dietician; Inever would have thought of it myself! For overall dry skin, AvonSilicon Cream is the most effective and soothing cream I've found.And I try to drink lots of water. After this year ofexperimentation: my skin is softer, more moisturized but lines andcreases are still present! As Spring begins, I need to find a highSPF lotion that is non-gooey and non-irritating. I may have to calla dermatologist for that info. If you consider non-surgical medicaldermatology procedures, write a column about your team'sexperiences. Hope your intrepid team of explorers finds at least asmall, trickling fountain of youth. Let us know if you do!
Patrice Carden: I read your article "Fountain of Truth"in yesterday's paper and am compelled to write to you because I'vebeen in the same boat where "nothing works" %u2013 no matter howmuch you spend %u2013 and feel as if I could have written thearticle myself with the money I've wasted on bad products. I'm alegal secretary in the Loop and have no affiliation with skin carecompanies. I'm 47 and have been buying literally everything new inthe department stores for years, trying to find skin care thatmakes a difference. I'm providing you and your lady testers thename of the best product line I've found: "Juvenesse by ElaineGayle". I have been using her skin care for the past five yearsand, believe me, I wouldn't be going back to her if she didn't meanbusiness. My skin looks better than it did 10 years ago. She islocated on North Michigan Avenue and does not sell in thedepartment stores, but does have a large clientele ofdermatologists, and is very successful, I believe, in China. Herproducts range from about $40 to $70, but she does not advertise soyour money is all in the product. When I run out of something,after two days I notice a considerable change in my skin'sappearance and have to buy her products again %u2013 they are thebest. You will not be sorry with the results. If you're interested,her number is 800-949-1211. I have numerous friends who now use herline, and have a relative in Florida who actually calls Chicago forher products. I think I'd like to give up my day job and get intoher business because she makes a great product. She has a hugeselection of things, but I personally like these the best. 1. XLfirming serum (goes on like a liquid and totally firms and tightensyour skin in minutes -- the stuff is great) 2. XL co-Q10 wrinkleserum (lightweight cream %u2013 smooths out skin noticeably) 3.Creme de le Creme (great lightweight moisturizer, non-greasy,quick-absorbing, works great) 4. Microdermabrasion scrub (the BESTone-step scrub I've tried anywhere -- non-irritating %u2013 skinwill look wonderful when you're finished %u2013 I've tried lots andlots of scrubs similar to this) 5. Gelee (undereye gel thattightens and lifts) I hope I've contributed something worthwhile toyour study and hope you'll try these products. Would like to hearback from you ! (P.S. On another note, Estee Lauder's mascara"primer" I've just discovered, and it is the greatest thing sincesliced bread. Never thought I'd want to do TWO steps for mascara,but makes a huge difference, and you spend half the time actuallyapplying your mascara (use "More than Mascara" with it)! The primermakes the mascara just glide on beautifully and your lashes areliterally twice as long! Trust me on this one too.) (P.S. Maybe wecan get those cellulite creams to work now - eh???)
Mary: Just wondering if you've checked out Ahava'sTimeline line of products -- these are made with the Dead Seaminerals and salts. I love the face moisturizer and the eyemoisturizer. I can tell you that some eye creams definitely,absolutely work to keep the eye area moisturized while others donot. I actually started getting cracked skin under my eyes whenusing products I had used for a long time, like Aveda's eye cream.Clinique's moisture surge eye gel was the only thing I found for along time that prevented that cracking. I think this is unusual . .. I don't know why this happens to me, but the Ahava eye cream alsoworks well for me and I like it better. My skin is actually verywrinkle free and youthful at 52 -- which I think is genes, notnecessarily creams, but I've always moisturized well and stay outof the sun, never smoked, etc. But these Dead Sea products arereally different, and they really do have therapeutic results forpeople with eczema and other skin disorders. I think only time willtell with some of these products if they make a difference. But theminerals and salts are unique and medicinal . . . so I think theremay be something really genuinely good here. What do you think? Youcan even smell the sea in the face moisturizer. I'd like to knowwhat people think about Ahava or similar products with Dead Seasalts and minerals. A
Alice Alekman, Inverness, Ill.: I read your column todaywith a bit of interest. I have used Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv and alsoPerfectionist, both quite expensive, but I went back to -- andstayed with -- Olay total effects 7x. But I don't use the serum.What I use is just called "visible anti-aging vitamin complex" --it's a creamy liquid that comes in a squat bottle, rather than thetall serum bottle pictured. It's the same 1.7 fluid ounces, though,and while it seems to be "officially" priced at $18.99 (I think),it's often sold for a dollar or two off at CVS, Walgreens, andsometimes the supermarket. It certainly doesn't feel "too thick,"or make my face feel "weighted down," as Cassandra West said inyour article. And - here's the best part for you & yourconcerns -- it contains "broad spectrum UA/UVB sunscreen." I don'trecall ever seeing the serum. Maybe it's only sold at Wal-Marts andI don't shop there.
Leslie Hilmer, Stevensville, Ill.: I really enjoyed yourpage in the paper today. (Especially that you got Phil toparticipate!) If you want to see a nice difference in the looks ofyour skin I can recommend a few easy products that you didn't try.First Joey NY Collagen Boosting Moisturizer (there are day andnight formulas) give that a couple of minutes to be absorbed.Follow with Joey Line Up. You just need a little bit dotted on yourlines and give that a few minutes, too. Then, use some I.D. BareMinerals make up. Just buff it on and your skin will look fab! Onlytakes about 5 to 10 minutes total. I am 51 and these three productshave made an enormous difference. You can get them at Ulta.
Lauret MacLennan: Dear Wrinkleless Ellen
(From Ellen: I wish) To look younger I date veryold men. It's less expensive than the products and they pay fordinner.
Leon Greenberg, Chicago: As a man, I really don't paymuch attention to all the junk women insist on putting on theirfaces. However, after looking at the prices of these anti-agingwonder products, I must say women are absolutely nuts! $285 for alittle bottle f face cream? I think you'd be better off spendingthat on a massage and facial. Also, just wondering if (Tribunerestaurant critic Phil) Vettel was tasting the samples or wearingthem?
Baiba Kahn, Vernon Hills, Ill.: I read with interest yourtesting of the various products for anti-aging. I've tried a lot ofthem over the course of my life, but my all time favorite, and theone that I return to year after year for at least 15 years now, hasbeen the AVON line called "Anew". It is truly a miracle in a jar. Iam 61 years old and my face is quite smooth and wrinkle free. Ofcourse you can tell that I am an older person. When I first startedusing it years ago, even my husband noticed a difference afterabout a week or so of my using the products. He is not veryobservant like that. Anyway, I thought you might like to know.
Candy Renwall: LOVED your article in the Trib today(especially Phil V. as resident male tester) and ran to thecomputer to share my thoughts before my biz day got away from me.Timing of your article just had to be fate because yesterday I gotan email from a colleague of mine who pitched me on an idea she hasfor a new business called "The Makeover Store" : A one-stop shoplocation providing "vendor neutral" recommendations/guidance on thehundreds of products being marketed for skin and hair (a take offon Sephora's concept but with professionally trained staff and nocosmetics for sale). What obviously is driving the venture iswithout a doubt the biggest challenge these days for women youngand old, and just what your article drilled down to: Wading thruthe massive onslaught of new miracle claims for anti-aging, tryingto figure out a) what the ingredients are; b) what the ingredientsdo/don't do; c) what they'll do to your skin; and d) all of theabove%u2026and then some. InStyle's annual best beauty products hitthe newsstands yesterday so that might be worth looking at for afollow up article. Another source that would be worth looking atwould be Paula Begoin, the so-called "Beauty Cop". She wrote thebook called "Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me"%u2026 itwas great but she lost a bit of her "neutrality" when she latercame out with her own cosmetics product line. Nevertheless, heronline newsletter still gives in-depth, biting analysis of whatproducts will and won't do for women. Worth a look!
Inez Yablong, Wilmette: I have something that will work.My dermatologist recommended ROC which I buy at Walgreens and Ilove it. My grandson said, "Grammy you used ot have 1,00 wrinklesand now you only have 900." I do not have as many deep wrinkles onmy forehead. Tell your readers about this. Also, just wondering if(Tribune restaurant critic Phil) Vettel was tasting the samples orwearing them?
Cherre Neitzka: I did not see that you rated UniversityMedical's Freeze Cream. This product's advertising indicates thatit works in minutes. I was intrigued that they would claim this soI tried it. Yes, it works in minutes. My 60 year old face withlines and creases experienced major improvement in minutes. Myco-workers did double-takes. They were amazed. I am amazed andstill use the product. It can be found in most Wal-Mart stores for$18.00.
Thea Potanos, Oak Park, Ill.: Fun column, but you didn'ttest some of the anti-aging products that DO work - Retin A andantioxidants like Prevage (prescription strength, not the stuffEstee Lauder sells) and Skinceuticals Vit C AHA serum. Generally Idon't waste my money on pricey (over the counter) OTC stuff aftertrying La Mer, which I found out is just a really nice, expensivemoisturizer, nothing more. Instead, I go to a cosmeticdermatologist. No Botox yet. I use a prescription skincare linecalled Obagi NuDerm which incorporates Retin A, and for me it hasworked wonders. Generally it takes about 6 months before you seemaximum improvement with stuff like Retin A, Obagi and goodanti-oxidants. Another good (pricey and SMELLY) product that worksis TNS recovery complex.
JC, Chicago: Contrary to your findings, I've usedStiVectin for 2-3 yrs and it DOES work for me.
Cynthia Pike-Fuentes: I LOVED your article today and itcould not have been more timely. Just this morning, I was wonderingif the $100 bottle of Skinceuticals firming cream really did morethan the Olay Regenerist or the Revlon with botafirm or the Roc"serious wrinkle" cream (not that any of them did much). A coupleof months ago, Fox Chicago did a comparison between Roc and LaPrarie (about $200) and two out of the three testimonials said LaPrairie did a better job (and it sure looked that way on camera!)So I suppose I'll keep trying. Like you, being an "aging" (and Ican barely admit that) Baby Boomer in a youth obsessed culture isquite a challenge. I am 46 and have two children, ages five andthree. And I will NOT allow anyone to think that I am a younggrandmother! So the quest in haircolor, anti-aging serums and agood diet and exercise program continues. I look forward to yourfuture columns.
Ann Baker: I enjoy you column - you remind me of one ofmy high school friends - a compliment! Anyhow, this week's was veryinteresting. Women of all generations have spent inordinate amountsof money and time fighting the natural aging process. There is somuch money to be made with the "I deserve to have it all" BabyBoomers it is frightening. I was blessed to have grown up knowingmy grandmother and mother who both embraced aging as a god-given,hard earned time to reap the benefits of a life well lived. Neitherwore makeup except on special occasions, both lived the "everythingin moderation" credo, and used common sense for every decision.They were spiritual, funny and lots of interests to keep them busy.Everyone commented on how beautiful they were - their inner beautyradiating. Granted, I wish my mother was a little better aboutexplaining some things (shaving legs, tampons, etc) but I realizeas I head into my 42nd year (and am struggling with the haircoloring decision) and my shelves are not lined with age-defyinglies that hopefully I will slip through middle age and beyondeating right, doing yoga, enjoying life and hope for the best! PS.I was carded at Dominick's a few weeks ago! - although my husband,always the skeptic, questioned the IQ and visual abilities of theperson.
Eric Smith, Chicago: I use Iman skin care products dailyto maintain my youthful look. She has a multi-step program thatincludes a soap, toner and moisturizer. And I have to say, it keepsme looking 7-10 younger than the rest!
From Ellen: I usually don't post obviously commercial pitches but thought these two were worth telling readers about in case they want to branch out in your search for the Fountain of Youth.
Linda M. Davis: Wheaton, Ill. Found your article onage-defying products very informative. Seems to be all the ragelately. I am a Skin Care Consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics andwondered if you have had the pleasure of experiencing ourage-defying skin care products? The Mary Kay experience is designedfor each product to work together with each other. Reasonablypriced, our program is a PH-balanced one that is quick and easywith wonderful results. Of course, consistency is necessary. Eventhe overnight miracles need to be repeated every day! Once in thehabit of the Mary Kay routine, you will be very pleased. We can saythat because if you are not completely satisfied, we offer a 100%money-back guarantee. I am trying to make this short...I am sureyou are receiving lots of e-mails. I would like to add that I am 53years old and have used Mary Kay Cosmetics since I was 28! Peoplehave never guessed my age correctly. I am faithful to my programand because of that I feel I am fighting the aging process everyinch of the way! If you are have tried Mary Kay in the past, butjust wasn't completely convinced, please give it another chance.Our program has changed dramatically in the past few years. Ourproducts are better than ever and easier to apply. Whether is bewrinkles, or just needing a special 'glow', we have something foreveryone. My daughters are ages 24 and 11 and they are both MaryKay girls with beautiful complexions. My website:www.marykay.com/lindadavis
Lynn Quinn: Good morning Ellen- I enjoy reading yourcolumn. I especially enjoyed todays column on miracle anti-agingproducts.... I have to share a secret with you.....ArbonneInternational is the way to turn back time!!! You should try it. Iswear by it, as do my customers. The NutriminC RE9 containsantioxidants like Vitamin C. It also has Alpha Lipoic Acid, KojicAcid, Copper, Peptides, Alpha And Beta Hydroxy acids. Ingredientsthat work and you can visibly see a difference. It is alsoreasonably priced, botanically based, with a nice smell of VitaminC...no fragrance or chemicals! Consultant, Arbonne International,630-961-1622, www.Arbonne.com
Shop Happy! EW
March 20, 2006 12:41 PM CST: What's Cookin? Lovin' it!Thanks to all of you readers who are picking up on my passion forsaving money. Responding to the on shopping forcooking gear with Scylla restaurant's chef /owner Stephanie Izard,I got some good tips on bargain shopping. Plus...other kitchentips. Read on:
Toni Vacca: We have a great le creuset outlet store herein Wisconsin at Prime Outlets (not very far from Chicago). Theyhave seconds as well as first quality goods, with an extra discountif you buy 5 or more pieces (they count a lid as a seperate piece).I got a wonderful dutch oven there for a great price. Added bonus;they sell the best cork screws I've ever used. I get them as an addon present to a bottle of wine. For more info check out this cookware outlet website.
Diane Minarik : I love your weekly adventure; I learnsomething new all the time. You also perform a real service forthose of us who enjoy shopping at "non-chain" stores. Concerninghot-air popcorn poppers: Jewel food stores also carried them asrecently as two years ago when my sister and I purchased them.(They may still carry them, but then again, I'm not on the lookoutfor them now). If I'm too lazy to pull out the popper, I've found aquarter cup of popcorn in a brown paper "lunch" size bag, in themicrowave on "high" setting for about 3 minutes (you must watch itlike a hawk) will also produce pretty good results. Shop Happy!EW
February 27, 2006 3:04 PM CST: Shop 'til you drop Readerswho--like me--had shopped for bargain caskets responded to mycolumn on with suggestions of their own. Heregoes:
Diana Gadek : I purchased a beautiful cherry-wood casketfrom Monastery Caskets, located in Bridgeport (Chicago). I foundtheir site on-line. Their showroom is at the monastery, theirdelivery is free and it was delivered to the funeral home within 2hours of purchase. One of the delivery persons was a Benedictinemonk! The best part was the wonderful experience my sister and Ihad purchasing the casket for our deceased mother. Also, the monkssent us a sympathy card and will pray for our mom. The caskets arehand-made by the monks and are available in various woods andstain.
Connie Witkowski: In your search for caskets, you maywish to consider a Trappist casket made at the New Melleray Abbeynear Dubuque, Iowa. The high quality caskets are made out of woodin walnut, oak or pine. http://trappistcaskets.com/products.aspand http://www.newmelleray.org/ arethe sites to look on. We have been to the Abbey, discovering itonce while going on an adventure and also recommend a visit there.Shop Happy! EW
February 16, 2006 10:07 AM CST: Valentine's Gift Ideas StirReaders' Ire When i was writing about , itnever crossed my mind that readers would take me to task on thesubject of adultery. I was suggesting presents for a whole range ofValentine's--somebody you're about to dump, a longtime honey, amistress or paramour, etc. This prompted a good-natured exchangewith
Millicent Millner who wrote, "You might not be endorsingadultery, but to suggest spending $59 for the bargain price on yourlifelong partner and $1200 on your mistress?? Ouch!" She'sabsolutely right. I suggested sale-priced cashmere sweaters foryour squeeze of many years and absurdly ovepriced overnight bagsfrom Louis Vuitton for the trysters. So, let's hear it forfidelity! And, I wholeheartedly endorse lavish spending--Tiffany'sanyone?--on the man or woman who has stood by you through theyears. Then came this
e-mail spanking from
Pat Sirchio: "Ellen, enjoyed reading your article thismorning 'How do I woo thee?' until I got to the part 'formistresses and paramours.' Yes, I know they exist but did you haveto put suggestions for jerks who play around? Have you any idea howhurtful infidelity is? I have witnessed my friends marriages andfamilies breaking up over unfaithful husbands, leaving them withthe kids and bills while they spent so much money on thegirlfriend. I know you meant it light heartedly, but I fail to seeany humor in it at all. By the way, where was any reference towives? Oh, I guess it's on page 6, just above romantic suicide. Howabout next time giving spouses ideas to warm up the old flame, likekindnesses, and little sweet efforts to show how much love theirstill is in their marriage?" In my defense, I also suggested that you buy your longtime partner an iPod and download some really wonderful romantic tunes. My choices (thanks to my spouse who knows his love songs!) featured Chicago artists singing world-class melodies: /i> How Deep is the Ocean? ( Irving Berlin) Artist:Audrey Morris, acc. by Joe Vito, from "Round About" (Fancy Faire)The Very Thought of You (Ray Noble) Artist: Kurt Elling,from "This Time It's Love" (Blue Note) Lucky To Be Me ( Betty Comden- Adolph Green- Leonard Bernstein) Artist: Jackie Allen, from"Never Let Me Go" (Lake Shore Jazz) Two Sleepy People (FrankLoesser- Hoagy Carmichael) Artist: Frank D'Rone, from "After theBall" (Verve) And one more recommendation that I should have put in the paper for your long-suffering spouse: A sweet, handwritten note telling your beloved why you still adore him/her is the best present of all. And it doesn't cost a thing. Shop Happy! EW
February 1, 2006 12:03 PM CST: Skin dry as the Sahara?
Man is there a lot of scaly Komodo dragon skin out there in the world! And lots of good reader suggestions for other things to try to ease dry skin--beyond those I wrote about in my recent of lotions and potions. Glad to pass along a whole slew of good ideas. Jo-Ann Jahant, Winnetka: I read every word of your article from Jan. 26. An interesting observation: My husband (86 years old) has terrible excema and I have been trying different lotions over the past few years. This year is particularly bad and it's curious as it has not been a cold winter. I have been using the Eucerin you picked as Best Bet on his legs and arms. I looked on the ingredients listing and it does not contain percatolatum that Dr. Sharma recommends. So I'm switching to Vaseline Intensive Care Fragrance Free and will see if that helps my husband. I also have excema but not quite as bad as he does. I've been using Vaseline Intensive Care Fragrance Free and it's been keeping my scratching at bay. An additional question: I'm allergic to all fragrances (with the exception of Carmex which I love). Does the Heel Rescue, Superior Moisturizing Foot Cream that you recommend as Best Bet for Feet have a fragrance? I've spent so much money on foot creams that I can't use because of the smell. I have to buy them to open the package. Thanks. P.S. Pretty Feet is still the Best Bet for me. It's a great sloughing agent and the smell is not attrocious. Jo-Ann Jahant Winnetka, IL Starwhite2@aol.com Barbara Porter: Great topic! And much needed! I thought, perhaps, however, that you had the experience I have had of looking for things at Walgreens. I find so many private label creams and lotions it is difficult to find what I am most pleased with: Vaseline in a tube and Vaseline "Deep Moisture" Creamy Formula. The first is Vaseline that is easy to use since it comes from a tube. It can be used without digging fingernails into it -- great for bedtime or for putting on feet, or anywhere. It's not at all like digging into a jar! The second is white and creamy and seems to do a very good job -- good for daytime (or bedtime). It "heals severely dry skin, gives 18 hour moisturization, is fragrance free, and has Vitamin E". These are both inexpensive and seem to do a great job. I don't have any interest in this company, just thought you might like to look them over. Thanks for the interesting column! Paul Woelbing, Carma Laboratories, Inc.: Thanks very much for the nice mention. In addition to thanking you I wanted to let you know that we also make two stick forms of Carmex with SPF. The first has an SPF of 15 and the second has a peppermint flavor and SPF 30. My grandfather was the inventor of Carmex. One of the things that he stressed was the importance of answering every letter that we receive which I do personally. For a number of years we had been receiving two requests %u2013 one for the addition of sun screen and the other for a stick so we combined the two and came up with what we call the click-stick. The reason that we call it this is because we noticed that in other stick products a tendency for the product to inadvertently "screw up" and stick in the cap when carried in a pocket. To correct this we have added a "click" or detente to prevent any unwanted movement. Walgreens Drug Stores which is one of our oldest business partners carries all four forms of Carmex: original jars, squeeze tubes, click sticks with SPF 15 and the peppermint flavored sticks with SPF 30. Noelle Snow, Deerfield, Ill.: Having super dry skin myself I found this week's column especially interesting (I burst out laughing about the Bag Balm). My baby has inherited my very dry skin and so far we have used Eucerin (works OK), Aquafor (does work really well at night but it is the consistency of Vaseline and feels icky on your hands after applying it) and now our pediatrician has recommended Vanicream (1 lb jar is $12). She says it's behind the counter at the pharmacy, not on the shelf... not sure why. We haven't tried it yet, but the price doesn't seem too bad. I also noticed they carry a lip balm - Vanicream Lip Protectant SPH 30 $4.49. Personally I have been really happy with Blistex Complete Moisture with also has a SPH - 15 I believe. Margaret Bassett: I enjoy your Thursday shopping features. I like to use cocoa butter and my children seem to tolerate it(no alcohol sting). I was also a big fan of Burt's Bees lip balm, until I realized it had comfrey as an ingredient. (I even called corporate headquarters, and they were rather glib about it.) I have switched to Aveeno positively radiant lip enhancer. It does a good job of moisturizing, I'm not sure about "enhancing." Jahn Andrews: Hi Ellen! I work for Beiersdorf, the makers of Eucerin and Aquaphor. If you enjoy the Eucerin Plus lotion, you might like to try the Eucerin Plus hand creme and foot creme. They all contain sodium lactate to exfoliate and urea to moisturize. The composition is different for each to enhance the body part that they affect. We also make an ointment called Aquaphor that is fabulous for dry lips, minor cuts and burns, diaper rash and any cracked skin. Love hearing about your shopping expeditions. I am an avid shopper and look forward to your column each week. Janice Sachen: Read your article in the paper and want to tell you about a great product that you overlooked. I have very sensitive skin. A friend turned me on to Udderly Smooth, similar to udder balm (Bagbalm) but not as greasy. It comes in lotion and cream form. It has a light fragrance, goes on smoothly and is readily absorbed without leaving your skin greasy. I first bought it at Walgreens in a 2 oz tube for $4.00 (it comes in spotted cow packaging just like Gateway computer packages) and found it in the body lotions section. Then I found it at -- of all places --Menards Hardware in both the lotion and cream version, larger versions for less money. Seems as though contractors like it too because it works well and doesn't have a strong fragrance. You can also purchase it on-line. I keep the lotion in the kitchen and the cream in my bathroom and in the bedroom. It even works wonders on my exzema since one of the primary treatments is to keep the skin moisturized. It's great! Jim Wilson, Chicago: I was just wondering if you considered Archipelago Botanicals' Soy Lotion Milk when doing your piece for Thursday's Trib? If you haven't tried it, it's available at Mertz Apothecaries on Lincoln, or in the Mertz section of the downtown Marshall Field's. It feels wonderful, and leaves no residue on the skin at all. The aroma is pleasant and unobtrusive. Barring evidence to the contrary, I know of no better hand lotion, and I know people who use it as a whole-body lotion. Shop Happy! EW January 26, 2006 5:52 PM CST: Readers fave products for dry skin Gretchen Patti: $75 for a bottle of "hydrating" olive oil?? Please. The best moisturizer I ever tried is plain old olive oil. As long as it's nice & fresh, the scent is wonderful. Pour a little into your palm and smooth it on - face, hands, wherever. The texture is silky & luxurious, and the price is right! Of course, you'll want to tissue off the excess... For the very best results, slather it on at night after a nice warm shower, massage it in, and then go to bed all slippery. In the A.M., the slipperiness is gone, and you'll be astonished at the supple, velvety texture of your skin! Here's a kicker - King David commended olive oil as a cosmetic! Psalm 104, verse 15: "...olive oil to make the face shine..." Now THAT'S product placement.
Ellen replies: Although my husband makes huge jest of it, I use extra virgin olive oil on my dry, curly hair. It helps and the price is right! My spouse says,"Why don't you throw a few croutons in there?" But seriously, I have heard it does great things for the skin too and that Mediterranean women have know this for ever....Ditto, apparently King David. The olive oil smell does bug me and I buy concentrated scent (Tatine on West Division St. has a good selection) and throw a little in the bottle or the Misto (a oil sprayer customarily for salads but I use it on my hair...buy them at Bed Bath & Beyond etc.) and its great. Thanks for writing. EW Lisa Cepolski : After reading your article on saving winter skin this morning, I had to drop a note about my favorite body moisturizer. I can't remember if you are a chocolate fan or not but I found a shea butter concoction that smells like chocolate/cappucino/vanilla/Christmas holiday scent. It's Tree Hut Brazilian Nut Shea Body Butter, found at Ulta. It's the thickest I've found and it works great on hands and feet. It's a very unique scent that I can't quite describe and its about $7.00 for a 7 oz tub. It also comes in Coconut Lime and Mango scent but the Brazilian Nut is my favorite. My hands still smell like it the next morning! Also love the basic Ulta lip balm that's about $2.00, lasts a long time but no sunscreen! It came in Hot Cocoa and Peppermint scent over the holidays, of course loved the Hot Cocoa! No, I don't work for Ulta! , as a SAHM of 2 boys I've got to do all my "beauty shopping" at one place and Ulta is very convenient for me. By the way, love your shopping column every Thursday! It's a great coffee companion before the kids get up! Lee Katman: the BEST lip balm is Karite Lips Available at Whole Foods (and other places I am sure) Cheryl Dohrmann: My skin is extremely dry and I have 2 products to recommend. Years ago my dermatologist said Cetaphil was great for dry skin. He was absolutely right. I buy it at Cosco for about $12 for 20oz. and my husband and I can use it for months before we run out of product. It goes on lightly and there is no fragrance. The second product I use for my feet. It is Burt's Bees Foot Cream. Right after I take a bath I scrub my heels with an emery file and then apply the cream. It really helps. I thought the article was really informative. David Andrews: %u2026 I had always suffered from itchy skin from allergies and sun exposure until about 20 years ago when I found the Kiss My Face line of products (available at Whole Foods)-- using the Olive Oil soap and the Olive & Aloe moisturizer, I can abuse my skin (I live on Gages Lake in Lake County and spend lots of free time on the lake or in my yard lawn tending) with NO ill effects at all. (I am 74.) Camille Blachowicz: Ellen,Ellen,Ellen, I enjoy your column but you really missed the best for dry skin, Neutrogena Body Oil. This oil (non scented or lightly scented) goes on after bath or shower and is somehow NOT greasy. You can also put it in tub water and I also put it on at night before I go to bed and give it a little buff before slipping into the sheets. I am a woman of a certain age and am continually told by massage therapists, doctors, chiropractors, etc (not to mention my hubby) that I have the skin of a much younger woman. they are all converted!! It's also very inexpensive. Give it a try. Nicole Eagen, Blistex, Co.: Hi Ellen, You may want to work on your journalistic skills. Blistex, a Chicago based company wasn't included in your article 'Saving your winter skin.' Karin Matusiak, LaGrange, Ill.: Good morning, I just read your article about moisturizers and wanted to drop you a line. A month or so ago I came across a cream that is like nothing I (or my skeptical husband!) had ever thought existed. He has had a extremely itchy back for years and we have tried many different products in a many different price ranges and nothing seemed to work until now. The product that I am referring to is RevitaDerm. I was getting a manicure at my local salon and my manicurist was chatting about how they cannot keep the product in stock. Of course, I was skeptical but thought I'd give it a shot for my dry legs and my husbands back. After two days of using it neither one of us could believe the difference. My husband is not constantly itchy in the dry weather (we haven't used it during the summer yet) and my legs no longer feel the like sand paper. I haven't used it for over two weeks and the results are still amazing. I am not sure how to purchase this product other than through the business I did it through, however, if you are interested, I would be happy to pass on their information. I enjoy reading your column. Keep up the good work! Judy Frank: As I shrivel up like a prune in the winter and slather on too much goo (that doesn't work too well), I loved your article today. I do plan on purchasing the "best bet" products. However, you left out the face and hands. Mine could use help too. I am sure I am spending much too much on Georgette Klinger's products at around $50. I would love to find a cheaper product that does the trick, so maybe you could address this problem at another time. I would certainly appreciate it as I am sure your many readers would. Love your column. Judi M., Chicago: As far as lips go, Neosporin Lip Treatment. is the best for cracked and really terrible chapping. It does not contain an antibiotic---has vitamin E. olive oil, petroleum, cottonsead oil...has no smell, no taste and cleared my problem in a day. Rosemarie Getty, Libertyville, Ill.: Two years ago I bought a wonderful lip balm at the Museum Gift Shop in Olympic Village, Salt Lake City. I haven't found it in drug stores or sporting shops in the Chicago area,. It's called Pedro's LIP SCHIT - a sunscreen lip balm SPF 15. I have tried Burt's Bees & ChapStick, but LIP SCHIT is the best. I order the citrus flavor, which is not strong. At night I use Vaseline Advanced Formula Lip Therapy, which is slightly greasy, but feels great. Sandra Romashko, Wheaton, Ill.: I read with interest you article on dry skin creams in today's Trib. I have had dry skin all my life with complications from eczema as a child, and psoriasis in later life. So I have virtually tried almost everything that claimed to solve the problem. After much experimentation, I have found an inexpensive solution that really works, for me. I mix a jar of Vaseline (13 oz) with a tube of zinc oxide (2 oz). I do this in half batches, starting with a half full Vaseline jar in which I mix and store the concoction. An old table knife works extremely well for mixing the salve. This mixture is not as greasy as it sounds, and is quickly absorbed by the skin. I use it on my entire body except for my face and have no problems with chapped heels and elbows, my skin is smooth and most of my psoriasis is gone. I use it every night and after my morning shower when I am just going to knock around in jeans or sweats. If I plan to wear dressier clothes, I use Vaseline body oil after the shower. And by the way, I lived in Miami, Florida for 30 years and the sun, salt water, and salt air really make your skin dry. Laurie Drew: Love your articles (the shoes!) and you really got the dry skin lotions correct. Wanted to let you know Eucerin also makes another product (an ointment rather than lotion, so maybe that is why it did not get a mention) called Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Some might think it on the 'thick' side, but on your feet, overnight (socks recommended) it's works wonders. Auqaphor has no fragrance, so even my husband and son use it! I also love Neutrogena Body Oil, the original light sesame formula. Right out of the shower, your skin will feel like silk and smell delicious. I even like this one in the summer. Looking forward to next week - Ed, Southern Ill.: Thanks for the tips. I get a terrible *ankle/lower calf itch*. I try to find things with Aloe in it. Walgreen's Vitamin E with Aloe Vera Skin Oil works for me. A little dab'a do ya. One thing you probably should have mentioned. Humidity.......I have an analog and digital humidity indicator in the house. The digital has a little smiley face/frownie face that trips to frown at anything below 45%. I use a water humidifier (24/7) from Sears in the center of the house in addition to the one built in the furnace. The one in the furnace (and its a quality unit) just will not keep the humidity above 45%. If the outside temp gets above 50 I also open the house briefly and dump all that stale air through an attic fan. It is a real hassle but those are things that can be showstoppers for dry skin itch. By and large it seems like Walgreen's carries some good products. Felice Shiroma, Chicago, Ill.: Thanks for the article on keeping yr skin moisturized. I highly recommend Lotil cream for those painful skin cracks you get around your fingernails. (available from Vermont country store catalog). Barbara Jarrett: I went through the great hunt myself a couple of years ago. I noticed my choice wasn't on your list at all. I use Gold Bond Ultimate. It's the best stuff I've found and at around 10:00 a bottle is worth every penny. It's great! And it never leaves my skin feeling greasy. I swear by this stuff and I tried most of the so-called best ones out there on the advice of my doctor. Eucerin...*ewww* and *yuk*. That was on my doctor's advice. That stuff was flat out nasty and left me feeling sticky and greasy. It was also very difficult to apply even to wet skin. I had to rub so hard it was causing additional irritation. I also like Wal Mart's brand that's equivalent to Lubriderm. Not for the hands though except at night as it is a bit greasy. But it's ok for skin that isn't in dire shape. But I swear by the Gold Bond. It works and works for a long time. You're not constantly reapplying it. Most moisture treatments leave me feeling dry again after several hours, especially my legs right after shaving. But the Gold Bond stays there and stays working. It's great! Jane M. Kaup: Ellen: just read your article on Saving Your Winter Skin and felt I must tell you the best way to have smooth, silky, shiny skin. I had dry (pale Irish) skin for years until I discovered Cetaphil Moisturing Cream in the white and green plastic jar. It works miracles and all my friends have become addicted to it as have I. You must put it on immediately after you jump out of the shower and towel dry. The best deal on it is at Costco for I think $9.99 for a 20oz jar. It is not greasy, does not leave a film, is fragrance free and your legs in particular will be silky and shiny. When I went for my annual physical in the middle of Winter my doctor was so impressed with my moisturized skin that he now keeps a jar of Cetaphil in his office to suggest it to patients who complain about dry skin. My nail technician swears by Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Foot Cream so I started using that at night and sometimes in the morning if I am wearing trouser socks. My feet are like satin. Same for you hands at nite - the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. Hope this helps in your search for smooth skin products. Oh, and the best cure for those cracks in your fingers - Super Glue! Works like a charm.
December 23, 2005 4:57 PM CST:
Wake planned for New Year's Eve as reporters mourn the death of Chicago's fabled City News Bureau
THIS JUST IN... Services for Chicago's City News Bureau,the 115-year-old wire service that was the starting point forhundreds of American journalists, will be held New Year's Eve inthe Billy Goat Tavern, lower Michigan Avenue and Hubbard Street.The wake begins at 8 p.m. Arrangements are being handled by PaulZimbrakos, CNB editor; Sam Sianis, Billy Goat propietor,and BernardJudge, former City News editor. All present and former CNB staffersare welcome, along with spouses and friends. First drink is on thehouse for those who can prove they were part of the finestjournalistic training ground ever devised. CNB ceases operation at12:01 a.m. January 1, 2006. If you need more information--really,the above is everything you need to know-- you can call BernieJudge at 312-644-7006.
December 16, 2005 2:39 PM CST:
Remembering City News
Here's a sample of the recollections from across the land from alums and friends of the City News Bureau of Chicago. Keep them coming to email@example.com and I'll post them as they come in. Kelly Scala Langan , Pursuit Manager ,Marketing & Business Development - Midwest Deloitte Services LP, Chicago, CNB 1994-1998: There were so many great memories at City NewsBureau, it's hard to pick just one. Here are a few greatest hits:1. I was covering a serious fire in Rogers Park and the FireDepartment spokesman on hand told me that one of the victims was"Code Black" - aka dead. I later found out from the hospital thatthe victim had, in fact, improved from dead to "fair condition." 2.While working the second shift at 11th and State, I was phoning inreports about a fatal fire in a small south suburban town with avolunteer fire department. Dan Haar was managing the desk at thetime and commanded me to ask the head of the volunteer group "ifthey even tried to save the victims." I was panicked, but stillasked the question. 3. I covered the Betty Loren Maltese primarycampaign victory and requested an interview with the incumbent TownPresident. I was told to hold on and that I would be notifiedwhether my request would be granted. Later, a large gentleman letme know that I was in luck and escorted me to the coat closet atthe banquet hall - a fully made-up Betty was waiting for me inside.I wasn't sure whether I was going to be let out of the closet afterthe interview.
Barry Felcher, Michigan City, Ind.: Of all the coronercases I worked on at City News during 1966 and 1967, one standsout. The case was given to me by Dornie as female baby, fall. Headded the address on the North side. I called the mother from theEast Chicago Av. police station. She explained that she had lefther baby on the upper floor back porch, then went into the kitchento cook. The baby then managed to crawl through the wooden slats inthe porch and fall t her death. The story doesn't have any unusualtwist or kicker. After all these years I can still remember thefamily's name and how the mother sounded on the phone. I remembersaying to myself, 'What am I doing in this business.'
December 12, 2005 2:58 PM CST:
Deborah Lowe, Professor of Marketing, San Francisco State University: I started at City News Bureau in 1968, out ofcollege with a year TV experience, but nothing prepares you for thefirst months doing police reporting out of 18th district. We werepaid 90 dollars a week to not only cover murders, rapes androbberies but also courts. The first day on the job, the person whotrained me taught me to get to the court shortly before noon so theJudge in charge would buy any reporter there a sandwich. We were sopoor, all of us lived for ways to make ends meet. After covering18th district for three months, the cops discovered I waited forthe bus to take me down to 188 W. Randolph street in the morningand they would stop and pick me up and take me down there saving mea quarter for the bus ride. After arriving in a paddy wagon onemorning, when I got upstairs, Larry Mulay said, "are we not payingyou enough money to take public transportation? I saw you gettingout of a paddy wagon?" I told him that "no, he wasn't paying meenough money." So he told me he would give me a ten dollar raise ifI would stop using police cars like a taxi. I took it, but then hadto stop the cops from waiting outside to give me a ride back. Mulaysaid it gave the wrong image for city news. It was fourth areahomicide that was the real lesson in reporting. Dornie had me go into get a story from an old homicide detective that hated city newsreporters. The detective literally threw me out of his office threetimes. I finally called Dornie and he told me to go back in andtell the detective we would do an empty chair interview. That iswhere we put a chair in front of the person's door and then ask thechair questions that do not get answered but make the person lookbad. The detective caved and I got the story. City News Bureau wasan education. The cops would try to lure you out with fake stories.One favorite was to let the "new" city news reporter overhead astory about a head that was found with no body. I didn't fall forit but a lot of people did. It was the best reporting experiencethat prepared you for almost any story. I went on to becomeWestinghouse Broadcasting's first woman anchor at WOWO radio, and anational correspondent for them for the Patricia Hearst trial inSan Francisco. At that trial I met an old city news reporter whowas working for a wire service. I said to him, "still using thatfake police badge?" He grinned and said, "yeah and you are the onlyone crossing my path getting the same information." We both didvery well with what we learned at City News. It helped get mepromoted. In the following years as I moved from reporter to anchorto news director. I was news director at KYA and the ABC owned andoperated station KSFX in San Francisco. I went on to get adoctorate in business and now teach graduate Internet Marketing,Advertising and Public Relations at San Francisco State University.Although I changed fields, I do not regret a moment of a 15-yearcareer in journalism and broadcasting that I would not have hadwithout the training I got during the year I spent at City NewsBureau. The news of it being closed down gave me a feeling ofprofound sorrow and regret that other people will not get thechance to learn how "real" hard news is covered%u2026I oftenthought we should have paid them to do it after I got intoeducation. Maybe that's what they should do in the nextincarnation. Open it up as a reporting school and charge money tohave people do the same thing.
December 8, 2005 5:57 PM CST:
Jim Ascher, CNB 1955-56: I was at City News 1955-56,which I left to join ABC-TV. I went on to the Foreign Service(USIA) in 1962 (quite willingly seduced by the then irresistibleKenney edy/Murrow combination), had two initial assignments inVietnam (Hue/Saigon) then numerous others overseas and inWashington DC before retiring in 1982. I then went to law schooland have been practicing law in Washington State ever since. MyCity News experience was pivotal (hired by the legendary Issac(Ike) Gershman), at a time when I didn't know what to do with mylife. My City News experience both decided me and well prepared mefor what came after. What a pleasure it is to read all therecollections of so many who served long after my time.
Kareesa Wilson, New City News, 1999-2001: Nothing couldhave prepared me for city news. I reported for my first day of workwith only two years at a very small Wisconsin daily under my belt,no college education. I'd grown up in a town of less than 10,000and made the leap to Chicago to work for city news. Talk abouttrial by fire. It poured rain my first day of work, I didn't knowwhere to park, so I wound up walking blocks in the rain, arrivingsoaked. It didn't faze Paul Zimbrakos, or Woody Hoffmann. I don'tthink anything would have fazed them. Paul just looked up, a littleamused, his mustached twitched, he gave me directions to policeheadquarters at 11th and State, and sent me on my way. I hated citynews for months, then thrived on it. It was either sink or swim....no sliding by, no excuses. The "Desk" did not suffer fools, orincompetents, gladly. City news was my education. Better thancollege. I learned .... do it right the first time, flowery writingbelongs in a garden, today's triumphs are forgotten tomorrow, workhard, live poor, laugh a lot, hang up the phone without sayinggoodbye, the morgue guys are the best show in town at around 5 a.m.(as long as you bring them donuts), doing the Daybook puts Dante's"Inferno" to shame, and city news reporters don't get sick. Citynews was one of the few places left where a person like me with nocollege education had a chance to learn on the job. At city news, acollege education was an accessory, not a necessary. It was a levelplaying field: everyone started a rookie, left a veteran. Thanksfor everything.
December 8, 2005 11:47 AM CST:
Jason R. Meisner, New City News reporter, 2002 - "the end": I knew I was in for it during my second interview with(Bureau Chief) Paul Zimbrakos, when he looked up from my resume,crooked an eyebrow, and said, "So, you've never covered any hardnews?" I was a bit flabbergasted, since my resume detailed myexperience as a grad student covering hearings at 26th andCalifornia, the transportation beat, and Jesse White's victory inthe 1998 primary for secretary of state. I pointed all of this outto Paul, only to have him chuckle and say, "That's not hard news."I thought he was wrong, but accepted the job when he offered. Lessthan a month later, there I was on my first big scene as a CityNews reporter, snot streaming from my nose, my hair whipped into aridiculous poof, clutching a notebook in freezing fingers andtrying to gather information about a 30-foot stretch of scaffoldingthat had blown off the Hancock Tower and crushed several cars onMichigan Avenue. Three women were dead. The wind was blowing 70mph-plus and the temperature was dropping by the second. Thousandsof people were watching as firefighters cut the victims from theflattened cars and 60 floors up the remnants of the scaffold werestill twisting and smashing out windows. I guess I learned that daywhat hard news really is. Where else but City News could I havebeen working as overnight editor when a tip came in thatconstruction equipment was moving on Meigs Field? I'll never forgettaking the dictation from my reporter, Peter Beller, who had scaleda fence at Monroe Harbor and was screaming into his cell, "I seebackhoes and bulldozers%u2026They're tearing up the runway!" Thestories and experiences are gold. My thanks to Paul, (City Editor)Woody Hoffman, Wayne Klatt, Gary Meacham, and every other CityNewser who taught me what I could never have learned inJ-school.
John Schmid, Economics Writer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CNB 1985-1988: Many of these names are familiar, theirsentiments, too. My feelings echo Adam Weintraub, who I knew fromthe CNB graveyard shift, who wrote: "I still use what I learned atCity News every single day." It's not only the skills I learned butthe love of the trade.
December 7, 2005 12:26 PM CST:
Bob Roberts, of WBBM Newsradio, Chicago, known as Bob Rodenkirk at City News, 1974-1977: How many broadcasters do youknow who ask the spellings of names, who need to know whether thataddress is a street or avenue, or who try to find out what a crimevictim's parents did? It's part of my mantra, and it's my City Newstraining. It was two years, nine months and two weeks of occasionaljoy, great coworkers (heck, Maury Possley was one of my editors!)and almost constant terror interspersed by moments when I thoughtmaybe Dad was right and that I should have tried law school despitea sheer loathing for the clerking I'd done at times during college.Today, I wouldn't trade my City News experience for anything. I wasthe last City News reporter to be hired by Larry Mulay and thefirst to start working under Jim Peneff. The first week, when theytook me around and showed me the beats to which I could aspirebefore relegating me to midwatch police duty, was actually fun.Mike Powers was the criminal courts reporter, and he had me sit inwith him on a hearing in which the defense attorney (I believe itwas Rick Halprin) argued that his client was subjected duringquestioning to cruel and inhumane treatment, and was even deniedfood. An officer took the stand and testified that he hadpersonally given the prisoner White Castle hamburgers. By the timeit was done, Chief Judge Richard Fitzgerald had ruled that"sliders" did not constitute food. I thought I was going to lovethe job. Then, in the first hour of my first day going solo, apolice officer was gunned down on my beat. His name was RobertStrugala. It was a Sunday in June of '74. The gunman killedStrugala and wounded his partner before officers who heard thegunfire and saw the partner fall onto the street came to their aid.He'd only been on the job for a year. I remember dashing down thestairs from the license unit at Maxwell Street station and headingto the scene with a grinding feeling in my stomach. I must havelooked like a cop, because I actually made it into the crime sceneand talked with a witness before someone figured out I was areporter and threw me out. That was fortunate, because no one elsewanted to talk with me the rest of the day. My initial flush ofsuccess turned to frustration as the day wore on. Sure enough, thenext day, I heard from Paul Zimbrakos for the first time, "ButBob..." I had come to City News with several professionaljournalism awards, won while working for the Daily Student andstudent radio at Indiana University, but by the end of my secondday at City News going solo I wondered if I was really cut out forthe job. Such was the frustration of breaking in at City News then,and I suspect, even today. It took me a month to not feeloverwhelmed and three months to feel comfortable. By the six-monthmark, I felt I had mastered the art. Many times since, I havecounseled brand-new City News reporters to stick it out, no matterwhat, for at least six months, because it would be worth thequestions and tirades from Paul. Many did. Some didn't. I certainlylearned resourcefulness. There was the time that I ducked out earlyfor lunch on one particularly slow night working the "Hyde Park"(south) police beat out of the Brighton Park station at Pershingand California when I walked over to the McDonald's on Archer for aburger, and spotted a tower of smoke as I came out with my bag ofburgers. It was a two-alarm fire just off Archer. I grabbed thenotebook out of my back pocket, found the battalion chief, andlearned that he had just called in a 2-11 alarm. I dashed for thepay phone at the McDonald's and called the office immediately, inmortal fear that I'd be discovered. Midwatch editor Wayne Klatt wason the other end of the phone. He'd put out the bulletin fiveminutes earlier, chewed me out because I hadn't answered my phonein the license unit, and hung up -- before I could sputter anythingabout the details. I had to call him back (in that era, I was paid$120 a week and we only received $2 of expense money per day, so Itried to avoid using the pay phones) to let him know I had thestory. Only after I gave him the facts did he reconsider havingchewed me out. I told him I saw the smoke at Area 3 and dashed outthe door. He told me to call before leaving next time. That wasclose. I remember watching President Nixon's resignation speech onthe TV while working midwatch Central in the press room at 11th andState. The Trib's crusty police reporter, Joe ("I'm a personalfriend of Clayton Kirkpatrick") Morang, proclaimed, "Those idiotliberals have just cost us the best President we've ever had, andone of these days they'll realize it." Sure enough, Wayne Klatt hadme call around to police stations to see if any officers wouldcomment on Nixon's resignation. Joe would buy us sandwiches from abar on Wabash each night, so long as we picked up his sandwich aswell. I never quite understood how Joe could call on the press roomPAX line, pose as a police officer, pull it off and get a storywhen I'd call saying I was from City News and they'd say thedetectives weren't back yet. I figured then that when I becameexperienced enough that I, too, would be able to use that charade.It certainly wasn't what I learned in journalism classes at Indianaand Northwestern. There were some who tried to hide the fact theycould type from Paul so that they'd avoid teletype duty. After agaffe on the radio desk, when I mixed up a defendant and a witnessin one of my summaries, and had to put out a dreaded "City Newsregrets the error" three hours later after the threat of a lawsuit,I found myself on teletype for three weeks before Paul would trustme to work as a nightside cops reporter again. Those piano lessonsas a kid saved my job. In the end, all was forgiven. I was giventhe job of midnight shift editor, which only proved one thing: Icould type fast enough to do both my own rewrite and teletype, ifnecessary. And, as luck would have it, that's what happened. I wassaddled with an overnight Central reporter who was also a full-timestudent and slept most of his shift. I knew it because we weregetting scooped and I was catching hell again from Paul. I hadworked hard to get back to the editor's desk after that demotionand I wasn't going to let it happen again. So, I deployed myrewrite guys, Kevin Boyd (he later won a Pulitzer in Florida, Ithink) and Michael Harrington (later a community activist), to ratthe guy out. It took three weeks, but Paul eventually noticed thatvirtually all the overnight copy had Boyd and Harrington's names atthe top of the page, and not the Central guy's. The Central guy hadto find another place to sleep for pay. I see that another of myCentral beat reporters, John Fennell, now has an endowed chair atMissouri. It's a great school, but I still say City News was thebest journalism school you'll ever find. And you were paid, to boot-- just enough for beer after work, but that made what now seemsstrangely romantic to be tolerable. I was honored to be in the CityNews office at 35 E. Wacker Dr. when the last dispatch was sentearly March 1, 1999, admitted because I was an alumnus. I'd lost mypartner of 15 years to cancer six weeks earlier, and I wasn't surewhich I would miss more. The "New" City News allowed broadcastnewsrooms a false sense of security. Now we really will have to doit ourselves. Can those of us who once heard the mantra, "If yourmother says she loves you, check it out!" teach it to others?Perhaps, but it won't be the same. Maybe Paul will retire. Maybe,if some newsroom is lucky, he'll go to work somewhere else. I'llhate having to compete against that newsroom. That will be thenewsroom to watch. December 6, 2005 5:23 PM CST:
And these recollections...
Mike Kennedy, CNB 1979-83: Random CNB tidbits --My firstweek began with a visit to the Morris Fishbein Institute ofForensic Medicine, aka the morgue, and the smell lingers with me 25years later. The week included a 30-minute conversation with a manwho described in detail how his wife died of a drug overdoseearlier that day, (The desk's reaction: "Cheap it out." Click.) anda debriefing with a group of homicide detectives who shared with metheir rankings (and detailed rationale) of the various female CityNews cop reporters, including the one who was training me that day.The week ended on Navy Pier as a crush of reporters tried to listento Bill and Walter interview former Mayor Mike Bilandic while Koko Taylor sang "The Thrill is Gone" a few hundred feet away on theChicagoFest Blues stage. --My first weekend shift soloing aseditor. Nothing much had happened overnight, so nearly two hourshad gone by and I hadn't moved any copy. I was beginning to doubtwhether I had what it takes to be an editor (copy, as it turnsout). Finally the Central cops reporter calls in a pending ME case.(Can you tell the age of a CNB alum by whether they call them MEcases or coroner cases?) I think a guy died falling down the stairsThe kind of story I cheaped out dozens of time during the week. Butnot that day. I told the rewrite that not every story is ablockbuster, and I really really would like a story before he wenthome. He wrote a six-line beauty (one of which was "The body wastaken to the Fishbein Institute") and I was officially an editor.--Another weekend editing adventure: Persuading one of Chicago'sFinest not to lock up one of my reporters. No Judith Miller/FirstAmendment battles; just a guy who was out at lunch and got toolippy with a cop after being pulled over for running a light. Thereporter was looking at an afternoon in the 18th district lockupand I was imagining an uncomfortable call to Paul about bail money,but I talked the cop into putting the reporter on the phone, andsummoning all the fake supervisory skills I had as a 22-year-old,scolded the reporter and made him apologize to the officer, who waslistening on the extension. --True or not? Didn't happen to me, butan editor too eager to pass on chatter from the police radio, hopson the phone with this urgent information for the police reporter:"Dogs in the alley--no address." --One Saturday night I got a callfrom the guy working the midwatch desk He must have been toofreaked out to call Paul, so he called me first. Mayor Byrne--hewas pretty sure it was her, but this was so bizarre--she justcalled and said she is going to move into Cabrini-Green. Should werun it? I don't remember what I told him (probably something alongthe lines of "you better be sure that's it's really her"), butlater that night driving (to a City News party), I had WBBM radioon waiting to hear something. Normally, City News gets no credit ormention for the hundreds of stories that were read on that andother broadcast outlets, but this one started: "Here's a strangestory that the City News Bureau is reporting..." Well, they gotthat right. But it was accurate. --An accounting temp who did theCNB books for a while embezzled something like $30,000 and wascharged in federal court. The guy pleaded guilty and at thesentencing, the judge took the opportunity to rip into City Newsfor sloppy business operations. As I remember it, there were onlytwo spectators in the courtroom--me and Bernie Judge, who wasrunning CNB at the time. We went back to the press room, and as Idictated a story, Bernie paced in front of my desk, periodicallyinterrupting, "You're putting that in?" To his credit, he let thejudge's tongue lashing stay in ----I detected some coldness on thepart of some of the rewrites those first few weeks. I initiallyattributed it to the gruff, boot-camp reputation I had heard about.Eventually one of them asked me the question: "Are you one ofthem?" One of whom? "The Kennedys." No, not those Kennedys. "Sorry.We thought you might have been." They still had a bad taste intheir mouth from Bobby Shriver, who was one of those Kennedys andworked for City News for a suspiciously short time beforethe(Chicago) Daily News hired him (at a time when a direct pathwayfrom CNB to the city's newspapers had mostly dried up). It was agood example of the chip on the shoulder that City News folks woreas a badge of honor--we got little pay, very few "attaboys, "norespect from cops, government officials, other reporters (exceptthe few alums who knew what we did), but if you needed to findsomething out quickly and accurately, we were the ones who did it.A few years later, I was covering a mob trial in the federal court,and during jury deliberations, the New York Times guy, soundinglike he had slept in, called in to the press room. Mike, what'sgoing on?" Wouldn't you like to know? Some people never will.
December 6, 2005 10:38 AM CST:
Lee Vivanco, Reporter, San Bernardino Sun. New CNS 2000-2003: When I first heard about City News closing, my heartsank. Right above the computer screen in California where I readthe news on-line was the famous City News mantra taped to mymonitor: If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Whereelse could a 23-year-old cover a presidential visit, talk about theSox with Mayor Daley in the press room before a council meeting andrush to a 3-alarm fire all in the same week in her first job out ofcollege? City News helped me discover how much I love being a cityreporter. Editors Paul Zimbrakos and Woody Hoffman have molded meinto the reporter I am today. Whenever I ask city officials now"How much will that cost?" and "How are you going to pay for it?"it's because that was pounded into my brain the first week Icovered Chicago City Hall. I had that beat for two years and lovedevery minute of it. I felt honored to learn how to be an aggressivereporter from the Tribune's Gary Washburn, Sun-Times Fran Spielman,WBBM Bob Crawford, and WLS Bill Cameron. As a City Newser, you wereprepared to write about anything and everything and go anywhere toget the story - that meant all over the city and at all hours. I'mprivileged to have worked there and I still miss it.
Maurice Possley, Reporter, Chicago Tribune, CNB 1972-76:I echo all the comments about what a place it was to learn so muchabout how to report the news. My first story ever was on my firstday on the job and I got the dregs from the reporter I was trainingwith--Bob Margolis. It was a burglary in which a perpetrator hadbeen caught walking out of a building with a tv in his arms. Ofcourse, I thought it was pretty cool that the cops caught someonein the act and was revved up. Wayne Klatt told me to turn in mynotes to Tony Campbell on rewrite. I was so proud of this story. Itwas August and the CNB offices at 188 W. Randolph St. were notair-conditioned. Campbell was working past his shift--without pay,I am sure. I could hear the typewriter keys clicking as I began tounload my notes. Then there was silence. I stopped and waited.Finally, an extremely agitated Campbell said in a voice sointimidating that I involuntarily leaned back from the phone in thepressroom at police headquarters, "So this is just a cheapburglary, right?" I gulped. "I guess so," I said. "But they caughtthe guy. In the act!" Campbell then unleashed a torrent of cursewords that I could not have imagined and hung up. I was afraid togo home. CNB was the place where I called on a coroner case--ateenager whose body was found on one of the lower roof levels ofthe Conrad Hilton Hotel. It appeared to be a suicide. But I had tocall just in case he was the son or relative of somebody important.I criss-crossed the address, got a phone number and called. A womananswered. "I am a reporter for City News Bureau and I am trying toget some information on (put a name here)," I said. "Oh," she said."I am his mother. He's not home from school yet. Can he call youback?" I hung up the phone, preferring not to be the one to breakthe news. But this was the place where you figured out if you hadthe guts to ask questions that weren't going to be well-receivedand if you couldn't do it, well, then time to figure out anothercareer. Two weeks later, another coroner case, this one a 40ishwoman with a natural cause of death, but listed as an Italianrestaurant on the South Side. I was on the mid-watch and I couldn'tgo home until I cleared this case with the desk. Kept calling andcalling and finally, someone answers at the home of the dead woman."Hang on a minute," a man said. A few seconds later, a man picks upthe phone and identifies himself as the woman's husband. "I workfor City News Bureau and I am looking for some information aboutwhat happened," I said. Long pause."She was a middle-aged housewifewho dropped dead waiting in line for a pizza?" the man snarled."Are you satisfied?" I, too, dreaded the scoop spike on the edge ofPaul Zimbrakos's desk--the stories clipped out and pasted into onelong stream with little red X-marks covering information that thecompetition had gotten that were not in my stories. And worse, thentrying to figure out a way to do a second-day story to recover theinformation, some of it so seemingly so inane that I wanted to tearmy hair out. CNB was where I misspelled the name of the wife of aChicago Daily News editor when I wrote her obit. I thoughtZimbrakos's eyes were going to bulge out of his head. It was whereI learned that I had a heretofore hidden talent--I could run theteletype machine with very few errors. As a result, I spent ninemonths on the overnight shift and also learned the real meaning ofthe saying: "Never do a bad job well." I learned how to disciplinemyself, patience, and the art of dealing with cops, publicofficials, mourning relatives--the gamut. I learned to listen.There were exciting times. There was covering the federal courtbeat when there were three simultaneous trials--Tom Keane and PaulWigoda, two of the elder Mayor Daley's pals, and Earl Bush, themayor's press secretaary. There was covering a mob trial in whichone of the defendants was Tony Spilotro (who with his brother,Michael, would later be murdered and buried in a cornfield inIndiana) and coming home from the trial after having moved to OakPark and finding Spilotro sitting in one of my neighbor's back yardalong with Joey "The Clown" Lombardo. I made friends for life. Ilearned I loved the business. There is hardly a day that goes bythat something I learned at City News isn't put into play somehowin my work. Last year, my daughter, Maura, got hired at City News.I had encouraged her to apply, but said nothing to Paul. Sometimelater, he stopped by my desk at the Tribune and said, "I am goingto offer your daughter a job. But I want you to know you hadnothing to do with it," he said. "And she is going to have to worknights.""I wouldn't want it any other way," I said. "I had to doit. Why shouldn't she?" I looked in the eye of the man I oncefeared like no other--a man I have come to love and respect, notfor just what he did for me, but for all those who passed by hisdesk--and said, "Geez, Paul, I thought you were old when you hiredME."
December 5, 2005 11:36 AM CST:
Mike Furlong, CNB 1997-1998: I just learned about thedeath of the final incarnation of City News. My uncle Jim copied meon his e-mail to you recounting his experiences as a cub reporterat CNB in 1958%u2026 For me, CNB is a part of my family myth. Itwas the place that my grandfather started as a young man. My dadand his brothers all worked there. My parents met while workingthere. When I met a woman and followed her to Chicago, I went towork there -- by the way, she is now my wife. We now have two youngchildren. I have to admit, it saddens me to think that a fourthgeneration of Furlongs won't gain the invaluable City Newseducation. None of this is meant to imply that my sense of loss isunique. City News has been a unifying force in Chicago for a longtime. Before the internet, City News made all of the informationflying around the city digestible. In fact, it's ironic that theinternet is even facilitating this cyber-reunion, because word onthe street is that it killed CNB. Okay . . . enough of that. Here'smy most vivid CNB story. I was working overnights at policeheadquarters on 11th and State. I lived up in Lakeview in a roachinfested studio on Surf. I woke up and left for 35 E. Wacker about11 p.m. As I walked out of my studio, I stepped across a pool ofwhat appeared to be chocolate syrup. Thinking nothing of it, Ieventually made my way to the press room at police headquarters. Anhour or so later, I went down to check the dep sheet and noticedthat a pizza delivery man had been attacked in my neighborhood.Upon closer inspection I realized the guy had been stabbed in mybuilding . . . right outside my studio door. Despite having coveredcountless murders and seeing bodies being hauled into the MedicalExaminer's office in the morning as I picked up the ME's report,the thought of this guy being stabbed right outside my door reallycreeped me out. I immediately felt a connection with him andanxiously called the hospital to check on his condition. Turns outhe was fine. He drove his car back to the pizza store and calledthe ambulance himself. It was so cheap, I couldn't even get thenight desk to run that story at 1:30 am. I thought the guy deservedat least one paragraph. Guess that's why I'm a lawyer now.
Jim Fisher, Palatine, Ill.: As one who was bitten by thejournalism bug early in high school, but whose career took a verydifferent path, a note of thank you is in order for yourcompilation of bits and bites regarding the now defunct CNB. As anearly 'hanger on" at the old and now defunct Miami News (Cox), thereminiscences of the "Chicago's kids" closely shadowed my ownmemories and triggered a wonderful shot of nostalgia for the oldjoint back home.
Rob Furlong: I've been copied on numerous emails relatingto the passing of CNB and am feeling a little like someone at afuneral who feels the call to jump up and say a few words after theformal eulogies. My "best" CNB war story is already documented --by you in the Trib's 50th anniversary story. It was about having togo back to find out the name of the dog the young boy was chasingwhen hit and killed by a car on the near westside. The boy's familydidn't have a phone so I had had to use the cross-reference to finda neighbor who would walk over and get the mother to the phone,from a block or so away. After losing an argument with the deskabout the relevancy of the dog's name, and anguishing not a smallamount, I finally just invented a dog's name. I couldn't take itanymore. I am sure that reporters who handled such storiesfearlessly went on to become war correspondents. Mostly, I wasterrified at city news. Terrified I wouldn't see the story, get thefacts right, explain them very well, et al. opening the envelope ofclips before heading over to city hall was as anxiety-producing asanything I have had to do on this earth. I finally bought a taperecorder and started recording the front page of the Trib everynight in preparation for what I thought would be an easier way toexist in the world of news -- broadcasting. It worked and I got ajob in radio news in Iowa. and I was correct -- the standards wereprecipitously lower than in print journalism -- and, I discovered Icould say it a lot easier than I could write it. That leads me backto City Hall and having to dictate the daily story to the desk,often to a rewrite person named Sandy Dabovich, whom I latermarried and who endearingly called me "Furlong." She would oftentell me to hurry up with my admittedly slow dictation, and thenswitch to the headphones on the desk behind her to take anotherstory during my long pauses. Really boosted my confidence.
Alexandra 'Sandy' Dabovich Furlong, CNB 1968-69: Istarted at City News in April, 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. hadjust been assassinated and West side neighborhoods were in flames.I was making $75 a week. I sat at the copy boy's desk behind thepillar where the police radios squawked constantly. Jensen facednorth with his back to the door, the PR department, and (top boss)Larry Mulay's office. Zimbrakos faced south with his back to thepillar, me and the sports department. I jumped every time someoneyelled "copy!" I ran to pick up the book and deliver it to thedesk. When the desk yelled "copy," I ran again, pulled the bookapart, delivered the various copies to the radio desk, teletype,and the waiting places for the morgue copy and the beat reporter'scopy for the next day. I ran for coffee. I was always frightened. Iremember being in an elevator in the Civic Center building withSheriff Joseph I. Woods and Royko's leg man, whose name I can'tremember or never knew. Woods didn't like what Royko had written inhis most recent column and told Royko's man he'd break both of hislegs. I gasped and Royko's man laughed. Other things thatfrightened me: The federal building press room and Max Sonderby'sabsolutely inscrutable face; Harry Golden Jr. shouting at JayMcMullen in the City Hall press room because Jay had scooped himthe day before; the AP and UPI reporter racing for the telephoneduring a break in the Chicago 7 trial - the UPI guy lost the raceand broke his ankle. Sharon Illoway broke me in on the criminalcourt beat. She was showing me around the building and introducingme to people. After introducing me to the bailiff outside the grandjury room, he told her what the grand jury was working on. She wentto a pay phone in a far corner of the building and called in thestory. By the time we walked back to the press room, the story hadgone out over the wire, crossed the Trib's city desk, and resultedin a tongue lashing for Bernie Judge, the Trib's criminal courtreporter. He was furious with Sharon and let her know - in nouncertain terms. Sharon laughed and I gasped . Now I was even morefrightened. At the end of the day, I got on a city bus near 26thand California and tried to pay my fare with a ten dollar bill. Thedriver looked at me like I was an idiot and told me he couldn'tmake change for a ten. I had to get off the bus and wander around26th and California until I could find someone to make change forme, then catch another bus. Now I was really, really frightened. Iwent into Larry Mulay's office the next morning and asked him toput me on rewrite and leave me there. I loved being on rewrite. Nomatter how crazy the office got or how far behind I was, it wasn'tas scary as being on the street. Well... it was scary to haveDornie call me to the desk by thundering "LADY!" because I knew I'dreally messed up on something like spelling "paraphernalia" withoutthat stupid "r" in the middle. Even so, it was never as scary asbeing on the street. I was pretty sure Dornie wasn't going to slugme, even if it sometimes looked like it. On the street, you werenever really sure.... Pam Zekman once told me she couldn't see howI could stand working in the office. But I couldn't see how shecould stand working in the Federal building, trying to figure outif Max Sonderby was about to scoop her. I remember Pam's calling ina story that she knew was full of holes. She asked me to hold ontoit until Jensen went to lunch, which I did, and it slipped through.Other memories: going to Leo's Stage Door restaurant on Wellsstreet after work to re-hash the day; getting a floor pass to the1968 Democratic National Convention so I could get a close up lookat Paul Newman; the way Gladys "Ruby Ryan" Wherity covered themouthpiece of her headset when she called whoever she called totell them the breaking news; Lynn Golden's coaching me to say Icouldn't type, so I didn't get stuck on teletype, like she did; thestory about the poor clown who cheaped out a coroner case yearsago, only to find out the next day that the dead man had been onthe infamous Black Sox team; having to take press releases fromLeonard Sengali, the Blackstone Rangers PR guy, and sweatingbullets to understand his ghetto accent; mob guys nick names (Tony'Big Tuna' Acardo) and middle initials ( Richard J. Daley; EdwardV. Hanrahan; Judge Julius J. Hoffman); the story about Vince Giornoimpersonating an FBI agent to find out from the Secret Service when Lyndon Johnson was coming to town. I recently told the Vince Giornostory to a lady friend, who is on the bench in Tucson. She lookedalarmed and said, "Isn't that unethical for a journalist to dothat?" I paused, turned that over in my mind, and replied, "Geez,Sharon, I think it's a federal offense." I often think about CityNews because what I learned there has served me so well ineverything I've done since. I'm a psychologist and used to do awide variety of psychological evaluations in private practice. Now,I'm an itinerant rural school psychologist. I have a 'beat.' Idrive around to all my little schools, where I've come to know allthe players and the politics between them. I listen carefully.People come to trust me. When I need to find out information, Iknow how to generate and run down leads. I know how to callgovernment offices and other agencies and keep going until I findthe right person. I know how to chat with the person until I getwhat I need. I know how to interview, how to ferret out moreinformation and check the details. I don't really believe anythinganyone tells me. I always check it out. I know how to take the testdata I've collected and weave it together with the interview datato write a 'psych report,' which is really the story of thatperson's life. I know how to write 'on deadline.' That always helpswhen the crunch comes. I can type like lightening with the thumband first two fingers on each hand. I never write anything I can'tsupport with hard data and/or two other sources. Everything I writehas to pass the 'desk cross examination' test in my head. I knowhow to review, edit and rewrite my reports before I sign them. Mr.Jensen is right there in my head, telling me what doesn't readsmoothly, what needs further explanation, and when a word isn't theright one. I've had people compliment me on my psych reportsbecause they are clear and complete. At staffings, I know how tolisten to what everyone has said, take notes, then generate aconcise and accurate written summary, right on the spot. EverythingI needed to know, I learned at City News Bureau. When Mike went towork at City News, Rob and I told him, "If you learn to do thisjob, everything else you ever do will seem easier." I am trulysorry that the next generation of Furlongs will not get to cuttheir working world teeth at City News. That is a huge loss. So,now, here's what I really want to know...did Vince Giorno reallysuccessfully impersonate an FBI agent, get Johnson's arrivalinformation, and escape prosecution? Or is that an urban myth?
Ray Cortopassi, Anchor/Reporter, WRTV-TV, ndianapolis, CNB Reporter/Weekend Broadcast Editor 1993-94: Landing a job atCity News was a plum, and every serious journalism student inChicago knew it. Having the CNB stripe on your shoulder meant youwere at least reliable in the trenches. Those of us lucky enough toget our start there were in for an education most of us hadn'tbargained for. Some Things I Learned at City News (not all of themjournalistically nutritional): *How to travel below! the city usingLower Wacker Drive. *To always bring an extra shirt in my car -- oralternately if I forgot one -- how to finish my shift covering a3-alarm fire smelling like a boyscout on his third night of acampout. *How to organize my notes to minimize eardrum damage. *Howto find a peaceful dignity on a police bench sitting next to adrunk who just relieved himself without bothering to get up. *Howto roast hot dogs on a small charcoal grill delicately balanced onthe grates of a fire escape -- and then how to discreetly disposeof the ashes (Had to work as a rewrite on Labor Day that year).*How to take criticism from an editor after crafting anexpertly-written piece on Dan Rostenkowski that didn't have a quoteuntil the eleventh paragraph. *How to make friends with cops. *Howto understand the importance of a news story; its impact on thereader and the person you're writing about. *How to pop the clutchin moderate traffic after leaving the lights on! my car whileparked at 11th & State. *The joy of hearing the story you justwrote, read word-for-word on news radio on the drive home. *How toappreciate the value of knowing nothing until you learned it atCity News. Good night for the second time, City News. May you sleepwell, knowing that to the generations of journalists you sent intothe world, your death was not cheap.
December 2, 2005 6:55 PM CST :
Kevin Smith, CNB Feb. 1996 to May 1999: I spent almostthree years as a Chicago Police officer, hearing gunfire and evensqueezing off a few rounds myself, but I still think my mostdangerous instant came carrying a City News notebook. RonnieFields, a high school guard who in 1996 had been compared to Michael Jordan in leaping ability and was considered the likelynext preps-to-pro basketball player, had been involved in a caraccident that left him wearing a halo to prevent movement to hisfractured neck. The quirk here was that he was driving a car rentedby a Farragut assistant coach and was apparently coming from thecoach's suburban apartment, where he allegedly had been living. Asthe dayside north reporter, I was sent to the address the schoolboard had for Fields, hoping to determine whether he really livedthere or just had someone collecting his mail there so he couldattend the same school that sent Kevin Garnett to the NBA the yearbefore. I knocked on a few doors, getting nothing too interesting,and then stopped to chat with a couple of high school studentsshooting at a basketball hoop set up in the street. I was talkingto one of them when a Pontiac Bonneville pulled up. In the back, aman in a red satin Budweiser jacket rolled down the window and,without glancing at me at all, asked the teenager, "Who's this?" Asthe words went through my ears, the thought that went through myhead was very, very specific: I was going to be able to write astory about what it felt like when the bullet entered my side. Inever felt scared, never had time to feel scared in fact. Theteenager told the man in the red satin jacket that I was a reporterasking about Ronnie and the man swung his eyes to me for the firsttime. Concluding that only a reporter would be dumb enough to walkaround the West Side in a white dress shirt and tie with nothingmore dangerous than a pen and a pager, he nodded to the driver andPontiac pulled away. I pulled away shortly afterward, going to AreaFour headquarters and filing what I had. I was always amused bythat brief thought process, one that associated a gunshot wound notwith pain or fear, but with a journalistic opportunity. But then,that's really what City News Bureau was: A place that made you soscared of being wrong, being late or facing the question "Did youask? that you never even considered being scared of anything else.PS - Ellen: Like you, I met my spouse in the CNB newsroom.
Todd Wilkinson, Bozeman, Montana, CNB 1985-1986: It isalmost too daunting to write anything meaningful about a force thatlooms as large in your life as City News still does for me, withoutsomehow trivializing the experience. Who among us wasn't profoundlyaffected? How could we not be?%u2026 I am in Montana now, still inthe business, and I hope you don't mind me using this space to sendalong a hi-ya to my beloved colleagues who were at CNB during themid 1980s, including the legendary scrivener-editor Paul Zimbrakos.Not long ago, a couple of us alums got together for beers inBozeman and dreamed that another reunion might be held. Now thatthe demise is official, I hope that one last wake can be plannedand include all of us. In the meantime, my thoughts of CNB will bedwelling in the memories of those many gatherings of colleagues atthe Old Town Ale House, at 2:30 a.m., after midwatch ended, beingjoined by the aspiring Second City-ers, and staying there untildawn when someone put a quarter in the jukebox and Peggy Leecrooned "Is That All There Is?"
Mark Sokolowski, Asst. Mgr., AT&T Government Relations, CNB 1984-86: It was 1986 and I was on the "garbage" beat, namedby my predecessor Corky Siemaszko who was the first City Newsreporter to cover the beat that included the RTA, CTA, Metra, PACE,the airports, the Water Reclamation District, Chicago Housing Authority and the Chicago Park District. I was stationed outside of Soldier Field interviewing fans of Bruce Springsteen who werewaiting to get into the old stadium for his sold out show thatnight. It was also the last day before my two week vacation beganand I was going to be driving all night to the east coast thatnight, so, naturally, I wanted to leave early from work to berested. It was a hot, sweltering day when Lake Michigan refused tosend any cool breezes toward the city. And so all the fans tryingto get into Soldier Field had Styrofoam coolers. These coolerswould be the reason why I wouldn't be allowed to head back to mydesk at the State of Illinois Center. After calling in some quotesfrom the people I'd interviewed, I asked "the Chief" -- PaulZimbrakos -- if I could retire to my air conditioned office. "Stickaround. We hear the park district isn't letting anyone in withtheir coolers. Check it out." Crap, I thought. Before heading tothe park district's headquarters, at the north end of SoldierField, I stopped by a Channel 7 truck to talk with a reporter.While we were chatting, the police scanner in the TV truckannounced an accident on Lake Shore Drive. "Ah, I'll let the officehandle it," I thought to myself. But then the radio chattered thatthere were two dead. I decided to head to the accident site. It wasat least two blocks away and by the time I got there a crowdsurrounded the crash. A CTA bus had climbed on top of a Cadillacthat had cut in front of the bus. The car was filled with five kidsfrom Rockford heading to the concert and was in the wrong lane whenthe driver realized he had to get over to the left to get into theparking lot%u2026After surveying the scene, and taking notes ofwhat I saw, I headed to the nearest building to phone in my storysince this was before cell phones were common place. McCormick Place was about a block away. I ran all the way there, the coins Ineeded to use pay phones jingling in my suit coat pockets. I foundan open door and a phone and phoned in my report. I then ran back,took more notes, ran back to the phone. I did this again. By thistime enough facts had been collected by other reporters that I wastold I could leave for my office. I sat down and under thepayphone, throat hoarse from running, dripping with sweat. Asecurity guard came up and gave me a glass of water. "Were you inthe accident?" he asked. No journalism school could give you abetter education. It's too bad more journalists didn't get a degreefrom City News.
December 2, 2005 3:43 PM CST:
More tales from the City News trenches
Bern Colleran, CNB 1969-72: I was lucky enough to joinCity News in 1969, in time to endure the tough wisdom of two "oldtime" editors, "Dornie" Dornfeld and Clarence Jensen just beforethey hung up their sleeve garters. Millions of words have beenwritten about the grouchily affable Dornie. I'll leave him toothers. Jensen was less colorful, a dour looking guy of few wordswho reminded you of the long-suffering winter dwellers of those Ingmar Bergman movies popular at the time. After two days ofintense on-the-job training at Police Central and City Hall, and afew surprises, including being groped by one of the "older" womenreporters in that greasy spoon near Police HQ, I was penciled infor rewrite duty in the office. Here, of course, I knew I wouldshine. Like many City News hires, I had no journalistic experience,had never written a single news story. Nevertheless, I wassupremely confident, with my degree in English Lit and a couple ofshort stories well received by the reading public in my household.I propped myself up in front of the battered Royal FP, fingerstwitching. "Colleran, call Fox Furs on North State. Ask them ifthey just got robbed." That was Jensen and destiny beckoned. On thesecond ring an old lady's voice croaked hello and, before some copin the background told her not to talk to reporters, she'd given mea breathless account of being chained to a radiator while the thugsscooped mink stoles, full-length sables and the like into shoppingbags and ran. "Got it," I shouted to Jensen. "Good story." "Okay,"he said, without turning. "Gimme a Bulletin and Lead, maybe a fewgraphs." I banged away on that Royal's keys, quickly crafting afour-graph first take I modestly regarded as pretty brilliant,striving for the understatement I'd always considered my strength,shaping my phrases subtly, just hinting at those classicalallusions I'd let the reader inject for himself, while littlePulitzer fairies danced in the corner of my brain. Ripping thepaper from the roller, I strode to the Desk. Jensen grabbed thepaper, his pen poised above it ready to write the story number andmaybe make a small edit or two. After a few seconds he went stiff.It's the only way to describe it. The pen dropped from his hand tothe desk. Paul Zimbrakos looked up from the other side of the desk,then reading Jensen's expression, looked quickly down. Jensen'seyes lifted off the page and stared straight ahead for about fiveeternal seconds, before he swiveled toward me, handed me the paperand said in that flat north-of-the-Baltic way, "Colleran....""Yes," I replied, and the Pulitzer fairies weren't dancing anymore."Colleran," he repeated, "Take this back to your desk and try tomake it sound like something happened today at Fox Furs." Such wasthe clarity of that instruction, such was the terror Jensenproduced, and such are the efforts that terror can induce, that bythe end of my first rewrite shift that day I was a news writer. CNB1969-72
Dave Gilbert, David R. Gilbert & Associates, Ltd., Deerfield, Ill.: (Mid-watch editor) A. A. (Dornie) Dornfeldfired my a--one night when I had been scooped by The Chicago DailyNews on an education story that I knew nothing about! I was fillingin at the Civic Center, didn't know the beat, sitting on a desk inthe press room after just being screamed at and fired by Dornfeld.I saw my journalistic career flying out the window. If the windowcould have opened I would have flown after it. Then the phone rang,I answered, and it was Dornfeld. "Now look, Chum, here's what Iwant you to do," he said as he explained how I could recover thestory and keep my job at the same time. What a man, what a place.Chicago won't be the same without a City News Kid buggingsomebody.
John Fennell, Associate Professor, Meredith Chair, University of Missouri School of Journalism: Sad. Sad. Sad. I clearlyremember driving home in the early morning hours after working themidnight shift, flipping on the radio and hearing word for word thelead of the story I had written the hour before. What power. It wasprobably the worst job I ever had and the one that opened up doorafter door in my career, from legman to Royko to editor ofMilwaukee Magazine. Petrified, bored, awed, intimidated, proud --it was a roller coaster of a ride that never let up. I still smellthe cigarette smoke and see those overflowing tin ashtrays spillingbutts and gray dust across the desk. I can still feel my stomachchurning at making yet another 2 a. m. crib death call. I ameternally grateful to be a CNB vet, but I am not sure I wish theexperience on anyone.
Paul Russell Fine: I worked at City News Bureau in 1995while a sophomore journalism student. It was hard work, and I oftenworked the mid-watch shift hanging out at police stations aroundthe city. But it was one of the most remarkable jobs I ever had.Working with the cops and firemen, interviewing people all over thecity, and trying to pry intelligible quotes from Mayor Daley wereall exciting on-the-job occurrences I now fondly recall. I rememberon one story on far west Grand Avenue, I was at a pay phone callingin a story and two guys grabbed my beeper and tried to mug me --all while I was still holding the phone. I laugh when I rememberhow my editor told me to put the phone down and get my beeper back!%u2026
Gerry Czerak, Business Manager, St.Thomas the Apostle Catholic Parish, Naperville, Ill.: I worked at City News foronly three months, between graduating from DePaul as an Englishmajor and quitting to attend Northwestern's Medill for graduateschool, but it was the Summer of 1966! What an experience... Richard Speck captured in a flophouse and arraigned at Criminal Court, Dr.King threatening to march in Cicero, staking out the negotiationsbetween Dr. King and Mayor Richard J. Daley at the Episcopal churchand then sweating to try to make rapid sense of their agreementunder deadline pressure while on the phone to the desk. Theadrenaline flows just recalling it. It was former Trib columnistMichael Kilian who taught me how to "cheap it out" in my firstdays, but I admit I was never really comfortable with the idea.Idealist, I guess. The papers -- there were still four dailies --were doing a lot of hiring that summer. So I was lucky enough tomove from the police beat hanging out at the old precinct stationon Maxwell Street, through the County building and sheriff's officebeat, to the City Hall beat all in such a short time. I neverstayed in newspaper journalism and went to work in PR at a college,but that was a summer I'll never forget -- especially Ruby (Ryan)(real name: Gladys Wherity) the day operator who took our phonecalls.
James Scalzitti, Associate Editor, Schofield Media, Chicago: Being a City News reporter was much more than just ajob -- it became part of who I am, and City News will always be apart of me. Every time I ask someone to spell an otherwisecommon-sounding name, that is City News. Every time I hear areporter, whether it is one I know or one on TV, say they don'tknow the answer to a question, and I want to say "Did you ask?"that is City News. Every time, wherever I've worked, I see someonecome in late or leave early and I give them the (Bureau Chief Paul)Zimbrakos-style raised eyebrow or I tap my fingers, that is CityNews. Every time I face an otherwise insurmountable amount ornature of work, I think it's not impossible to get through, becauseI've been through City News. My experiences may pale in comparisonto some, but some things stand out. On one of my first days on myown, after a week of shadowing more experienced reporters (ones whohad been at City News for weeks or even a month or two!) Paul pagedme on my way in to 35 E. Wacker on an October morning. I pulledinto a gas station off the Kennedy Expressway and phoned the office(this was a little before cell phones). He told me to turn aroundand head to Fox River Grove, because a train had run into a schoolbus on the tracks. I got there, filed what seemed like handfuls ofstories (some as short as a couple sentences) throughout the dayand into the evening -- from the scene of the accident to thehospitals and the schools where the victims were students.Throughout my time at City News, I was driven as much by fear of myeditors than by a desire to get the story. This is why, fearing Iwas on thin ice reporting-wise, I braved the wrath of policeofficers trying to keep order in Des Plaines one day at a doublehomicide. I managed to get through the barricades, to the small carthat the couple was shot to death in, and phoned in all the detailsof the bits of bone and brain and blood that splattered the car'swindows and soaked its seats, to my re-write, Lisa Donovan.Managing to do this, please the desk and not get arrested in theprocess led me to believe maybe I could be a reporter after all.For as long as he is a public person, I will remember and tellpeople about covering the first congressional campaign of Jesse Jackson Jr.-- standing out on traffic islands with him as he shookthe hands of motorists, and especially him correcting my grammar,publicly, outside a campaign appearance, when I began a questionwith the word "irrespective." City News gave me access to peopleother beginning reporters could only dream about -- I was there,right alongside the well-known and experienced TV, radio andnewspaper reporters, covering Mayor Daley, Govs. Edgar and Ryan,Sens. Durbin and Fitzgerald, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. SometimesI shock normal -- non-City News alums -- people when I tell themthat the first time I ever used a cell phone was at a hostagesituation in an otherwise nice neighborhood on the South Side.Since we didn't have cell phones, I would have to go to the nearestpay phone and give updates to the desk every so often. Aplainclothes officer saw me on one of these phones as he drove backto the scene after a break, and later chastised me for unknowinglyusing a phone that was popular with drug dealers and the like andwhich could have gotten me harmed by one of them who needed to usethe phone for a business transaction. He let me use his phone, fromthe scene, for the rest of the standoff. I imagine there will bepeople who will be happy about the demise of City News -- they arethe politicians, the well-paid flaks and anyone else in the newswho won't have to answer as many hard questions, who won't bebothered outside of regular business hours. The public will notice,too, any time the above persons get to deliver their messageswithout having to account for what they're saying, whenever areporter calls a street an avenue, whenever news happens in themiddle of the night and no radio or TV stations report on it untilthe middle of the next day, after they've read the papers, whosestories, as well, will not be as good as they could have been. Theloss of City News will be felt immediately after Paul turns out thelights. Who will be there right after midnight on Jan. 1, 2006 todefinitively tell the city who is the new year's first baby bornand first person murdered? We already know that the final death tobe reported in 2005 will that of City News.
Dan Fields, Editor, The Sanford (N.C.) Herald: While onsummer break from Eastern Illinois University in 1996, I wasfortunate enough to intern at City News. I'm not only grateful forthe opportunity, but have never forgotten that Paul Zimbrakos andother editors treated everyone the same. Yes, that sink-or-swimmentality was not discriminatory, especially when it came to age.Paul hammered home the point that reporters had to have a reliablemode of transportation. I had my parents' 1990 Buick and it neverhad any problems. Of course, a few weeks into the job, thealternator went out before my afternoon shift started. The phonecall I didn't want to make had to be made. As expected, I got apretty good chewing out by Paul. Since I didn't have a car, myshift that night was in the press room with the Sun-Times' JimCasey at the old Chicago police headquarters (at 11th and State)."Make sure that car's fixed by tomorrow." Those were Paul's finalwords, before he abruptly hung up. Fortunately, the car was fixedin the morning. I phoned Paul to let him know and he told me tohead straight out to the military base at O'Hare ... to cover President Clinton arriving into town. City News offered manyopportunities for similar reporters to begin their careers withjournalistic street smarts not taught in any classroom. I'll neverforget those lessons.
Peter D. Waldstein, Chief Operating Officer, Hilco Receivables, LLC , Northbrook, Ill.: City News in 1984-1985,spending nine of my 12 months on the midnight shift, before movingto Crain's Chicago Business and later into several positions inbusiness. Several great memories: First, I remember interviewingfor the job with Bernie Judge, who put me through my paces andlater offered me the job, and then left to join the Sun-Times inthe two weeks before I started. I remember being on the desk andwriting a story about some poor guy who got beaten to death by hisfriend with a ballpeen hammer on the friend's porch over some sillyargument. The friend then went back inside to finish watching TV,where the cops found him and arrested him. Meanwhile, a collegefriend of mine who was a medical resident in anesthesiologyprovided the anesthetic to the victim on the operating table atChrist Hospital, where the victim was taken by the ambulance. Thevictim died, but my friend and I ended up sharing our respectivesides of the story at a Super Bowl party a few days later andhaving a great laugh.... I remember being on the desk at the end ofa midnight shift when a 3-alarm fire broke out at a warehouse onthe West Side. Several firefighters tragically lost their liveswhen the roof collapsed. I remember having just enough time, underintense pressure from Paul Zimbrakos to keep the copy moving, tocobble together a decent first sentence. "Nice lead," Paul saidabove the clatter of the desk as he issued the bulletin--perhapsthe nicest compliment I've ever received for anything I've everwritten.
December 2, 2005 11:27 AM CST:
Jim Furlong: I worked for the CNB as a reporter in 1958,just after graduating from Brown University as a ratherother-worldly English major. The plunge into Chicago's undersidewas shocking and baffling. Among other things, I didn't know astakeout from a cookout, and because of my ignorance wound upruining one police stakeout that CNB had been tipped to, but that'sanother story. The Cook County Coroner's Office constantly fed theCNB names of people who had died from as yet not establishedcauses. We reporters checked out these "coroner's cases" forpossible stories. One day I got the name of a farm worker who haddied while laboring in a field. I made some calls but could reachonly one person somewhat familiar with the details. That personsaid the cause apparently was a heart attack. Though in retrospecta number of stories were possible, I needed to move on to the nextitem on my work list, so I called the CNB desk with the idea of"cheaping it out." That meant convincing the desk the case wasn'tworth more than a paragraph or so. My rewrite man -- a sleepy andrather depressive fellow who still was more amiable than mostpeople on the desk -- asked for details. I ran through what I knew,which was very little, fearing that I was going to be sent back ona long and fruitless search for more information. I ended my reportwith the rather literary remark that the departed was just a "Manwith a Hoe," a reference to a work by the American poet Edwin Markham. I assumed the reference would pass over the desk's head.Without missing a beat, the rewrite man asked, "Was he bowed by theweight of centuries"? That was most of the opening line ofMarkham's poem. Then paraphrasing, he asked, "Was he leaning uponhis hoe and gazing on the ground?" Flustered, I could only say, "Idon't know." "OK, I guess we don't need that," I seem to rememberhim saying with irony. This at-sea English major then went on tothe next task -- well and truly humbled.
Dean Schott: Good piece on CNB. The mantra, "If yourmother says she loves you, check it out," has an addendum. It comesfrom B.B. King: "Nobody loves me, and my mother could be jiving metoo."
Scotty Ballard, Associate Editor, Jet Magazine, Chicago:For me my favorite memory was an evening (I forget the date,year...of the Pullman fire) when Paul (Zimbrakos, City News BureauChief) allowed me to leave work early because of a dental emergencyafter I got a splintered toothpick wedged between my tooth and alive nerve deep beneath my gums (the pain was exquisitelymind-altering to say the least). I left to go see a dentist whoshot me with so much Novocain, that by the time he dug the bulletof pain from my jaw he thought I was a pain freak. It wasn't toolong after that that I got home to the call from CNB of a 3-alarmfire around 111th and Cottage grove, this would grow to 5-alarmwith two specials (a memorable sight, let me tell you. My advice:throw away your clothes afterwards), and they asked me if I wouldgo since I stayed close by... So, I get there at the height of thedrama where the flames have created this surreal sight of wallscollapsing, furiously bright orange and white flames, an eerie glowof dozens of fire trucks reflecting the blaze and white ash fallinglike snow on everything. So, after witnessing the organized chaosof hundreds of firefighters battling the blaze and how quickly thefire was growing, (through my pain-medicated and Novocain haze) Itried to relay everything I had seen to (hornet's nest of nighteditors including) Ann Weiler, etc., to which (I'm so sure) I cameacross as a drooling idiot both to the people at the bureau and tothe patrons of the nearby lounge where I used the pay phone. Theeditors (God love 'em) demanded that I speak clearly and describeevery iota of detail that went into the fire. ...Oh, and theexpression on the battalion chief's face as I tried to askfollow-up questions while numbed by Novocain, priceless. It was thebest of times, blah, blah, blah...I'll always cherish my boot campexperience there.
Adam Weintraub, Managing Editor, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento: It was on a sleepy overnight shift that we heard apolice radio call that, it gradually became clear, marked theambush murder of flamboyant Flukey Stokes, who buried his son in aCadillac coffin and was gunned down after his "bodyguard" tippedthe shooters that the coast was clear. I was running late for astandard seasonal assignment on the day shift -- the Hilton wassending off some holiday turkey, when (Bureau Chief Paul )Zimbrakoscalled me back to the office. "We think the mayor died. Come onback." I spent the next 10 or 12 or 14 hours at a tube in thenewsroom, taking calls from reporters at City Hall and NorthwesternMemorial and assembling the pieces of write-through on the last dayof Harold Washington. And it was after the original City Newsclosed down that my father, a Sun-Times reporter for more than 30years, passed away. I called the new version. (Midwatch editor)Wayne Klatt answered the phone, did a little catching up, offeredhis condolences. I told him I thought there might be some interestin an obit. "Do you want to dictate it?" So I did. I still use whatI learned at City News every single day. CNB 1985-1988
Jay Branegan, Chicago Today-Chicago Tribune-Time-Northwestern/Medill-US Senate: Never let's forgetthe many prosecutors, cops, city hall flunkies who would call downto their relevant press rooms, get a reporter on the line, askwho's this, be told it was the City News guy, and say, "Let me talkto a real reporter." Don Hamilton, Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.,City News 1978-79 (With Bob Rowley, Suzie Kuzka, Sid Smith et al.): Here's one of the many rich memories I have of CNB. I got tochoose the year's first baby born in Chicago. On New Year's Eve1978 I was the overnight shift editor and the first baby would bemy first duty that night. The copy books had all been typed up inadvance with blanks to fill in when we got the baby's name and thehospital. Sounds simple, right? Well, I managed to make itcomplicated. Midnight comes and within only five minutes a hospitalcalls. We've got the first baby, she says. Born exactly atmidnight. Not so fast. See, I'd checked this out in the APStylebook. Midnight, I told her, is part of the previous day.(Yeah, I know, but that's what they say.) Your baby was born in1978. She sounded confused but hung up. A minute later a secondhospital calls with the same story. Exactly at midnight. No dice, Itell them. Then a third and a fourth and a fifth. I'm trying themdown right and left. I bite my lip. This isn't going well. Whathave I done? It's 20 minutes after midnight and the announcementstill hasn't gone out. The Sun-Times city desk called. Where thefirst baby? We have deadlines. I tell them it will be right along.Just then the first hospital called back. I checked with thedoctor, she said, and found out the baby was born at two secondsafter midnight. Two seconds. Yeah, right. I'm trying to decidewhether I should call her a liar or ask how they can determine theexact second of birth when she hit me with the payoff. It was thefirst of a set of twins! Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner. Igot the announcement out. There's an odd footnote to this story. Inthe middle of all that millennium Y2K hoopla at the end of 1999, Iwrote a commentary for Morning Edition telling this story. TheSun-Times photographer on duty that night, by then retired, heardit, dug into into his files and emailed me the picture he'd takenof the twins. It's truly an e-world.
Nancy Ryan: I feel like getting drunk and singing "Thosewere the days my friend. We thought they'd never end........." Buck Taylor, clinic director,Gallatin Community Clinic, Bozeman, Montana: I was there for a year in 1991. Just readingit brought back floods of memories %u2013 most of them fond:-Certainly (Bureau Chief) Paul (Zimbrakos) coming in every morningand scaring (or waking up) the overnight re-write desk. I remembersleeping on top of the re-write desk at 3 am, hoping the phone fromthe overnight police beat reporter would wake me up if needed. -Iwas fortunate enough to be one of the first reporters on scene atthe Palatine Brown's Chicken story. I recall when witnesses andeven suspects were being thrown about we would find their addressesand show up to interview them. -Being on scene at the Paxton Hotelfire on North LaSalle Street and watching cranes sift throughwreckage, finally and accidentally lifting a body by the leg outfrom beneath the rubble. Since CNB was too cheap to have more thanone cellphone, we had to run all over looking for a payphone tocall in to rewrite trying to beat the competition. -Lastly, theovernight police beat at the former police headquarters on SouthState Street. The newsroom with its cigarette stained windows andmultiple phones and scanners. Knowing you were the only reporter onduty in the city from midnight until 6 am was an awesomeresponsibility. Visiting the snarling and bored cops in the "FirstDep's" office one floor down trying to coax any information out ofthem as keepers of the sheet was often a lesson in total futility.Thanks for providing a place for us to mourn.
December 1, 2005 3:56 PM CST:
Journo bootcamp really dead this time It's like a deathin the family. But, this time, the corpse won't revive. Back in1998 I wrote the for City NewsBureau of Chicago, the legendary bootcamp for generations ofChicago journalists. Including me. That obituary was the kissof%u2026life. The Chicago Tribune saved City News at the lastminute and it continued in a smaller, leaner version until now. TheTrib announced today that it is shutting New City News Service (asit was renamed) at the end of the year--bringing to a close 124years of storied newsgathering and shared suffering for generationsof famed and infamous journalists. City News was known for low pay,long hours and a reputation for taking a chance on eager,undereducated young men (and much later, women) who wantedon-the-job training. For many of us, City News was more than just aplace to work. It was, indeed, family--dysfunctional, maddening,scary. We worked Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year's Evetogether and then spent much of our off-duty time together too,often drinking too much, chain smoking and complainingabout%u2026City News. Just as war creates foxhole buddies for life,so also are the relationships of City News. I met my husband, WadeNelson, tthere. And the best man at our wedding (Tony Campbell) andthe godfathers of both of our sons ( Mike Royko and Bern Colleran)were City News alums. Many of my best friends today--decades afterI left my $100-a-week job at City news--are from those rollickingdays. One of them is Tom Furlong who e-mailed this note to CityNews boss Paul Zimbrakos (another legend) after I told Tom thatCity News is R.I.P: "It broke my heart to hear the news of the final demise of CNB this morning. Multiple generations of Furlongs mourn that announcement... My first 14 months in journalism was the news equivalent of the Marine Corps basic training. With you as the drill sargeant, it prepared me for everything to come and allowed me to enter a proud and selective fraternity. I shall never forget that. " Furlong, deputy national editor of the Los AngelesTimes, is one of six members and three generations of his family to"graduate " from City News. The first was his late dad, also Tom,who was there in 1928. The late great Pulitzer Prize-winningChicago columnist Royko worked at City News some 50 years ago andhad a soft spot for City News until the day he died in 1997. Otheralumni--who made good in other lines of work--include author KurtVonnegut, actor Melvyn Douglas, sculptor Claes Oldenburg andCharles MacArthur, author of "The Front Page." Most civilians havenever heard of City News. In fact, many of the younger reporters atthe Tribune have no idea of the history of the place or its motto,"
If your mother says she loves you, check it out." Thenews business is changing (don't get me started) and the editorsand reporters who work in it are changing too. For all of us whofell in love with the news business there, the death of thiswonderful institution is heartbreaking--a little like learning yourmother didn't love you after all. If you're a City News alum, e-mail me your recollections to
firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post some of them here.
April 19, 2005 1:00 PM CDT: Bush's Abe JokeSPRINGFIELD--It was a good laugh line and President Bush gotappreciative chuckles from the crowd. But it wasn't exactly true.Speaking at the Abe Lincoln Museum dedication today, Bush declared,"Most of y'all know that the First Lady was a librarian. Any timeshe can get me into a library, it's a pretty good deal as far asshe's concerned." But, Bush wasn't in the Abe LincolnLibrary Tuesday. He toured the new museum but never got intothe separate library building that is across the street andthat has been open since last fall.
ANOTHER DUMB POL JOKE: Gov. Blagojevich told this one onhimself. At the dedication, high school student Mihan Lee read herprize-winning Lincoln essay. After that, the Blagojevich let theaudience in on his own unimpressive score on the ACT collegeentrance exam: 18. "If I can be governor of Illinois, Mihan, youcan be president of the United States!"
YOU, TOO? Bush and Blago laughed and chatted through muchof the hour-long dedication. Maybe they were bonding over theiracademic mediocrity. Bush was a lousy student, too.
April 19, 2005 12:12 PM CDT: Honest Abe's day
'WHEN YOU'RE OUT, YOU'RE OUT!' That's what formerIllinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan told me. And that's what shetells her husband, the indicted former governor. Mrs. Ryan arrivedat the ceremony without her husband. "George is still trying tofind a place to park," she said. Really. He was. And, he did manageto find a spot--in plenty of time to take his place next to hiswife in the third row. Just before things got underway, Mrs. Ryanrubbed her husband's large bald spot, not for luck (although hecould use it). She was smearing on sunscreen for him. Ryan'sfederal trial on corruption charges is set to begin in Chicago thisfall. Illustrating the truth of Mrs. Ryan's quote at the top ofthis dispatch, Ryan and the Mrs. drove here Sunday from theirKankakee home and have been overnighting, she said, at the "Motel66." Investigative reporting reveals that she meant the Route 66 Hotel, which offers "freeparking with RV or truck." Also, "hot cars, cool music and greatfood" at the Filling Station Bar and Grill. "He's doing good," Mrs.Ryan said of her husband. Sporting a pretty new pink suit (St. Johnknit), pink Ferragamo purse and cream-colored Chanel flats, Mrs.Ryan said, "We are living our life. He's retired now" and is buoyedby the many speeches he gives around the country on death penaltyreform.
AIN'T ARTIFICE GREAT? As in front of the yellow limestone LincolnMuseum, the big dark letters on the building left no doubt where hewas speaking.
"ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM ," it said. But it'snot etched in stone. Not yet, anyhow. That'll have to come later.The letters spelling out the building's name are stick 'n peel. Isaw the sign company adjusting them Monday night.
STILL STEAMED. Museum executive director Richard NortonSmith clearly does NOT appreciate critics who have carped about theMuseum's lifelike Lincoln statues. It's a "manufacturednon-existent controversy," he told me. "Real people don't talkabout 'rubber Lincolns.' No one on the street talks about 'rubberLincolns.' No one gives a s--- about 'rubber Lincolns.'" Meanwhile,before the opening ceremony Tuesday, Norton was channeling hisinner Brad Pitt, working the crowds like a movie star. Citizenswithout tickets were lined up a dozen deep in some places and thosenear the front were asking Smith to sign their dedication programs.It's got to be one of the rare times in history when a scholar getsto play like it's Hollywood. Or Disneyland.
WHERE'S THE JOHN? They might have both been on the stagefor the big Lincoln Museum opening but let's just say there's nolove lost between Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and RepublicanU.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, who is thinking about running for governor.When I asked LaHood if he'd give me a tour of the governor'smansion if he wins, he took a shot at Blago, who spends as littletime as possible in Springfield. "The current guy couldn't," saidLaHood, of Peoria, suggesting that the Chicago gov doesn't evenknow his way around his own house.
TAKE THAT BRIAN LAMB. The first dignitary to speak at theofficial museum opening was U.S Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and forthe backstory, scroll ever downward to the stuff headlined,"Where's Dick?"
CRACKDOWN. Blago would be shocked, SHOCKED, do you hear,if state workers showed up at the museum opening without taking avacation day! The Blagojevich administration sent out a memo Mondayto local state employees that they're expected to be at their deskstoday: Here you go: Subject: Lincoln library dedication
"This memorandum is being distributed to avoid any further confusion or rumors regarding the work status of state employees who work for agencies located in downtown Springfield. All employees scheduled to work in downtown Springfield are to be present for work during their regularly scheduled work hours at their normal work locations on April 19, 2005." A few cynicsmight suggest that the gov might not be so %u2026 rigid ... if aDEMOCRATIC president were coming to town.
DA PLANE. DA PLANE. Meanwhile, one local airline pilotkept his son out of school Tuesday to take him and his baby sisterto the landing strip NOT to see the president but to see hisairplane. As I write this, they're waiting for the crowd gatheredfor the Bush motorcade to disperse so they can get a better look atAir Force One at Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport.
TELLTALE SIGN. In the days leading up to , Bush's attendance here was a poorly keptsecret. But one way you could tell he'd be here was the pre-printedschedule of events that listed "prohibited items" because ofsecurity. These included food, drinks and umbrellas. Fortunately,it was a gorgeous, sunny day -- in the sharpest of contrasts withthe last presidential library opening. (Bill Clinton, Little Rock,last November, Biblical deluge.) Furthermore my contraband applewas NOT confiscated in Springfield, despite the clear and presentdanger it created for the President and the free world.
YOUR COMPANY NAME HERE. If you watched the museumdedication on TV, you probably saw some cheesy black top hats inthe crowd. Close scrutiny revealed that they advertised Motorola,one of the main sponsors of all the hoo-ha. And on that snarky note-- brought to you courtesy of the Chicago Tribune and chicagotribune.com -- untilnext time, EW
April 19, 2005 8:33 AM CDT Booze, guns, sex. Who'd havethought those three topics would spring to mind in the hours beforePresident Bush was to arrive to officially open the Abraham LincolnPresidential Museum today? But, a quick stroll through the museumshop got me thinking about all of those subjectsnot commonlyassociated with the nation's 16th president. For that matter, youprobably wouldn't expect Illinois' new rock star senator, Democrat Barack Obama, to be asking, "Who's Abe and the Babe?" in aSpringfield hotel lobby. I'd better explain. First, the Senator.(Scroll down if you want to skip straight to sex, liquor andfirearms.)
NOTHING DOING. PERIOD: I'd been telling Obama's trustyaide about this couple from Wheaton, Ill.Max and DonnaDanielsI'd met as they lingered (for pay) around the Lincolnfestivities, dressed up to look like Abe and his lovely wife, Mary.For the past few days, this town has been crawling with Lincolnlook-alikes (its scary, truly). This couple, however, stoodoutin part because of their memorable Web site name. At thevery moment that Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs and I were jabberingabout this, who should join us in the Renaissance Hotel lobby butObama himself. After some three hours, he was making an "early"getaway from a $500-a-plate dinner that was threatening to last aslong as the Lincoln administration. Since a group of us had beentalking about these costumed look-alikesand since the town isawash in people dressed like they were living in the Civil Warerasomeone (emphatically NOT me) asked Obama whether he'dconsidered period dress to mark the occasion of the opening of theGreat Emancipator's museum. "That was the WRONG period for me,"said Obama, the U.S. Senate's only African-American.
ASKED AND ANSWERED: Quickly moving the conversationalong, Gibbs and I were laughing about the couple's catchy Websitename, AbeandtheBabe.com.This is what prompted Obama's question about who they were. Rightthen, as if on cue, Abe and the BabeMax and Donna Daniels,now in jeans and T-shirts (the shirts said, "Don't Blame Me I Votedfor Abe") appeared in the lobby. They stopped to get a picturetaken with Obama, then headed toward the elevator to get some shuteye before another day of playing Lincoln and his wife at themuseum opening.
ONE MORE THING: Don't call them Lincoln impersonators.They're "Lincoln Presenters" and they have an association and a Web site. There you'lllearn there are 124 member Abes; 34 Mary Todd Lincolns and 17Abe-and-Mary couples all of whom, the directory suggests, aremarried in real life. Their motto: "We are Ready Willing andABE-L."
SEX AND THE PRESIDENT: I looked in vain in the huge andwell-stocked museum gift store for the controversial new book thatsuggests that Abe Lincoln was gay, or bisexual. C.A. Tripp's "TheIntimate World of Abraham Lincoln" was not on sale there nor wasthe issue of his sexuality addressed in the 99,800-square footmuseum, the institution's executive director, congenial RichardNorton Smith, told me. But, said Smith, there was "a very heateddiscussion" on the topic this past weekend when Lincoln scholarsexamined many aspects of the Lincoln presidency in a two-dayconference here.
GUNPLAY FOR YOUNG AND OLD: The museum gift shop alsooffers a large selection of fake guns. There's the collection offive miniature civil war firearmstwo muskets, two carbinesand a revolver ($14.99). Also, a life-size musket ($19.99) andflintlock pistol ($9.99). The Civil War Rifle Pen is a relativebargain at $5.99. And if guns aren't your weapon of choice, perhapsa sword-in-a-scabbard letter opener imported from Spain at $19.99will appeal.
AND FINALLY%u2026BOOZE: There are three different modelsof Abe Lincoln shot glasses ($5.99 and $6.99) and another smallglass that looks like it's designed to hold a couple ounces of icecold Vodka. Other, non-alcoholic themed items include a "TalkingAction Lincoln" which, for $34.99, says 25 phrases when you punchAction Abe in the chest. Example: "A man does not live who is moredevoted to peace than I am." You can buy a set of three golf ballswith a reproduction of that familiar A. Lincoln autograph for $9.99and a necklace, ring and bracelet made out of miniature (lead-free)Lincoln-head pennies ($3.99 to $9.99). My personal favorite is thesmall "Abe's Log Cabin" in a small pickle jar: Fifty wooden pieces($6.99) that will enable you to replicate (vaguely) Abe's originalIndiana cabin. Made in China.
NOT WORTH A CENT: I read in my colleague Pat Reardon'sfine guide to the museum in last Tuesday's Tribune that there weretwo pennies embedded in the floor. I just didn't read verycarefully where these pennies were located. As I approached astatue of Lincoln, Mary and their son near the Old State Capitol Ithought I spotted one of the Lincoln-head pennies only to bend downand seeit was a perfectly circular piece of dirty oldgum.
WHERES DICK? C-SPAN took out a quarter-page ad inMonday's Washington Post heralding its live coverage of today'sofficial opening. I know this because Tribune Washingtoncorrespondent Jeff Zeleny brought the paper with him on the planefrom D.C. The ad promises that C-SPAN will bring you "IllinoisGovernor Rod Blagojevich, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert,Senator Barack Obama, and other national leaders." No mention ofIllinois' Senior Senator, Democrat Dick Durbin. When I toldexecutive director Smith about the oversight he declared thatDurbin was the public official most responsible for making themuseum a reality and the one least likely to demand credit for hisefforts. I found Smith walking down Sixth Street near the Museum,patting his thin red hair as it blew in the warm breeze. If Durbinwas the least likely to demand credit, who was the politician MOSTlikely to demand credit, I asked Smith. His yellow Nautica tieflapped as he spun around and headed for cover, answering thequestion only with a hearty red-faced laugh. More Lincoln lore asthe day unfolds, EW
Mother Nature rains on Bill Clinton's parade
November 18, 2004 3:45 PM CST: LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Excuseme while I wring out my notes. At least Barbra Streisand had thegood sense to wear a hat to the Bill Clinton library deluge. Butmost people were way under-prepared for the downpour, their $500Manolos sinking into the mud as they waited to pass throughsecurity. Nobody was allowed to bring an umbrella to the bigdedication ceremony herefor security reasons, the SecretService said. But unlike the commoners who attended and wereconsigned to the bleachers, major donors and other VIPs receivedponchos and umbrellaswith the $3 price tags still onthemonce they passed through the magnetometers. I know thisbecause I sneaked in to the special Purple Passes tent to see howthe other half lives. It was pretty amusing to see a bunch ofreally rich people wrestling their Chanels and Armanis into whatwas a glorified trash bag with a hood. Volunteers passed throughthe crowd with boxes of white towels so that ticketholders couldmop off their seats, but there's no other way to say it: This was adisaster. As for the poor drenched masses in the bleachers--well nowonder about half of them left before the program got underway.Without rain gear you had to be a really, really devoted Friend ofBill to stay in the cold heavy rain.
BLAME IT ON BUSH. Given Bill Clinton's vaunted luck, Iwas sure the clouds would disappear, the sun would come out andbirds would chirp just as the ceremony started. "I think Bush had ahand in this. He talks to God," joked Frank Dirado, a Clintonbooster from New York who came to the opening with his wife, Eilaand their daughter Sofia, 3. "They said, 'This storm is coming fromTexas.' As soon as I heard that, I said Bush had a hand in it. Hewanted it to rain on Clinton's parade," he said. As I'm typingthis, I don't have a TV nearby but I'm guessing that Dirado is notthe only guy who used that line today.
NO WHINING. Despite the miseryand the huge buschaos and jam up afterwardsattendees I talked to seemed to bein a darned good mood. And they wouldn't have missed this eventhough they looked like drowned razorbackswhateverthey are. "We just kept saying, 'This is history. This ishistory, '" said Lakewood Elementary School principal BeverlyKelso, who accompanied a group of students from their nearbyschool. "I'm sure that some day we'll look on this with fondmemories. But, it'll take awhile," said a cheery Kelso. For some ofus, it will take a REALLY long while.
Posted: November 18, 2004 6:38 AM CST
BYE-BYE TO BILL'S BAGS. With something like 1,000journalists in town for the Bill Clinton library dedicationThursday, you don't need a very vivid imagination to re-create theX-rated jokes about what's not on display here. But there'ssomething else missing from the William Jefferson ClintonPresidential Center that I can reveal here for the first time: Thebags under Bill Clinton's eyes. Nope. No Extreme Makeover. Theformer president hasn't had a lift or a tuck. At least not that Iknow of. However, the Friends of Bill making the picks of theClinton photos on display throughout the library, were careful toreject the ones where the President is not looking his best. BruceLindsey, a top White House Clinton aide and now general counsel tothe Clinton Foundation, was much involved in the exhibits in thelibrary and he told me that he and others making the photo choicestold the exhibit designers, "The bags under his eyes are toopronounced. Go back and find a different picture."
MORE NEWS HERE. So, the bags under Bill Clinton's eyesare history. But the former president has made some historyhere this week too. He was ON TIME for his first event in this weekof celebration--this one Monday at Central High School that wasintegrated under federal order in 1957. But wait. There's more.During his White House years, Clinton was notoriously late--foreverything. Way late. Hours and hours late. But, he was--braceyourself--20 minutes early for his speech to the Chamber ofCommerce after the Central High. This was so noteworthy that hisex-staffers who flooded into town for the dedication couldn't stoptalking about it.
TWO ARCHITECTS WALK INTO A BAR... It makes for a goodstory, and there is even evidence to back it up. But, alas, theClinton library was not designed on a White House cocktailnapkin. "That is an architect myth. There are a lot of napkinsketches, but it didn't come quite that simply," says JamesPolshek, who designed the Clinton Center with partner RichardOlcott. In fact, a picture of the White House napkin with a sketchthat looks eerily like the actual building, appeared last Sunday inthe Arkansas Democrat Gazette without much explanation. Asked toamplify, Polshek explains that while Clinton was still in officeand early discussions for the library were underway, Olcott "swipeda napkin from the White House." The partners used the goldenpresidential seal on the napkin to sketch the design and that roundseal on the napkin ultimately became "Celebration Circle" outsidethe library.
SHOW ME THE MONEY. I ran into Polshek, paying full retailprice ($65) for his own new architecture book, "PolshekPartnership," at the Clinton library gift shop. Out on thestreet--President Clinton Ave., natch-- Polshek lovingly pagedthrough the volume and said, "It's absolutely gorgeous." TheClinton library project is in the book "only a little bit" becauseit was not completed when the volume went to the printer. As he puthis credit card back in his wallet, Polshek told the cashier thiswas the only store that carried his book. He'd had them shippedthere especially for the opening extravaganza. "I hope you sell alot," the architect said.
(ALMOST) NAKED IN LITTLE ROCK. There's not much racy inthe museum store unless you count the paper doll book ($5.95) thatshows Bill and Hill in their underwear. The president is wearing awhite t-shirt and plaid boxers. Hillary is shown in a full slip.One of the hottest items in the store this week is the presidentialseal mouse pad ($7.95).
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Clinton likes to tell you thathe's a uniter not a divider and that's even true at the gift store,where you can buy a baby t-shirt that says, "Future Republican/William J. Clinton Presidential Center."
THIS AIN'T WALL STREET. The Arkansas state capital is asmall town and if you stand in one place long enough you'll seeeverybody you're looking for. I found Andy Kessel, the ClintonFoundation's chief financial officer, outside the museum store,fielding questions on his cell phone about how to locate 50 moreClinton library T-shirts. "I seem to be more involved in thisvending operation that I would have liked," he said. Kessel, wholeft Wall Street to move to Little Rock, was wearing tassel loafersand a pricey Patek Philippe watch with his business attire but hesaid the livin' is easy here. When I asked him how often he suitsup these days, he said "probably once a month. It's a pretty casualtown." Later in the day, I spotted Kessel, still in his suit,hauling a large computer that looked like it might land on thepavement, it was teetering so in his arms. This heavy liftingsupports his contention that "the event gypsies" were "running mybutt off" with last minute chores.
OLD HOME WEEK. It's been part family reunion and partgroup therapy for all the Clinton White House staffers who havecome back here to work on the library opening. "Emotionally thishas been just fantastic," says Laura Schwartz, who worked in theClinton White House social office and, most recently, was the tripdirector for Teresa Heinz Kerry. "After this election, I've hadthis pit in my stomach. I asked 'Mama T' (Heinz Kerry), 'How do Iget rid of this pit?' "The entire (Clinton) social office is here.You worked with these people for eight years. That's as long asyou're in grammar school. It's a positive, positive thing."
FINISHING THE CONVERSATION. Clinton White Housephotographer Sharon Farmer said that she's picking up where sheleft off with all her buds at the White House. Farmer, who recentlyfinished a gig as staff photographer for the John Kerry campaign,is running the photo operation for the opening here with 10shooters taking pictures of the events. She's still wild aboutBill: "He's like a person who knows your cousin around the corner,down the block. He can relate. He can touch! %u2026He's a Bad Dude.That's a capital B, three As and Four Ds. That's a Baaaddddboy."
NO MORE 'MRS.' CLINTON. Former Clinton White House SocialSecretary Capricia Marshall was back on the job, running that endof things for the library opening and declaring, "For me, there isonly one president!" Darting off to walk through the library withBill Clinton, Marshall made a reference to former First LadyHillary Clinton. "I have to constantly remind myself she's aSenator now!"
THIS JUST IN. The local television coverage of the manyevents surrounding the library opening has been, to put it mildly,enthusiastic. Exclusive interviews have included ABC 's PeterJennings telling a Little Rock TV reporter, "What a beautifulstate!" and the Rev. Jesse Jackson is introduced by a news readeras, "One of the biggest civil rights activists there is!" "It'sexciting to be back in Arkansas," Jackson told the TV reporter.Never one to miss an opportunity for a little publicity, Jackson ispopping up at media venues all over town--including a drop by atthe Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
DIVERSIONS. I took a quick and memorable trip through theCentral National High School Historic Site, a museum in arefurbished 1920s gas station across from the high school that madehistory in 1957. This is a must-see reminder of the nine blackstudents who integrated the school after President Eisenhowerordered federal troops to Arkansas to protect them. When one loudmuseum-goer got into an argument with her companion, the ParkService woman supervising the souvenir counter smiled amiably and,with irony intended, told the loud mouth, "This is a non-violentfacility."
THE DOCTOR IS IN. Sure CNN sent an army here to cover thestory. But what was senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Guptadoing cooling his heels at the library site? Besides, of course,providing a much needed eye candy element. Gupta, who recentlymarried--sorry, ladies--told me he came in for the day from hisAtlanta base after getting Clinton to agree to an interview for aspecial Gupta is doing on HIV/AIDS. In a previous life, Gupta was awriter on health issues for the Clinton White House so it was oldhome week for him too. Incidentally, he says that people stop himon the street to seek his medical advice. "It's one thing aboutbeing a doctor on television. People think they know you." Hisproducer, Chicago native Rachel Ruff, told me that Gupta'sdiagnosis of her leg problem "was better than my orthopedicsurgeon." Joked Gupta, "What she didn't mention is that I justtouched her and she healed."