URGENT: Please attend CPS “turn around” meetings to support struggling schools

1010928_213106498836621_1949213047_nThe war on teachers and low-income students continues as the CPS proposes to “turn around” three elementary schools next month. This is just more school closings by another name, and continues the aggressive campaign to privatize public education.

Schools targeted include McNair, Dvorak, and Gresham elementary schools, where 97% of the students are African American and low income, and over 50% of the staff is African American. “Turn around” means that ALL of the employees at the school will be laid-off, and the future of the school is handed over to the controversial Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) for the next school year. The AUSL has an inconsistent track record of raising performance, and has close ties to Chicago’s unelected Board of Education.

Please attend these meetings. These schools are being targeted with a strategy of isolation, but we all know that public education and the loss of jobs has a negative effect on our entire city. Please show up to the following meetings and express solidarity with the teachers, parents, and students.


Wednesday April 2, 2014 from 6pm-8pm at the schools listed below:


April 9th & 10th: Public hearings at CPS’ headquarters:
CPS Central Administration building
125 S. Clark Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603
You can also call the Board of Education at (773) 553-1600 and voice your concerns.


Further info.:


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Hell Yeti! Beer of The Week

So the temperature has again been on that train this week. My mental vision of Mother Nature is looking less like a nurturing, stern matriarch, and more like Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka character during the boat tour in his factory.

When having to ride this Bipolar Vortex, or whatever it’s called, I can’t tell you how great it is to be a block away from Miller’s Pub in the Loop every evening (except for those nights when I don’t have enough time or money to stop-in). Back when I was starting up this whole project with WC, I wondered-in one day because I’m always drawn to the word pub. This place stands way out ahead of the downtown bar pack for several reasons:

  1. They have an impressive set of taps (and bottle list), with some fairly rare brews for this area of town.
  2. They have my favorite burger, their Greek Burger.
  3. They match the glass with the beer.
  4. The kitchen is open to 2am; and the bar to 4am.

This is NOT standard for downtown Chicago. The Greek/Irish fare makes it a full-on trove of indulgence for the over-worked soul seeking comfort on the southern border of hedonism. You’ll likely not have to wait more than 20 minutes for a table, which you kill in luxury, even standing then whole time, with one of the brews you can select from a detailed beer & spirits menu (yes, they list ABV). You also couldn’t pick a more scenic place to have to wait either. The dark wood and stained glass décor is enough to get lost in for the wait.

On one recent suicide-mercury-dive evening, I stopped-in for the usual—I kid you not they are rinsing the glass for me before I’ve passed the coat rack. They’re the only stop on any of my routes that has the Hercules Double IPA from Great Divide. I’m literally hooked on this sweet, caramelly potion of malts, hops and floral aromas. It’s 10% ABV, the strongest they have on tap by a couple of percentage points, and one will handily rinse away the toils of the day. Everyone I have one with winds up hooked too, and there’s nothing else there that quite does it for me…

…that is until I met the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout.

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Now, those who know me are quite aware of my skepticism of Branding; which is something I have some knowledge of, but DAMN, Great Divide gone done it again. I haven’t been disappointed by anything they’ve put out yet. This is a thick, chewy meal in a glass that pours like lava. It’s like the breakfast you wish you’d had at the start of your day—on a winter snow day that is, but I digress. This species of Yeti is a Russian Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV) so dark it almost stains the glass. Miller’s poured this roast beast in a tulip glass from the tap. The finish is piney, and quite bitter, but overall this is the kind of thing I like to drink when it’s cold out.


SIZES: 22oz and 5 gal kegs

Unfortunately, the presence of the Yeti at Miller’s didn’t last long, and it vanished as quick as it came. Only two days later I returned to have another pass, and it was gone.

ABV.: 9.5%



IBUs: 75

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Dear America, Here’s what your missing, or how Revolution and Beer saved the nation!

This started out as a rundown of corporate welfare at the state, local and national levels. Brian was in a twitter battle with some corporate apologist. He wanted some of my numbers from last week’s show in which I detailed nearly a half trillion dollars given or gifted or bequeathed to corporations. That includes the conservative estimate of $100 billion in 2012 (the numbers aren’t yet in for 2013) $134.6 billion on a state level, and at least that amount on county and local levels. This number does not include $12 billion given to 10 individual hedge fund traders, nor does it include 254.8 billion to military contractors contracted through the DoD. [1]
All total, this paints a pretty clear argument that America could have nice stuff, like healthcare, and wealthy doctors, but at a rough estimate, and certainly a lowball number of $476.4 billion a year to corporations and military contractors, they are robbing the American dream blind.

I started researching first what it cost each American household and came across this:

Tax Foundation has concluded that their ‘special tax provisions’ cost taxpayers over $100 billion per year, or $870 per family. Corporate benefits include items such as Graduated Corporate Income, Inventory Property Sales, Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, Accelerated Depreciation, and Deferred taxes… federal, state and local governments force American families to give, on average, $2436 per year to companies that certainly don’t need the handouts (or shouldn’t be in business if they do). That $2436 could go a long, long way for most families, whether it was spent on food and clothing, vacation, a college fund, or whatever mom, dad and the kids most need… [2]

But thanks to Brian and his corporate twitter troll I wasn’t ready to quit there. It became something more than just a damage estimate. I began to wonder over what we were actually missing. What is being stolen from the American taxpayer? Who is the culprit? What are the numbers? What is the fix?

The obvious is healthcare. It also really pisses off Righties, and I love that. Share this with a friend. You’ll be surprised at the absolute simplicity.

Okay, aggregate US hospital costs in 2011 were $387.3 billion. The average cost to a policy owner for monthly insurance through an employer is $300, but it comes out of your check so you don’t notice it, until you get a sniffle and then suddenly you’re happy you have insurance! The cost to employers for that same policy can be 2-5 times that cost.

If 90 million Americans paid $165/month for a premium that would amount to $14.85 billion in revenue. The money would not go into the general government fund, but into a single payer insurance entity. Double that with an employer match. the cost of providing insurance to employees, even with their contribution is steep. The key here is the employer and employee costs are cut dramatically. More money in the marketplace! Annually, that works out to, with employer match on that $165 dollar premium ($330 total) is 365.4 billion Dollars annually for universal single payer. Cutting even a pathetic 20% off of the lowball $353 billion annually to corporations and contractors puts an additional $60 or so billion into the system, padding it for inflation and even making a profit for investment and improvements. Add in copays of $10 or 15 dollars and every patient in American gets to pee in their own gold-plated f$#@ing bedpan!

By the way, these numbers include Medicare and government health services. money from corporate welfare would then go, theoretically, to paying down the deficit and cutting taxes. The math is simple. Start with annual US medical costs and the number of working age men and women, and then work backwards through simple numbers. And I’m no economic genius. I’m just thinking out of the box, or out of the cave, Plato.

Given all of these easily locatable figures and details, in my humble estimation, the Right, capitalists and oligarchs in the country can go f#$@ themselves!

WC Turck has been called “The most dangerous voice on the Left.” He can be heard on Chicago’s only voice for activism, and the true Progressive voice, Q4 radio, streaming weekdays from 9-11am. And listen to Revolution and Beer Weekend with partner and cohost BL Murray Saturdays from 1-3pm. Turck is the author of 4 books. His first novel “Broken: One soldiers unexpected journey home,” was recommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes in 2008 for its treatment of PTSD. “Everything for Love” is a memoir of love and war during the siege of Sarajevo. “Burn Down the Sky” was published in 2010 on Amazon as an e-book fictionalized his experiences and insights on the frontlines of the war on terror. “The Last Man,” an Occupy novel is a warning about world ruled by a single corporation. Turck wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart: A revolutionary Christmas Carol,” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” His current project is to build and proliferate truly independent media and radio stations across the country.

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Translating Anarchy Through Beer-Tinted Glasses with Mark Bray

So, just what is that “idea whose time has come?”

Whatever it was, the media and the majority of US punditry totally missed it when came to Occupy Wall Street. On this episode, we’re joined on Que4 Radio/AM1680 by fellow worker and author Mark Bray to discuss his book Translating Anarchy, The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street. Listen-in as we take a stab at “Translating Anarchy” through beer-tinted glasses.

You purchase a hard copy or ebook version of Mark’s Book by clicking on the image below.

We’ll be discussing Mark’s book this Saturday

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This Saturday: A Beer with Mark Bray of OWS while we discuss “Translating Anarchy”

We’ll be discussing Mark’s book this Saturday

I just had a very pleasant phone conversation with Mark Bray confirming the details of his trip to Chicago. We are thrilled to have him over for a beer this Saturday, March 22nd, on the Revolution and Beer Weekend Show. We’ll be talking about his book Translating Anarchy, The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street. If you’ve often found yourself asking where Occupy came from, and if it left a legacy as it ceased to be a constant occupation of public spaces, then you definitely want to tune in and call in.

Mark is holding a discussion this coming Sunday about his experience with the Occupy Wall Street movement as a direct participant in both the Media and Direct Action working groups. In his recently published book on the topic, Translating Anarchy, The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, Mark breaks with the typical for-or-against pattern of analysis, and dives deep into the methods of organization of the Occupy Wall Street movement and where they came from.

Mark didn’t come rushing into OWS, and his previous studies of history and social justice movements made him hesitant at first. After witnessing the rapid development of the movement as a real political force, he was inspired to apply the his skills at research and ethnography to pin down the political philosophies of the core organizers that worked around the clock to build the movement. He conducted in-depth interviews with 192 of these organizers and reveals origins far deeper than most anyone has provided so far.

His event will be held at Powell’s Books, located at 1218 S Halsted Avenue (Meeting room adjacent to Children’s Section). The event is being hosted by Four Star Anarchist Organization. You can visit the Facebook event page for more details.

To hear the show, tune into AM1710 if you live in the north central area of Chicago. You can also stream the show live at que4.org (que4.org/radio) with mobile. The call in number for the station is 773 217-8344.


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Flight Plan: A Revolution and Beer Novel, part One


Ten years on. Memories came like ghosts; ghostly figures trudging wearily past a bombed out building along a snowy Sarajevo street, smoke drifting among the trees above a bloody ditch in Vietnam, the terror in a Russian prisoners eyes in a half lit basement in Kabul, the last time he’d seen Donna in that Paris airport, Emina and Adnan’s forgiving gaze as he died in Alan’s arms. These memories, they never fully left him, like an unending nightmare as real as the moment they’d happened. This road, he thought, this life was so long.

Alan was happy to be leaving Kuala Lumpur. There was a vibe, an restrained tension particularly to Americans on the street there. Not that it was anything specific Alan could point to, but rather something, a certain and palpable disdain hidden behind the eyes. People were dutiful, even hospitable in their perfunctory dealings, but for Americans especially there still remained a certain danger.

Alan let out a long breath and settled back into his business class seat. A beautiful young Malaysian flight attendant was there in a moment with a glass of sparkling water. Her thin brown face was smooth and perfect, as if she’d been sculpted. Each movement was precise and choreographed, and economical. Alan smiled casually as she set it down on the arm rest beside him. He cinched the seatbelt a bit smugly across his lap, almost smiling at the same thought he always had at this moment. The thin belt hardly was of any consequence if the plane slammed into a mountain or the ocean at three hundred miles per hour. It was just one of those odd musings cultivated after better than four decades practically living on aircraft, but that was the life of a correspondent. The thought that commercial flying was safer than any other form of transportation, especially a premiere airline like Eden.

Still, Alan had a sense of something. He couldn’t say exactly what it was, but it was dark and dangerous. It hung there like a spectre before him, torturing any pretense of a restive respite from the tension of the past several weeks. Alan had suffered such thoughts more times than he cared to recount spanning four decades of mankind’s conflicts and wars, but something was different this time. There was a tension growing through the weave of humanity. It was as if the ambient warming of the planet fed some deeper disturbance driving strife and poverty and desperation. Worse, that tension seemed about to peak and erupt with monumental cataclysm. Alan had felt it as the Berlin Wall came down at the end of the last century. What he felt now was something altogether larger and more terrible. It felt like inevitable calamity.

Alan shook away the thought, at least for the moment, and lifted the cool glass of water to his lips. From the window he watched as the ground crew pulled the equipment off the Eden Air Airbus A330. The withdrew, disappearing beyond the gate lights into the darkening Malaysian night. Passengers were still stacked up in the isles , scuffling back towards their seats. Kirby checked his watch and sighed. They would depart late.

There was a headline on the front page of the International Headline Tribune. Alan weighed the headline a moment. It was something about how House Republicans were outraged by budget cuts to the Pentagon. Below that was a story about concerns over Russian interference in the Ukraine vote. Further along Alan’s eyes paused on a shorter piece:

Militants Slash more than 100 in China

Alan skimmed the short piece, taking another sip of his water.

…in retaliation for government crackdowns against activists and seperatists in China’s largely Muslim Xinxiang province, militants attacked people with knives and swords, injuring 143 and killing 29…

Alan frowned with a sigh and stuffed the paper between the seat and bulkhead where he’d also tucked his phone and a bottle of water inside a small airline blanket.

He closed his eyes and thought about Hong Kong and the book. Kirby was working on a book about Edward Snowden, the whistleblower that had embarrassed the national Security Agency and the administration by releasing tens of thousands of classified documents to select journalists. The book had taken Kirby the better part of a hundred thousand miles, including a half dozen LeCarre-like visits to Snowden’s secret flat in Moscow. He was beat. While in better shape than men half his age, at sixty-eight, the schedule was more than daunting.

“I know you!” came a voice in thickly accented Australian. John looked up as a stock red-haired middle-aged man slid into the empty seat beside him. “Evan, uh…”


“Right,” Alan Kirby, right? I saw your interview with Edward Snowden on Al Jezeera in my hotel the other day.”

“Oh, well, thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. I think he’s a traitor. Don’t you feel the least bit guilty enabling that sort of behavior?”

Alan looked at the man good and hard and thought that once he might have, at least verbally, ripped the guy apart. Instead, discretion for the moment was the better part of getting some rest.

“Have a good flight.”

“Hey, mate,” said the guy, suddenly apologetic, “no offense. Forget I said anything.”
“No worries,” Alan replied, finishing his water and closing his eyes again. Better to set the pace now and send the unequivocal statement that Alan wasn’t interested in conversation. He closed his eyes and turned towards the window, folding his arms as tightly as possible.

He let his thoughts drift away to quieter thoughts, ruminations and cherished moments only just aware as the plane taxied and then lifted off in short order into a cloudless and starry Malaysian sky.

Below Kuala Lumpur’s crowded and brightly lit city center fell away quickly. The A330 banked east over the mountains and the darkest interior of the island nation. From there they would pass just north of Dungun with its’ rocky beaches and out over the South China Sea, following the coast of Vietnam. In seven hours or so they’d land in Hong Kong. Kirby was already looking forward to a hot shower and a proper bed.

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Make Your St. Patrick’s Day Hangover Worth Something

Now that we’re on our way to the morning after, here’s a bit of Irish Labor history to make the hangover worth something:

“In 1913, in response to the Lockout, he, along with an ex-British officer, Jack White, founded the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), an armed and well-trained body of labour men whose aim was to defend workers and strikers, particularly from the frequent brutality of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.”

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Interview: What Inspires a Chicago Public School Teacher?

On Saturday, March 15th, 2014, Anne Carlson and Juan Gonzalez of Drummond Thomas Montessori School in Chicago joined us to talk about what inspires them as public school teachers, and why they joined many teachers and parents across Chicago to boycott the ISAT test.

Download the MP3 here.

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Why are teachers being threatened over the ISAT?

I found a little time on Saturday to revisit some of the recent issues we’ve covered on the show. We talked quite a bit on the March 1st Revolution and Beer weekend show about the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) boycott that was sparked by several community groups in February. In my googling, I came across Ben Joravsky’s piece from March 4th where he explains the experience of actually reading the school code for the state of Illinois. He was in search of the legally binding mandate to administer the tests. Since dire warnings of punishment, and even threats of termination, were issued to those teachers who declined to give the test, then certainly there was clear language within the code justifying such retaliation. Spoiler alert: He couldn’t find the ISAT in the code.

The comments on articles like this are always interesting at the very least, and sometimes extremely informative. That is, if you can wade through waives brain-dead contrarian BS, partisan cheer-leading, and all-out trolling. Even I couldn’t help myself and had to contribute to the anything-goes political blabber. So much snark; such little grasp of the culture and history of propaganda. You really can’t help but to roll the dice just out of curiosity. This exchange was a favorite:


Aside from some class A comment drama, there was something missing from, or being avoided by, the comments of the pro-ISAT folks on this thread:

“But the law doesn’t specifically mention the ISAT…state law requires that public schools give a test. But there is no law requiring students must take it…That makes me wonder: Did Koch and Chico play hardball with the teachers because (1) they made an honest mistake in their reading of the school code or (2) they do what Mayor Emanuel tells them.”

No one had addressed that.

Also, there are accusations/positions thrown around that the commentors aren’t owning up to:

  1. Just the mere participation of the CTU in a coalition means that the big bad union bosses run the whole thing. (leaves one wondering how such critics would define “community”)
  2. That if citizens have positions similar to the CTU, then they are magically transformed into union operatives; hence their positions and concerns are null and void.

Maybe I’m just missing something, but it appears to me that those applying this rationale are just opposed unions in general, as well as the act of working-class people organizing themselves and sharing resources to better their circumstances, and perhaps even teachers in general. That’s some pretty Koched-up thinking. I guess we should all just stop asking questions and follow orders.

Further Reading:

If you so dare, you too may peruse the school code here.


CTU page about ISAT boycott


Weekly Testing Resistance Round-up:



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On Today’s Show: Melinda Power on International Women’s Day

Listen in at AM1710 or stream live at que4.org (que4.org/radio on mobile)

Today we’ll be having a beer with activist, lawyer, and feminist Melinda Power of the West Town Law Office. She’ll be discussing her long history of work for social justice in Chicago as well as International Women’s Day.

Tune-in, call-in (773) 217-8344), and comment with your perspectives and questions about the importance if this day. If you don’t get enough on the topic from the show, you can catch Melinda, along with many other strong advocates for justice, at the Previous Administration (one of our absolute favorite bars) this evening from 5-7 p.m. For an open discussion and festivities in celebration of this important day. Details of the event are below.

Previous Administration
Gonna talk feminism, what it means to us and our society.
3154 W Diversey
Sat mar 8, 5pm to 7pm
Intl womens day!

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