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Not the best week for journalism

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Hello once more. I’ve returned from my unannounced and sudden hiatus to discuss yet another issue in the complicated and conflicted realm of journalism. Essentially, three important figures in journalism died in the past week, two literally.

First, Brian Williams, host of the NBC Nightly News, long respected newsman with a penchant for storytelling, for building drama and evoking emotion while remaining as unbiased and unflappable as possible, has been accused embellishing, even lying, about some of his past experiences. After recalling a story that occurred 12 years ago where he flew in a military Chinook helicopter during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and forced to land, military members questioned his retelling of the sequence of events. He later admitted he “made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago,” and took himself off the NBC news desk. Of course, as per usual in these situations, it was not enough for the viewers, or for NBC. He has since been suspended for six months from NBC, and all of his past work, particularly his time with Seal Team 6 and in Hurricane Katrina, are now being put in the cross-hairs. If other inconsistencies are found, his career, for all intents and purposes, may be over.

While this happened, CBS news correspondent Bob Simon was killed in a horrible-looking car crash in New York City at the age of 73. While I can’t say I singled Bob Simon out as one of my idols in journalism or writing, a car crash seems a mundane way to go for a man who barely escaped Saigon and the Hanoi offensive in 1972. Then again, he apparently wasn’t wearing a seat belt while being driven around in the livery car, so maybe his balls were just too big for this world in the end.

And the next day, the NEXT DAY people, New York Times columnist David Carr dies of currently unknown causes at 58. Carr was someone I enjoyed reading. He was very forward-thinking early in his career, and he had a bluntness to his writing that I appreciated. Plus, his path to get to where he was, recovering from alcohol and drug addiction the way he did, simply had me rooting for him for years.

In Simon and Carr(funkle) we lost two excellent journalists who were willing to explore the hard topics, be they political or personal. These were two big names in the industry who will not be so easily replaced, and their impact, particularly with Simon’s work in the Vietnam War, cannot be measured. But even with these two deaths, the Eye of Sauron remains on Brian Williams as the world retroactively analyzes his entire career.

When it comes to Williams, I don’t feel like I can say anything one way or another, and I don’t know if I can call incorrectly remembering events that took place 12 years ago a damning lie that should ruin a man’s career. My respect of the man’s past work is still set a bit too high on the pedestal for me to simply rip it down like the Berlin Wall. Besides, there are more than enough studies on memory and how we can misremember the events of a traumatic, emotionally charged occurrence, and its certainly possible this happened here. I have never been one to crucify a person for one mistake; we as human beings can try to be as careful as we can, but mistakes are inevitable. If this is truly a case of incomplete recall, then I believe Williams should be excused, forgiven and allowed to return to the fold and the industry.

But if the scrutiny of his career finds other issues, confirmed examples of embellishing, juxtaposing or flat-out falsehood, then a lot of questions have to be asked. Why were his stories not more scrutinized? Why did it take this long for someone to step out and say something? How far back does this go? And, of course, why?

Fact checking in the industry has been failing for years, and this is hardly the first example of it doing so. But pinning all of the little white lies of journalism on that alone is not enough. The majority of the responsibility for telling a truthful tale falls on the storyteller. And in this instance, it seems Brian Williams has failed. Hopefully, this is the first time this has happened, and it will be a slight blemish on a sterling career, instead of the Jenga piece that brings down the tower.

Written by mlogli

February 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Purple Pig too busy chewing the fat to serve food

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After going to a networking event in Chicago, I had a craving for a quick snack that didn’t require me sitting in a crowded douchey sports bar paying for overpriced food. So after some walking around, I realized that there was a place nearby that I had been meaning to try that just might fit the bill. So I went to the Purple Pig.

I have a bit of mixed feelings about this place. On the one hand, the food was pretty good, although I think I ordered the wrong entree.The decor was pretty nice inside and it fit the theme of what they were going for, sort of a wine tasting with pork and cheese involved. So barrels everywhere, warm colors, lots of wood. And sitting at the bar let me see the detailed work of the chefs, which impressed me.

On the other hand, service was absolutely terrible.I sat there for a good 10 minutes trying to flag someone down to get water and a menu. Then I was basically ignored since I wasn’t drinking alcohol or ordering tapas on a consistent basis. And while it’s kind of standard to complain about overpriced food in Chicago, I have to do it anyway, particularly on my entree.

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The JLT. The J stands for Jowl, as in pork jowl.

So here’s the JLT: pork jowl, tomato, frisee, and a fried egg on top. Basically it was an open-faced BLT on brioche bread. It was very tasty, but not very big for $13. And truthfully, the egg was pretty unnecessary. I was enjoying the tomato and frisee combo with the jowl much more than anything the egg was adding to the dish. The frisee was dressed in some sort of vinaigrette that brought a lot of flavor with the tomato’s acidity. And the pork was pretty damn delicious, for the few strips that were on it.

I looked around at a few other people’s entrees, and what the chefs were cooking, and i definitely ordered the wrong food portion-wise. There were definitely better options out there that I didn’t know about. But fortunately, the JLT wasn’t the reason I came here. I came for the sicilian iris.

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Your filling cannot be contained in a simple brioche dough ball.

The sicilian iris is a brioche beignet-type dessert filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. This dessert was featured on Chicago’s Best too. It was the perfect blend of sweet and filling, and god was it rich. Warm, tasty and sweet, it was almost worth the $7. Decent size as well. Course it was sent to the people next to me instead of me, which is part of the crap service complaint I had.

While I might like to try some of the other dishes, I don’t think this place is for me and I probably won’t go again of my own suggestion. But that sicilian iris is definitely worth the try. Maybe if the service was a bit better I would be interested in giving it another go.

Written by mlogli

May 23, 2014 at 3:59 am

Now I don’t usually do this but…

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I need you guys to vote for a company called Hoodle in this poll of hottest Chicago startups.

I know, I know, you may be asking why I am suddenly asking for people to do this. It’s not something I’ve done before and I’m usually not comfortable with it. I’m doing this because I believe in this company and the success it can have, and it definitely needs the extra press it can get from winning this vote.

I’ve been working on Hoodle’s PR, blogging, and marketing since April, and the company is starting to get the traction it needs to take things to the next level. Hoodle is a resource on new home construction that connects home builders, buyers, realtors, and suppliers to make the process of building a new home quicker and easier. It’s growing through Illinois and will soon expand into Texas. I have a really good feeling about this company and I wanted to share it by trying my hardest to get them to win this poll. Please vote!

Written by mlogli

May 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Don’t do it Doug!

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This was quite possibly the worst news one could have received this week. I usually criticize media coverage for not sticking/focusing on more important issues, but this is pretty damn important.

Doug Sohn is closing down Hot Doug’s, effective October 3, 2014.

This is one of my favorite Chicago places, which became more evident when I had seven or eight people tell me on Tuesdays that the place was closing.

Doug, the savant of encased meats, sat behind the counter each day (Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or whenever he felt like it really, since he took a lot of days off) and greeted his customers with charm, with, and a bit of ribbing. No one else does what he does: giving people crazy game meat sausages and duck fat fries in an eclectic setting. The line that often stretched around the corner and into the nearby residential area was hardly a hassle to traverse. The reward at the end was worth it.

Aside from seeing WGN news media there in a more casual setting (looking at you Robert Jordan Jr.), my favorite memory of Hot Doug’s is this. I usually order three dogs and fries when I go: a corn dog, a normal dog, and a game meat dog. Their corn dogs are amazing, and I’m surprised more people don’t get them. Anyway, Doug’s joint is a cash-only restaurant. And while I had the $20 necessary to pay, I only had it in singles. As I keep handing Doug single after single, he asks if I just came from the Admiral and got a good laugh out of me and my friends.

That was also the day I had my favorite sausage at Hot Doug’s: the rattlesnake sausage. Tender, juicy, and oh so delicious, the toppings gave it an extra kick.

By the way, in order of favorite sausages:

  1. Rattlesnake sausage
  2. BLT Dog sausage
  3. Mountain Man (five meats in one!)
  4. Deer sausage
  5. Chicken sausage
  6. Duck sausage w/foie gras (delicious but just too much for me)
  7. All other hot dog joints in existence because nothing else ever has or ever will come close.

I wish Doug the best and understand his reasoning. He had a rough start in Chicago early on, being one of the only restaurants to serve foie gras during the Chicago ban on the ingredient, and he was part of the fight to bring it back. Obviously he won that fight. What isn’t so obvious is how many times I will have to visit Hot Doug’s before it closes.

Goodnight sweet prince of encased meats. Parting with you will be nothing but scrumptious sorrow.

Written by mlogli

May 9, 2014 at 2:45 am

Destihl: weird name, good food!

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God how long has it been since I’ve done a food review? Let’s get back into it!

My brother Tony took me out for a birthday dinner not too long ago. We went to Destihl, a brewpub chain in town that I haven’t tried yet.

Hooooooooooooooly crap. It was pretty good food and some crazy combinations of things. I started off trying their hefeweizen beer. It was okay: a bit watered down and bitter for my taste, but certainly not the worst beer ever. My brother tried their Hoperation Double IPA, and that was much better. It was very balanced for a double IPA and had a good flavor profile.

Beer is nice and all, but it doesn’t make for good visuals. Fortunately the food, does, starting with the first crazy combo: reuben egg rolls.

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Reuben egg rolls: delicious!

It’s the basic ingredients of a reuben in an egg roll! Pastrami, cabbage, applewood smoked bacon, and an spicy brown mustard made with their IPA. They were very good, crunchy out the outside and packed with flavor inside. I didn’t notice the bacon in there and it probably wasn’t necessary. The mustard added good flavor and a small kick.

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Who puts a whole damn pepper on top of mac and cheese?

Now my brother decided to be different and he got their green chile pork mac and cheese: cavatappi pasta, roasted pork, poblano chiles, mozzarella, green chiles and a garlic cream sauce. While it was tasty and creamy, it wasn’t anything too special. The weird part was having that whole roasted jalapeno pepper on top. You can add extra spice to the dish by adding the pepper as you eat, but it just looked kinda weird. Plus it wasn’t very good in practice. Kind of annoying to keep cutting at the pepper. The sauce was very creamy though and tasty.

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I tried to be more artsy in this food porn pic. Sometimes it’s best to be simple, especially when it comes to bacon.

I had to try a burger, and it was a tough decision. I almost got a bison burger with ale onions and maple-smoked white cheddar cheese on an oatmeal bun. But I had to get this one instead. Wagyu beef, white cheddar, bleu cheese, chipotle espresso bbq sauce, potato wedges, and I upgraded the bacon to deep fried jalapeno-bacon. Totally worth the upgrade. I haven’t had deep fried bacon since my last trip to Weiner and Still Champion in Evanston a few years back, but I think Destihl does the fried bacon schtick a lot better. It wasn’t oily, and wasn’t even very heavy. It had a great crunch and flavor to it, and was a great cut. The burger was juicy and cooked to perfection. It had the right amount of cheese and everything. I really loved the chipotle espresso bbq sauce too. It was sweet and tangy, and the flavor stepped up the more you ate of it, revealing a more peppery taste. The fries were crispy and delicious too. My one compaint was the bottom half of the bun was virtually nonexistent. It fell apart the minute I cut the burger in half.

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I’m sorry, were you trying to lose weight? That’s funny.

And then the free birthday dessert came. I didn’t think it was possible, but this was probably the messiest thing I’ve eaten at a restaurant in a long time. There is no graceful way to eat this; it’s just impossible. Not a date food unless you both like looking foolish. It’s smores broken down into a DIY dish. Marshmellows in a cast-iron dish? Check. Melted dark chocolate? Check. Cinnamon-sugar dusted pie dough cookies? Check-a-roonie! And don’t forget cinnamon whipped cream, because how could you do without it?

When I blew out my candle and got powdered sugar everywhere, I knew it was going to be a rough experience. I was going to make actual smores out of the dessert too, but it only came with five cookies, so each smore was open-faced like a horseshoe sandwich. The marshmellows oozed everywhere, the dark chocolate kept falling off the cookie, and the cinnamon whipped cream just slid right off the top. Trying to adjust anything from where it originally landed was impossible. But if you got a full bite of it, man was it good. I couldn’t help but laugh the whole time I was eating it because of how ridiculous it all seemed. It was definitely a fun dessert though.

Destihl was a fun place with extremely dysfunctional food. I would gladly go back and try some of the other crazy stuff on the menu, like lamb meatballs stuffed with cheese or Thai chicken with coconut jasmine rice. It’s definitely unique from the other food in town too and I highly recommend it. Just don’t eat smores with your date.

Written by mlogli

April 10, 2014 at 1:48 am

Newspaper Death Watch

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Despite what some people say, there will always be a place for print journalism.

I used to be able to say that with confidence. Then I found the website Newspaper Death Watch. It tracks the newspapers that are reducing staff or just plain closing down. The site also has content from other places that discusses how badly print media is dying. As a journalist, its pretty damn depressing.

I do believe there is a place for this kind of work, but it is getting harder and harder to find it and produce it. The money is barely there anymore. Even the New York Times probably makes more money selling the flip calendars of its crossword puzzles than it does on its newspaper.

I just hope the end of newspapers doesn’t bring about the end of good journalism.

Written by mlogli

April 8, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Google’s April Fool’s joke hits me in the nostalgia

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WHY ISN’T THIS REAL?!

This would have made 12-year-old me cry with joy. Since Japan hit April 1 before anyone, they got the first taste of this April Fool’s joke. It’s a joke in the sense that Google isn’t hiring a Pokemon master, but the app itself apparently works! Supposedly. Maybe. I don’t want to spread false information, all I know is I am following the directions on this blog (http://thenextweb.com/google/2014/03/31/can-now-find-catch-wild-pokemon-inside-google-maps/) and it’s not working for me. If anyone can confirm this is real let me know!

Written by mlogli

March 31, 2014 at 9:23 pm