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Remembering Von Freeman

Chicago remembers jazz saxophonist Von Freeman, learns and more about Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s stint at the Mayo Clinic. Plus, the R. Kelly cruise has been canceled.

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Jazz great Von Freeman performing at Chicago’s New Apartment Lounge in 2005.

Jazz great Von Freeman performing at Chicago’s New Apartment Lounge in 2005.


Jazz great Von Freeman performing at Chicago’s New Apartment Lounge in 2005. (Flickr/Vin60)

Lead story: Chicago music lovers are mourning the loss of jazz saxophonist Von Freeman, who died over the weekend at age 88. Freeman, who was admired by jazz greats like Miles Davis, went out of his way to avoid the spotlight; he rarely left Chicago even though his talents indicated he could have had a career alongside the likes of Davis or Louis Armstrong. Numerous obits have popped up in the hours since the announcement of his death. Whet Moser at Chicago Magazine has an excellent piece as does Chicago Tribune art critic Howard Reich. Also worthwhile are this piece at NPR and this excellent report by Richard Steele for our own Afternoon Shift.

Also: File this under “what in the hell is wrong with people?” Just after a man was arrested for shooting a pellet gun at a Morton Grove mosque, police announced that a two-liter bottle containing acid exploded outside an Islamic school in Lombard. And this is only locally, not taking into account other recent attacks on mosques in places like Missouri and Oklahoma. All of the attacks come in the wake of the August 5 shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. Islamic groups are understandably nervous, especially given all of the above attacks have taken place during Ramadan. Feeding the fire, of course, are the likes of Illinois’ crazy uncle U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who went on an anti-Islam tirade last week, because everyone knows that Christians have never once used their religion to justify violence. Nope. Never ever.

And then: The Mayo Clinic continued to trickle out details about U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. yesterday when it announced that the congressman is being treated for bipolar disorder, possibly in connection with gastric bypass surgery he had in 2004. The Wall Street Journal has a bit more background on Jackson’s surgery and how it could affect the disorder. But even as Jackson undergoes treatment, there’s still business to attend to in his district, particularly his much-touted airport plan in Peotone. With Jackson suddenly disappearing over two months ago, there are no contingency plans in place for issues like this. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t wish Jackson well in his treatment and recovery, but it once again draws attention to the secrecy that surrounded his disappearance and the way that secrecy around his absence left his constituents in the lurch.

RIP: In addition to Von Freeman’s death this past weekend, the world lost two legends yesterday of very different stripes: Helen Gurley Brown and Johnny Pesky. Brown was a publishing great, both a writer and the former editor of Cosmopolitan for over 30 years. She will be best remembered for her work in the 1960s, bringing to the world’s attention the shocking revelation that unmarried women also enjoy sex. Pesky, on the other hand, was a more regional icon: He was a member of the Boston Red Sox organization for several decades, first as a player, then as a coach and broadcaster. The right field foul pole in Fenway Park, “Pesky’s Pole,” remains named for him.

Elsewhere: So much for that post-announcement bump: One poll puts presumed GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan’s approval rating below that of legendary bumpkin Dan Quayle … A new study shows that more drivers than ever aren’t even bothering with a test drive before buying a new car. Screw it, right? The Mayans said we’re all going to die before Christmas anyway … There will be no R. Kelly cruise … The co-founder of the company that makes those hideous Crocs shoes your dad wears was arrested for DUI. During the bizarre incident he blamed his “girlfriend,” singer Taylor Swift, and threatened officers … Coincidentally, last night Swift announced the October 22 release of her fourth album, Red, and revealed the album’s lead single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” The song makes no mention of anyone who wears Crocs. Trust me. I listened to the song 15 times. For research.

Looking ahead: Police are warning residents of a potential serial rapist on the West Side … Authorities are calling a death at a Gold Coast motel a homicide as their investigation continues … Chicago gas prices are getting higher because of ethanol … Groupon profits were down in the second quarter but execs aren’t panicking … Dueling autopsies will continue to be the focus of the Drew Peterson murder trial this week.

Sports: As we head into week two of the NFL preseason, there’s no real sign the lockout of refs will end so get prepared for some awful calls … The Chicago Fire are preparing for post-Pappa life … The Reader’s Mick Dumke is having a rough post-Olympics come-down … Here’s a great feature on the Cubs Dixieland Band … Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers faces a new controversy stemming from the University of North Carolina’s decision to post his college transcripts online.

Finally: LEGO turns 80 this year and besides topping this LEGO replica of Wrigley Field, the best way to celebrate is by watching this 17-minute video celebrating the company’s history. [via The High Definite]

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