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Three Questions with a Bears Fan, Episode VIII: The Multifaceted Maciej Kasperowicz

| July 13th, 2020

Maciej Kasperowicz is one of the most interesting people I know. He makes his money in the coffee game. He’s a DJ. He was single-handedly keeping several movie theater chains afloat pre-pandemic. He’s a passionate sports fan. He is also awaiting trial on The People Versus Pearl Jam, where he’ll argue the popular grunge outfit sucks in front of a jury of his peers. If you missed it, here’s Maciej’s guest column on the movies of 2019. And be sure to give him a follow on Twitter, if that’s your thing.


DBB: You are in the rare group of people whose movie opinions I respect and cherish. So I ask you this. Who is the Alfred Hitchcock in Bears history? (I am providing no further explanation for that question. It’s on you now.)

Maciej: Look, there’s an easy answer to this. An undeniable, legendary talent through multiple phases of a long career, but a fucking asshole in real life? It’s Ditka. But I wanted a more interesting, if less direct answer, so I started thinking of Mike Brown staring into the backfield from the secondary like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, Singletary bearing down on a ball carrier like the airplane in North by Northwest, the 2018 Bears swarming Jared Goff and his receivers like the birds in The Birds, and Hitchcock’s real time experiment in Rope as a metaphor for that half season of Kordell Stewart (that’s admittedly unfair to both Rope, which I like better than Hitchcock did, and Slash, who at least was an incredibly fun video game quarterback, in different ways).

And then Jay Cutler, fresh off his divorce to a woman whose character on The Hills wasn’t that far from a Hitchcock blonde, started making a crime film on his Instagram stories. Granted, with a line like “Thelma there, while she looks nice and sweet, is a savage with loose morals,” Jay seems to be aiming more for early John Huston than Hitchcock. But who knows where his new art may take him.


DBB: First, what do we laymen coffee drinkers not know about the coffee industry that we should? Second, compare the experiences of a perfect cup of coffee to a exhilarating Bears win.

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Three Questions with a Bears Fan, Episode V: “Through the Bookcase” with NoahBrier.com

| March 30th, 2020

I first met Noah Brier in the fall of 2000. And then a bunch of stuff happened in the 20 years since, including him starting this site to stop me from ranting and raving. He drunkenly proclaimed a bathroom was “through the bookcase” in London. We shared a Honeymoon Suite for the Oscars in Frankfurt (because he booked the wrong flight home). We were on a train that split in half in Poland, and ended up befriending the drunkest bowling alley proprietor in Eastern Europe. In Dublin we learned one of life’s great traveling lessons: never start with a finale.

He has a new company.

He has a blog.

He has a newsletter.

He has a Twitter feed that’s become very Coronavirus-specific these days.


DBB: December 2nd 2001. Bears/Lions. Your first experience as a Bears fan. (And one of the great sessions in the history of Ditka’s Restaurant.) I know I feel like I was born into this life but you made the conscious choice as an adult to join the Bears fan parade. Do you regret that decision? If not, what’s been the best part of being a born again Bears fan?

Noah: Well, I can’t say there aren’t moments where I think I should have just become a Giants or Pats fan (growing up in Connecticut both were reasonable options). They’ve put away a collective eight Super Bowls since 2001. But that just seems … boring? Also, compared to the Knicks, who are my only other serious rooting interest, the Bears are a model franchise. So do I regret it? No, not at all. I think the only way to be a sports fan is to believe that all the agony will only make the victory that much sweeter. Plus, I’ve collected some completely absurd memories on trips to Chicago over the last 20 years with you (watching the Bears get destroyed in a literal blizzard, the guy sitting behind us at the playoff game last year giving the worst commentary any person has ever given during a football game, and Joey Harrington—JOEY HARRINGTON!—beating us at Soldier Field in 2006) and there’s no way I would have more fun road-tripping to Foxboro. 


DBB: Our seats for the Cody Parkey game were basically at the exact spot of his double doink. We then went to Lou Malnati’s for dinner and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you that depressed. Where does that experience sit on your depression landscape?

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Three Questions with a Bears Fan, Episode III: Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune

| March 16th, 2020

Reverend Dave and I first met Rick Pearson at the Billy Goat Tavern a bunch of years ago. Now, he’s family. He’s also one of the best political journalists in this country. He covers Chicago the way it demands to be covered. He’s dogged. He’s dubious. He’s one hell of a writer. But fuck all that. He introduced me to my favorite meal in the entire city: Nanna’s Gravy at Cafe Bionda in the South Loop. And that’s what matters.

Here’s Rick.


DBB: I’m surprised I’ve never asked you this during a Billy Goat session, but where did you watch the Bears win the Super Bowl? What was that experience like in Chicago?

Pearson: Ah, but I wasn’t in Chicago then. I was the political editor of the Rockford Register Star, a city about 90 miles northwest of Chicago and a place with a large number of Green Bay Packer fans, given its proximity to the Wisconsin border.

That, of course, gave me a chance to gloat about everything Bears, everything Chicago and I celebrated by hosting a chili party. For someone who grew up during the Gale Sayers, Jack Concannon and Bobby Douglass era (when under Douglass the Bears’ greatest offense threat was pass interference by the other team), I wasn’t sure that I would see such a glorious team, a team for the ages that could back up its swagger on the field. And it was finally a chance to enjoy the success that the friendly(???) neighbors up north often enjoyed.


DBB: You are one of the best political journalists in the country. (Yea, I said it.) But we’re entering a dangerous period for American journalism. Hedge fund takeovers of newspapers. The Athletic buying up sports writers. What do you tell the 22 year-old journalism major at Northwestern or Loyola when they ask you for career advice? Where should they go?

Pearson: I appreciate your confidence but there are several others in political journalism that I look up to and from whom I’ve learned and offered respect. But yes, we are in a tumultuous time for newspapers and journalism as a whole and I do not know where it will lead.

It was difficult attending a Bernie Sanders rally in Grant Park the other day when one of the earlier speakers, a local university professor, brought up the Chicago Tribune as endangered by hedge-fund ownership. I didn’t expect my paper to become part of a rally for a democratic socialist, especially with the long history of the Tribune and its editorial board support for Republicans.

So what do I tell the journalism major? It’s been something I’ve been doing for the last decade. First, the rules of journalism are the same no matter where you are—print, broadcast, photo, video, blog, Twitter, podcast, you name it. You write the truth, you write the facts, you write what you know, you don’t embellish and if you can, you provide the “why.”

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Bears Need to Answer “Yes” to These 3 Questions

| September 11th, 2019

The Chicago Bears have played one game in 2019, and it was soul-crushing.It was also just one game.

Of course they can still be the team we hoped they would be this year, but there are three vital questions they need to answer. If it’s “yes” to all three, I don’t see why Chicago isn’t in the playoffs come January. If the answers are “no”, we could be in for a long season.


Can they stay healthy?

This is both completely obvious, and something the Bears have little control over, but it’s still one of the most crucial pieces to having success this season.

After Thursday it’s clear there’s no regression on the defensive front, and the only way they don’t continue to be one of the most formidable units in the NFL is if key players suffer significant injuries.

Similarly, even though the offense was an absolute embarrassment against Green Bay, we know there’s still plenty of talent on that side of the ball as well. Keep them healthy, and we’re sure to see it. With one game in the books and 15 to go, all we can do is hope the team stays as healthy as possible the rest of the way.


Can they find reliability and consistency at the kicker position?

The Bears’ search for a kicker defined their preseason, and after exhaustive tryouts they decided Eddy Pineiro was their best option.

Pineiro had an inconsistent training camp, a decent preseason, and against Green Bay went 1/1 with a 38 yard field goal before proceeding to send the kickoff out of bounds on the very next play. So far he’s been the very definition of mixed bag.

Pineiro seems like a good kid with a strong leg, and maybe, just maybe has the potential to be an upgrade from last season. That said, do I feel confident that he can march out there and reliably hit 40+ yard field goals in high pressure situations? Not yet, at least. There’s just not a big enough sample size. Fortunately for Pineiro, he has a whole season to prove himself. For both his and the team’s sake, he better.


Can Trubisky be good enough?

It’s been six days now, so there’s no need to belabor the point. Trubisky played like garbage in Week 1. Yes, Nagy called an awful game. Yes, the offensive line was atrocious. But he was still very bad. It was a frustrating, bewildering performance, and he deserves all the criticism leveled at him, but one game doesn’t give us the final answer here.

Because the question isn’t can Trubisky be great, or will he be better than Mahomes or Watson. Those are separate discussions. With the caliber of defense Chicago has they don’t need an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. They proved that last year by going 12-4. What they need is a good QB who is comfortable in Matt Nagy’s offense.

There were multiple times last season where Trubisky looked to be exactly that, including his performance against Green Bay in Week 15 where he threw for 235 yards, two touchdowns, and helped the Bears clinch the division. That game counts in his evaluation just as much as Thursday night does.

We’re slowly getting to the point where we can start to say with some certainty what Trubisky’s baseline performance level is, but we’re not quite there yet. In a month to six weeks, if Trubisky is regularly playing more like the guy who showed up on Thursday than the guy in December of last year the Bears have a serious problem, but it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.

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