Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: Becoming a lover of the covers

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions

People around me who have heard me singing the old Whitney Houston hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’’ can blame Charles.

No, not Charles Richards, the former owner of this newspaper. I’m talking about a store I discovered in Naperville called 2nd and Charles.

This is one of the coolest stores I’ve been to.

Most the stuff is used but it’s a huge store with huge selection of CDs, DVDs, books, comic books, t-shirts, records, electronics and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. I could spend a week in the store and not be finished.

There are more than 20 of these stores located in America, but only three in the Midwest and one in Illinois. The Naperville store, located at 336 South Route 59, had been open for just 10 months according to the guy who checked me out. I mean, the guy who took my money after a purchased a CD, not a guy who was...ah forget it.

About that purchase?

I love going into a store and finding something I have never seen before and for some reason, a live David Byrne CD from Austin Texas had escaped me all of these years until my inaugural trip to the store.

The live set featured some of Byrne’s solo work and some of his Talking Heads tunes. But at the end, he throws in a pretty cool cover of Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’’ that makes a song I really never cared about into something I’ve been singing or whistling to for a week.

So if any developers in this area want to bring a really neat store to the south suburbs, give Charles a call.

HEADLINE – Speaking of covers…

The burning Byrne cover reminds me of some other unlikely cover combinations that work surprisingly well.

To me a good cover tune is one that is radically different and better than the original, whether I liked the original or not.

Case-in-point – pop tart Britney Spears’ “Oops!...I did it again’’ is a catchy but disposable tune that was covered by Richard Thompson. Thompson is a guitar genius whose lyrics can be twisted, edgy, haunting and occasionally creepy. His version and arrangement give the song a whole new dynamic.  Thompson has covered everything from Spears to forgotten 16th Century songs with more hits than misses.

The Clash’s punk-pop hit “Train In Vain” is an outstanding song on its own merit. But Dwight Yoakum’s hillbilly version and Annie Lennox’s gospel-tinged version of the same song actually trump the Clash’s version.

 The White Stripes’ edgy “Seven Nation Army” sounds strangely wonderful by the Oak Ridge Boys and their country-pella, Bosshoss by its yee-hah style and Marcus Collins and his bluesy approach.

Speaking of Nation, my all-time favorite desecration of a song is Queen’s rocker “One Vision’’ turned into “Geburt Einer Nation” an German-style anthem by Yugoslavian industrial snarlers Laibach.

HEAD – Ultimate cover band

While the Ramones are my favorite band and they do some great covers of 50s and 60s songs such as “Palisades Park” and “Surfin’ Bird’’ the ultimate cover band in my mind is Pearl Jam.

For those who think that Eddie Vedder and the boys nothing but a bunch of serious grungers, you might be surprised that in their concerts they let loose with some pretty incredible covers.

They tackle a whole lot of songs and styles including the Beatles (“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”), Generation X (a scaled down “Gimme Some Truth”), Otis Redding (“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”), Devo (“Whip It”) plus multiple songs by the Who, Ramones and Split Enz.

Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” was never one of my faves, but Eddie’s haunting voice and a guitar is all that is needed to turn this into something special.

And to go full circle, recently Willie Nelson turned in a brilliant cover of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.”


Another black Sabbath: Three doctors die in Palos Hills plane crash one week after two nuns and a senior die in Oak Lawn car crash

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Page-1-Plane-possibliltyPhoto by Jeff Vorva Local police and federal officials work the scene Monday morning.

Palos Hills resident Michael D’Alessio was on his computer Oct. 5 when he started watching video of the fatal car crash in Oak Lawn that claimed three lives.

One week later, he and his family were up close and personal with a tragedy a lot closer to home.

A plane crashed in a small field in the 10100 block of 86th Court in a residential area Sunday night claiming the lives of three doctors from Kansas in the plane.  No one from the area was injured and no major damage occurred to any of the houses.

Police say they were dispatched to the scene at 10:40 p.m. D’Alessio lives a block away and said he was able to survey some of the wreckage before police arrived.  It marks two Sundays in a row that a major accident in the area claimed three lives.

“This is back-to-back tragedies,” D’Alessio said. “It’s crazy.’’

Sunday’s plane crash claimed the lives of 34-year-old Tausif Tehman, 36-year-old Ali Kanchwala and his wife, 37-year-old Maria Javaid. Rehman was a neurosurgeon and Kanchwala was a pulmonologist who both worked at a hospital in Topeka while Javaid was a cardiologist in Kansas City, Kan.

National Transportation Safety Board officials and local police said that the Beechcraft Baron took off from Midway Airport and was heading to Lawrence, Kan., and crashed at approximately 10:40 p.m. Official said the plane was near vertical when it crashed into the field.

“Dr. Rehman and Dr. Kanchwala were extremely valued, highly skilled and beloved members of our staff,” said Randy Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka said in a statement. “We are heartbroken. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these individuals and the staff who worked closely with them. These physicians were deeply committed to their patients and to bringing the best of care to our community. We also extend our deepest sympathies to the Providence Medical Center staff for the loss of Dr. Javaid.”

Officials are speculating that the pilot, Rehman, may have been looking for a spot to land the craft that would not have injured anyone.

Members of the Palos Hills community breathed a sigh of relief that it didn’t claim more lives.

“Everything was contained to an empty wooded lot between two homes,” D’Alessio said. “This whole area is a densely populated area. It’s unfortunate that there was a loss of life but it could have been much, much worse.’’

He then pointed to an apartment complex area along 86th Avenue and said, “Could you imagine if it crashed there? We were very lucky.’’

D’Alessio had an earwitness account of the tragedy.

“I was asleep and I was awakened by the sound of a prop plane decelerating,” D’Alessio said. “It was r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r and then there was a split second of silence and then boom. I said, ‘a plane crashed.’ I just knew it.

“I ran outside expecting to see smoke and flames and fire and hysteria and there was nothing. It was just quiet. I said that we had to call 911. I didn’t know if I was dreaming. Our neighbors were looking around. We saw some activity and ran to the scene. There was wreckage all over the place. I happened to be standing next to a seat from the plane.’’

His wife, Sue, was up watching television when the crash occurred.

“I heard it and I felt it – you could feel it in the house, it was so low,” Sue D’Alessio said.

Their daughter, Amanda, said she posted on Twitter that it sounded like a car crashed near their home. Then she found out what really happened and posted a few photos online of the wreckage. The Stagg student soon started hearing from various television stations and news outlets asking her for her photos.



  • Written by Jeff Vorva

jv taljk Jeffs Col Impressions

Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: As RIchards exits, new owners hope to make their Mark

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions

“Every issue of the paper, you have to give your readers at least one thing they can’t get anywhere else.’’

Those were the words of wisdom from Charles Richards.

The guy who used to own this newspaper.

The guy whose family owned this newspaper and the Regional for decades.

It’s no longer Charles in Charge around here.

On Friday, Richards signed the papers that sold the papers (and a building that includes everything from the press to the rusty paper clips in a drawer that probably hasn’t been open since the 1970s) to a group led by Mark Hornung and Steve Landek. Regional Publishing will be known as Southwest Regional Publishing Company – or SRPC.

One day, we hope that we will be as popular and well known as other folks who share those initials – the Secure Remote Payment Council, the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, the Saudi Research and Publishing Company, the Stones River Pony Club, and, of course, the Stillwater Rifle and Pistol Club.

For now, we go through a transition. It’s both a scary and exciting time for us.

We think the new owners like what we’re doing here. We think that we’ve been making strides informing and entertaining our readers at these two papers. And we know darn well that it’s a lot more than once that we give our readers something they can’t get anywhere else.

Amy Richards will stay on as the publisher, which is good because we know her and she knows us and she knows the nine communities that the two papers serve. It’s not like some hotshot from parts unknown is going to come in here making a bunch of demands and suggestions even though he or she couldn’t find Harlem Avenue if you gave them a GPS.

So there will be a Richards still overseeing the ship.

Meanwhile, for Charles it will be a bittersweet first week away from a business that’s been in his blood for years.

A big part of him will miss it. A small part of him will be glad to be rid of all the headaches of running in a newspaper in these lousy economic times.

Hornung, on the other hand, appears to be an aggressive go-getter who will be dishing out the headaches rather than receiving them. The other papers he runs – including the nearby Southwest News Herald and Desplaines Valley News – have a heck of a lot of ads and the papers have a nice look to them.

The past couple of weeks have been historic, emotional and frankly, a little weird for us with the changes afoot. But we will soldier on and keep trying to give the readers a reason to look forward to Thursdays.

As for Charles? I’ve only known him for two years and while most of the people here have known him longer and have better stories to tell, I’ll leave you with this one:

In late July, he was in the middle of some important business and as he was about to go into an office for a power meeting, he said something loudly. Me being one of the human jukeboxes in the office, I sang whatever line it was that he said.

Well, that didn’t go over too well.

He shouted “Shut up!” to me and slammed the door. There were chuckles from the others in the office about that. Vorva was in trouble.

A few minutes later, he came out with a rolled up newspaper and I was thinking “Geez, I wonder if he’s going to hit me with that paper…” He said in a stern voice “Let me tell you something…”

I was all ready for a lecture about either office decorum or about how bad my singing voice is.

Instead he spent a few minutes complimenting me on how much he loved a previous issue of the paper.

You never know what you are going to get from Charles.

I do know this -- I received some interesting insight on the world of newspapers then and now from the man. I didn’t always agree with him, but I learned from him. And so did a lot of others in this building.

The Reporter and Regional will go on without him. But a part of him will stay with this place forever.

And in his honor, I will do my best to keep giving the readers something they can’t get anywhere else.


Four face drug and assault charges after violent sting operation in OL

  • Written by Bob Rakow

In a story eerily similar to a script of “Breaking Bad,” four men are facing federal drug charges after being nabbed last Friday in an undercover sting in Oak Lawn, authorities said.

Charges were filed in federal court against Abelardo Dominguez, 59, of Mexico; Francisco Narvaez, 29, of Chicago; Peter Pietrzak, 44; and Montrail Key, 37, both of Joliet, for attempting to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance—methamphetamine, according to a criminal complaint.
Narvaez and Key also were charged with forcibly assaulting a Drug Enforcement Agency agent, the complaint said.
The incident took place last Friday afternoon at 105th Street and Cicero Avenue near the Huck Finn Restaurant moments after Drug Enforcement Agency agents conducted a transaction with the four offenders in the parking lot of McDonald’s, the complaint said.
Following the transaction and a brief pursuit, two of the four offenders attempted to run over federal agents with their vehicles and agents fired their weapons, striking Narvaez, who was treated at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn before being released into police custody, the complaint said.
The altercation began after several DEA surrounded the offenders’ two vehicles and exited their cars.
Narvaez put the pickup truck he was driving in reverse and smashed into the car driven by Key. Key accelerated, causing the car to jump the curb and head toward two agents, the compliant said.
One agent was pinned against a light pole, and the car then headed toward a second agent. The pickup truck also jumped the curb and drove directly toward the agents, who opened fire on both vehicles, the compliant said.
The pickup then fled, heading west on 105th Street. Moments later it turned down a dead-end street, where Narvaez fled on foot, the complaint said. Pietrzak was arrested in the back of the truck. Narvaez was arrested moments later in a nearby residential area, according to the complaint.
Dominguez was arrested at McDonald’s. The other car, driven by Key, was stopped 15 minutes later on 95th Street by Evergreen Park police. Key was arrested at the scene, the complaint said.
The four men remain in custody.
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation goes back to early August when agents from the DEA’s Mexico office informed Chicago agents of a narcotics broker in Chicago.
The DEA agents in Mexico were told by a confidential informant, who works for a Mexican drug cartel, that the informant was instructed to go to Chicago to find a buyer for 10 pounds of methamphetamine, the complaint said.
The informant told the DEA that he knew Dominguez, a drug broker, as he was a long-time friend of his from Mexico, the complaint said.
The informant traveled to Chicago on Aug. 21 and informed Dominguez that he had 10 pounds of methamphetamine to sell. Dominguez expressed an interest in purchasing the drug, which cost $15,000 per pound, the complaint said.
On Oct. 1, Dominguez called the informant telling him he was prepared to purchase the drug. The informant arranged a transaction between Dominguez and an associate, who in reality was an undercover DEA agent, according to the complaint.
On Oct. 2, Dominguez called the undercover agent and agreed to meet him the following day at an Oak Lawn coffee shop. Dominguez told the undercover agent that he did not have enough money to purchase 10 pounds of methamphetamine, but could get enough money to buy four or five pounds, the complaint said.
The undercover agent agreed to sell the smaller amount at $15,000 per pound. Dominguez said he needed to collect the money from a couple of associates and would return shortly.
Several hours later, Dominguez and the agent agreed during a phone call to meet at McDonald’s at 105th Street and Cicero Avenue to consummate the transaction, the complaint said.
Dominguez arrived at McDonald’s at 2 p.m. in a pick-up truck driven by Narvaez, the complaint said. They entered the restaurant and met the undercover agent.
Moments later, another car, driven by Key with Pietrzak as a passenger, arrived at McDonald’s. Pietrzak, who was carrying a medium-sized drawstring bag, placed it in the pickup truck, the complaint said.
The agent walked with Dominguez to the pickup truck. He observed five bundles of cash in the bag in denominations of $100s and $20s. After seeing the cash, the undercover agent called a colleague and instructed him to bring the methamphetamine to parking lot, the complaint said.
In fact, the agent delivered a cooler full of “sham” drugs packaged to resemble methamphetamine.
The cooler containing the sham drugs was placed in the pickup truck and Dominguez drove away as did the undercover agents. Dominguez then re-entered McDonald’s.

Moments later, the pickup truck, driven by Narvaez with Pietrzak in the rear seat, exited the McDonald’s lot, the complaint said. A car, driven by Key, drove behind the pickup truck.