By Eric Neel
Page 2 columnist

As first reported in the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday, the Chicago Cubs have hired Broadway-caliber lighting and scenery experts to help them block the ballpark view of the one rooftop club refusing to share its profits with the team.

Twelve Wrigley-area rooftop sites graciously accepted the Cubs' offer to take 17 percent of their gross revenues for the next 20 years. Skybox on Waveland, however, a club directly down the third base line, rejected the offer, forcing the Cubs to take further action.

Wrigley Field
Some rooftop Cubs fans aren't gonna be happy this season.

"We're confident we can block the views of the lone rooftop without distracting our fans or impeding the views of our rooftop partners," Cubs president Andy MacPhail told the Sun-Times.

MacPhail would not discuss specifics Sunday, though Frank Stallone, choreographer for the unfairly neglected "Saturday Night Fever" sequel "Staying Alive," explains that "there are all kinds of things you can do with dry ice, strobes and lasers, dude," and magician David Copperfield, best known for the illusion of once being engaged to supermodel Claudia Schiffer, suggests that "the whole field can be made to disappear, if that's the way they want to go; I think it would actually be quite marvelous!"

On Monday, rumors swirled throughout the Windy City that the move to block the rooftop views is actually just Phase One of the club's "Take Back the Cubs" program, to be implemented throughout the 2004 season.

Sources close to sources close to the organization indicate plans are in the works to discourage area restaurants from selling beer and hot dogs, to have the streets surrounding the park made toll roads, to tent the stadium on off days, and to administer a short, sharp electric shock to citizens thinking of, speaking of, or in any way picturing Wrigley Field in their minds' eyes.

"The free ride is over," one said. "We can't have people just dipping into valuable Cubs resources at will; we've known for years now that people all over the city have been sneaking illegitimate Cub glimpses and having unsanctioned Cub thoughts, and it's time we finally put a stop to it."

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is dubious, saying, "You can't prevent people from lusting in their hearts. Not even your own fans." However, Attorney General John Ashcroft, who suspects Carter is a closet Cub fan who may in fact be guilty of routinely ordering Air Force One to alter its midwest flight plans to fly over Wrigely Field in the late 1970s, has little doubt the Cubs can control all forms of access to the park: "What Carter's talking about, that was before the Patriot Act," he says. "Nowadays, it would be easy."

Things are still in the planning stages, but "Take Back the Cubs" may also include the confiscation of unpermissioned snapshots, a sweep of diaries suspected to contain Wrigely-inspired memories, the burning of scorecards filled out with pencils other than those sold inside the park, and a split of the proceeds for any Sammy Sosa bobblehead or Mark Prior babushka giveaway dolls sold on eBay.

"If folks decide not to share in the proceeds," the source said, "we may have to arrange for higher cable modem bills or for the arrival of some trojan horse viruses, but I want to assure people that only in the most extreme circumstances would we consider knocking down their doors in the dead of night and smashing the little dolls to bits."

Grand Canyon
Take a look at it now -- the Grand Canyon could be covered up before you know it.

In a related story, the Department of the Interior has announced plans to work with environmental artist Cristo on a full-length cover for the Grand Canyon.

"I've wrapped houses of parliament and laid fabric fences across great fields," Cristo said. "But this is by far my greatest challenge."

"I feel for MacPhail," park ranger Will Richards said. "The helicopter tour guys around here balked at the rate increase in our take on their flights, too. We had to do something. Plus, people come around here all the time with their little canvases, easels, and pastel sets, and just set up shop on the lip of the canyon and draw pictures like they own the place ... how long were we supposed to let that go on?"

At this point, there are no plans to ban squirrels, coyotes, or birds from the Canyon, though Richards suggested, "We're tracking their movements, you can be sure of that, and if we can just find some way to funnel their furry little butts through a turnstile or a gate or something, I think we can double park revenues in the next fiscal year. It's within reach."

Meanwhile, plans to surround the Washington Monument with a curtain are proceeding in the nation's capital, and construction has begun on a giant sponge that will absorb the whole of the Pacific Ocean should visitors attempt to frolic in the surf or gaze upon the sunset without authorization.

Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.




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TAKING BACK THE CUBS