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The City File



The world's first computer music was composed at the University of Illinois 30 years ago, when research chemist Lejaren Hiller "taught" the university's ILLIAC to compose a piece for string quartet. That piece, Illiac Suite, will be one of several performed during the 1987 International Computer Music Conference August 23-26 at the university's Urbana-Champaign campus.

Chicago is "not an easy city for outsiders," says Washington, D.C., native Amina Dickerson, executive director of the DuSable Museum (Black Enterprise, May 1987). "It's hard for people to accept other ideas from other places, but it's a good place to pay some dues, because you certainly will be a tough cookie when you leave."

If federal funds go to bail out lakefront property owners, some local groups feel they should get at least a share of the jobs, reports Arsenio Oloroso Jr. in The Neighborhood Works (July 1987). "Trade unions in Chicago were angry that one private contractor engaged by the [Army Corps of Engineers] to build revetments on the North Side was neither unionized nor from Illinois. . . . In the [Chicago Shoreline Protection Commission] meetings so far, there has been no discussion on guaranteeing lakefront construction jobs for the poor and unemployed."

Hey, neighbor, scoop that poop! "The Oz Park Advisory Council is working on a solution to the problem created by inconsiderate dog walkers," reports the Friends of the Parks Newsletter (Summer 1987). "Through a program called Operation FIDO (Fight Inconsiderate Dog Owners) the council members are vigilantly correcting the effects of less-than-thoughtful dog owners by applying peer pressure on dog owners."

Not that you'll be in a position to shop around, but if you suffer heart failure and wind up in a Chicago hospital, your average bill on discharge could vary from as low as $4,645 (Cook County) or $5,090 (Resurrection) to as high as $11,946 (University of Chicago) or $12,256 (Saint Anne's). The Illinois Health Care Cost Containment Council's Consumer Guide to Charges at Illinois Hospitals, with these and many more figures, is available free from 1-800-325-9564.

Evanston should explicitly promote integrated neighborhoods if it wants them to remain that way, says Loyola University sociologist Philip Nyden in a recent study of southeast Evanston (south of Main and east of Asbury). The area is 45 percent black and growing--but, says Nyden, "The fact that blacks are moving into the area is not negative; this is an integrated area. Concern lies in the pace of change. . . . While the neighborhoods we studied certainly do not seem to be in any serious decline, homeowner and renter anxiety appear to be high enough to warrant concern among city officials."

The other 17,500 could have been drunk at the time. UIC psychologists David J. McKirnan and Peggy Peterson circulated more than 21,000 questionnaires in Chicago's gay community and got nearly 3,500 completed forms back. Among their conclusions: "There is no more alcohol use among gays and lesbians than among the general population," but they acknowledge the great difficulty of knowing whether those who answered the questionnaire are representative of all those who did not.

America meets the educational challenges of the 1990s: "We don't waste your time teaching things that aren't going to be on the test," says John Katzman of the Princeton Review, the organization that claims to raise its clients' Scholastic Aptitude Test scores an average of 150 points. "We look at the SAT as an object unto itself. You'll learn math and English almost as a side effect of the course, but if you come away with a real appreciation of Shakespeare and your score's the same . . . I've failed!"

The big squeeze. Harper's (August 1987) ever-informative "Index" reports that the productivity of U.S. manufacturing workers has risen an average of 4 percent a year since 1981. In that same time, their hourly wage has risen, too, but much less--an average of 0.8 percent.

Teen athletes: if your parents smoke, don't go home. Research announced in Pediatrics (July 1987) reveals that when nonsmoking teenage athletes were exposed to two hours of cigarette smoke a week from parents or friends, they suffered decreased lung function and coughed four times as much as those not exposed.

The color of culture. Most of the trustees of Chicago's big cultural organizations are white, according to a Chicago Reporter survey (July 1987). The two boards with the greatest minority representation--besides the DuSable Museum of African American History (92 percent black)--are the Adler Planetarium (13 percent black) and the Chicago Historical Society (11.5 percent black and Hispanic).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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