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The City File



Ingredients of broadcast journalism. WBBM AM's Donn Pearlman tells his story to the Naperville City Star (July 27): "In 1965, when he worked for $1.25 an hour at a 500-watt station in Lawrence, Kansas...the boss required that he tend a herd of cattle in a field right outside the control room. Right on the program log, next to his broadcast duties, were notes to 'water cattle.' 'Now I'm at a 50,000-watt station,' Pearlman says. 'And I don't worry about stepping in it anymore. But I still worry about putting up with it.'"

The salt trucks are already out, and we forecast scattered dead trees next year. Scientists at the Morton Arboretum's Urban Vegetation Laboratory have found that trees as far as a quarter mile from the East-West Tollway had four times as much salt on their needles in April 1987 as they did the preceding fall--and that was a mild winter (UVL Report, 1989).

The two largest employers in Illinois are the state and federal governments, according to data gathered in the Illinois Economic Report (July 1989), with about 81,000 employees each. Next are Sears (60,000), Osco and Jewel (31,000), and Caterpillar (24,000).

Too much stuff to move? Molly Ivins has two suggestions: "I think it would be helpful if we would all quit moving our stuff," she writes in Ms. (reprinted in Utne Reader, July/August 1989). "When you leave, just leave your television behind and whoever is moving out of wherever it is you are moving into can leave her television behind for you. Your clothes and personal items you can take with you, and that should get us all back to the trunk-of-the-car stage. Then there's a lot of stuff it makes no sense for an individual to own, stuff that should be bought and owned collectively by a neighborhood, say, a block, a floor of an apartment building, or at the least three or four families. Washing machines and dryers, lawn mowers, tools. How often are you going to use an electric stapler? A ladder? Joint ownership of such stuff would help create the sense of community so many of us lack because we move so much."

Why I love rotisserie baseball (the statistical fantasy version of the game), according to Neil Tesser, quoted in Inside Chicago (August 1989): "I was looking for something to cost me $500 to $700 a year, eat up an inordinate amount of my time and make me miserable whenever my players have a bad day."

The view from the wrong side of the desk. Dr. Robert Gatson, a pediatrician at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, tells (in an American Academy of Pediatrics report, Barriers to Care) how he wound up in his own emergency room--as a patient: "I got hurt three years ago.... They brought me to the emergency room and I didn't have my Blue Cross-Blue Shield card. And in this institution, where I am a full-time member, they said to me, 'Say, where's your card?' I said to them, 'You know, I can't deal with this right now. I just want to go inside, I want to get some oxygen.' Luckily, I knew the system and I was able to say, 'It's on your computer system. Look it up on your computer.' Have you ever gone into a strange emergency room? It's like pulling teeth just to get through the system--even in the best of systems."

"I'm very pleased to say that we've given very heavily to culture, and when that ten-year [cultural arts] program is over, we're going to give a hell of a lot less! That's the way it should be," says Brooks McCormick, former executive-committee chair of the Chicago Community Trust, in its Trust Quarterly (Summer 1989). "It should be changing, it should be smart enough to change regularly."

Accounting and auditing, computer operations, insurance adjusting, bartending, baking, typesetting, and bus driving are all once-male-dominated jobs that women have moved into in recent years--but not because genuine equality has broken out in the workplace, says U. of I. sociologist Barbara Reskin. Either men started bailing out "as a result of deteriorating working conditions or occupational rewards," or the field grew faster than the pool of qualified men. The message, according to Reskin, is not "you've come a long way, baby," but "he don't want it, she can have it."

Highly sophisticated Chicago film processors at work, voodoo dolls at the ready. Writing in In-Sync (Summer 1989), newsletter of the Community Film Workshop of Chicago, Andrea Leland discusses laboratory difficulties in producing Loa, or Fallen Angel, Haiti's Cultural Conflict: "The conformer refused to work on the piece because of the subject, the labs found scratches they couldn't get out and attributed the problems to the subject matter of the film."

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

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