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The City File



They have such nice pictures in them, don't you think? Richard Sax in a recent Distinctive Taste newsletter: "Americans sit down less and less to a meal at home. Yet, there are more cookbooks being published than ever--600 to 800 new titles each year."

The problem, as described by Patrick Barry in Chicago Enterprise (January 1990): "In 1970, only 16 of Chicago's 77 community areas had more than 20 percent of households living below the poverty line and only one, Oakland on the south lakefront, was an 'extreme poverty' area where more than 40 percent of families were poor. Ten years later, 26 communities were designated poverty areas, nine of them extreme poverty areas." One solution: "The city must build its first 'model' neighborhood to begin learning the delicate process of inner-city redevelopment. The Near West Side was considered a likely candidate two years ago when the proposed Bears stadium gave residents some leverage, but the idea dried up with the stadium plans. Kenwood was another talked-of site, with Dearborn Park developer Ferd Kramer and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization suggesting a massive mixed-income community. Such plans keep falling apart because the developers haven't found ways to build the projects without displacing poor residents, and the poor haven't developed much faith in the government agencies and businesses that would be their development partners."

Limited market. Want ad in the Illinois Association of School Boards News Bulletin (December 18): "For sale: 90 band uniforms in good condition. Jackets have concert blue overlay and gold marching overlay with letter O."

"There is no reason for Bush to be overjoyed about the European revolution," writes Len Ackland in the Hyde Park-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (January/ February 1990). "And those who whine that he isn't are missing the point. Bush and the American establishment, of both political parties, have every reason to feel threatened by the real import of what is taking place in Eastern Europe"--the triumph of democracy, not of capitalism as such. "If the power of democracy were recognized as the message emanating from Eastern Europe, Americans might be inspired to reactivate our own democracy in order to address societal problems including drugs, violence, homelessness, inadequate medical care, a dismal educational system, and a growing disparity between rich and poor. After all, we have the framework of democracy--we just haven't been using it."

Recycling doesn't go better with Coke, which has begun "bottling" its sugared caffeine in bimetal cans (worth 1 to 2 cents per pound) instead of aluminum cans (30 to 40 cents per pound)--making alley scroungers even poorer, and saddling recycling centers with the costly burden of separating the two kinds. According to Uptown Recycling, "revenue from all-aluminum cans comprises a significant portion of our annual income--and that of most recycling centers. As bimetal cans replace an increasing percentage of all-aluminum beverage cans, this revenue will decrease"--and with no other source of revenue, they will have to cut back just when landfills are filling up.

Lead paragraphs we'd have to agree with, from Going Your Way (Late Fall 1989): "What is significant about 1989? The 20 year anniversary of the first moon landing for one; the 20 year anniversary of the White Album and Woodstock; 50 years on from WWII. By comparison with those, the idea that the Carpool Hotline is celebrating its 10th birthday is kind of 'ho-hum'..."

Nice weather we've been having lately, according to state climatologist Wayne Wendland of the Illinois State Water Survey: he says Illinois' average temperature and precipitation during the 1980s were close to the 1951-1980 average. 1982 and 1985 were a little cool, 1987 a bit warm, but "otherwise, statewide mean temperatures were very close to the long-term average--even in 1988, which was perceived to be abnormally hot."

Obviously a country whose government we should promptly overthrow. "At the flick of a dial or at a corner newsstand, Nicaraguans can obtain an extraordinary range of political opinion, from far right to far left, with greater ease than in most countries, including the US," writes Mark Cook in Extra! (October/November 1989). "These include three far right Managua radio stations, rightist newspapers like La Prensa and Paso a Paso, the centrist La Cronica, and several anti-Sandinista papers on the far left. Opposition parties share a half-hour per day of free TV time, and can buy more. There are half-hour TV debates, three times a week, to which all parties are invited."

Dept. of maximum understatement, from U.S. Communist Party national chairman Gus Hall, looking forward to 1990 (People's Daily World, January 4): "It will be a new phenomenon that....the job of general secretary of Communist Parties will include some occupational hazards."

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

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