News & Politics » City File

The City File



Heavy reading. From the Animals' Agenda (November 1990): "The Glendale, Calif., library boasts the nation's largest collection of cat-related art, music, and literature, a total of over 1,200 pounds."

"Those who still harbor the Marquette Park stereotype probably haven't been around in years, if ever," according to James Capraro of the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, interviewed by Michael Ervin in The Neighborhood Works (October-November 1990). "These days he sees black, white and Latino teens playing basketball together on Marquette Park courts. Says Father James Friedel, pastor of St. Clare of Montefalco Church, 5443 S. Washtenaw, 'It used to be that the blacks would play on Saturday and the whites would play on Sunday...'"

Forget about the decline in SAT scores--here's real evidence of a decline in brainpower among the general public: mass-transit ridership in the Chicago area dropped from 817 million rides in 1980 to 678 million rides in 1989. The big loser was the CTA (down from 697 million to 569 million), followed by commuter rail (82 down to 71) and suburban bus (38.2 down to 37.9).

"The U.S. now spends more money each day to pay for its oil imports than the federal government spent during all of 1989 on R&D for either renewable energy or energy conservation," reports Public Citizen. Since the federal government has abdicated its responsibility, PC suggests that we look to the states, and specifically to the northeast: the lowest per capita energy consumption comes from New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Well behind, in 24th place, is Illinois.

Quotation least likely to be found in a major plug for rechargeable batteries, but that nevertheless did appear in a recent promotion of Gates Energy Products: "'Power, like a desolating pestilence, / Pollutes whate'er it touches' Shelley, 1813."

Why we can't afford rock salt, according to David Morris in Building Economic Alternatives (Fall 1990): "The price [paid by the consumer] of this common de-icer is a penny or two a pound, about $20 a ton. But its cost [to the community as a whole] is far higher. Rock salt corrodes metal, eating away cars, bridges, even the steel rods that reinforce concrete. Rock salt pollutes ground water and destroys roadside vegetation. In 1976 the EPA estimated the cost of corrosion at 40 cents a pound. A New York State agency in the early 1980s added the cost of environmental damage and arrived at an astonishing cost of 80 cents a pound, $1600 a ton."

Periodicals whose names we would never have guessed: the quarterly trade journal Candy Bar Gazebo.

Anyone for a little religious war? The New York Times (October 22) quotes a Hong Kong student on that island's seven-story bronze Buddha: "This statue is going to make Hong Kong a mecca for Buddhists."

The only thing you can throw out is the wastebasket. "All of the model [institutions] will recycle materials to the extent possible," according to the Central States Bulletin (August 1990) account of downstate Wilmington's "model community" plan. "This includes the recycling of oil and antifreeze in the car dealership. The library will even recycle paper from books ready to be discarded and will offer patrons out-of-date periodicals instead of trashing them. The florist will compost plant remains and dry old flowers for dry flower arrangements. The model city hall will use washable mugs in place of styrofoam in offices and at meetings, recycle all materials that are recyclable locally and reuse scrap paper for notepads."

More crack, please. From the Illinois Georgist (Spring/Summer 1990): "Some people use drugs to help expand their awareness; others adopt Eastern religious practices. But there are a few thousand people in this world of ours that have expanded awareness because they studied Henry George's works."

Dept. of conspicuous consumption. Amount Princess Diana has spent on clothing, per week, for the past ten years: $4,062 (Diana's Diary).

Who reads what? According to a poll by the Management Association of Illinois, based in suburban Westchester, 82 percent of Illinois firms recruit managers and professionals through a metropolitan daily paper. But when they want clerical or office help, 81 percent of the firms go to neighborhood newspapers.

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

Add a comment