"The personal journalism that Chicago newspapers were famous for [a century and more ago] has now shifted over to television," writes Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books (September 25). "Oprah is the modern Eugene Field, folksily homiletic, dispensing tart street wisdoms. Studs Terkel, in his long-running radio interviews for WFMT, is the equivalent of Carl Sandburg in his labor-reporting days--radical, but in ways that connect with ordinary people....The prurient scandal stories...now appear on talk shows like those hosted from Chicago by Jenny Jones and Jerry Springer."
At least they know better. In a recent study Julie Zerwic of the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues surveyed 105 patients hospitalized with heart disease. "Only 15 percent of patients with high blood pressure recognized high blood pressure as a cause, while 64 percent of smokers recognized smoking as a cause of their heart disease."
"The name Old Town School of Folk Music was a barrier for African Americans but not for Latinos," says executive director Jim Hirsch, describing what the school learned from focus-group research funded by the Joyce Foundation ("Work in Progress," August). "For Latinos, the term 'folk music' hearkens back to feelings about the old country and their heritage, feelings that are very special and positive. For African Americans, 'folk music' is unhip. And they see it as a white, southern thing." That's why the folk-music mecca is now sometimes advertised simply as the "Old Town School."
"When I first came to the Chicago planning department in 1983," writes DePaul University's Elizabeth Hollander in her chapter for the book Planners on Planning, "I held a staff meeting for every employee and discovered it was the first meeting of the entire staff since 1968! Following that meeting I went around to talk with people and would ask them, for whom they were writing a report? Who wanted it? What difference was it going to make? People looked at me as if I were crazy and would tell me things like 'I was just told to do it, I have no idea who wants it or why.'"
The University of Illinois' downstate campus is number eight on the list of the ten most activist campuses in the nation, according to Mother Jones (September/October). U. of I. students join hardy perennials the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) because they lobbied successfully for a "Latina/Latino studies program" and a voting student member of the university board of trustees.
Per capita state government spending on the arts, U.S. average 1996-'97: $1.02. In Illinois: 63 cents. Among the states outranking Illinois: Delaware ($3.19), Michigan ($2.26), Missouri ($1.88), Utah ($1.29), West Virginia ($1.09), South Carolina (96 cents), Oklahoma (92 cents), and Alabama (70 cents) ("Fiscal Focus," August).
King Richard II. "The mayor was supported on 88 percent of roll calls in the 1996-1997 period ending with the last meeting in July," write Victor Crown and Karen Nagel in Illinois Politics (July/August). "The mayor was supported on 78 percent of roll calls during the comparable 1995-1996 period." How strong is the mayor's control over the council? The least supportive alderman, Robert Shaw, supported the Daley administration's position on 61 percent of the roll calls.
"When America comes face to face with its urban poor, the terms of the discussion change radically," writes George Schmidt in "Substance" (September). "A separate and unequal mentality is applied before the debate has even begun....Niles Township District 219 administers two high schools (Niles North and Niles West) which have a combined enrollment of more than 4,000. Nobody in Niles is suggesting they break the two schools into several 'small schools,' as is currently being done in Chicago high schools under the whip hand of 'probation' and 'reconstitution.'"