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Patronage in the 90s. "During the six months he worked for CAPS [Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy] in 1997, [Roderick] Smith said, he was forced to do public relations when he preferred helping residents solve problems," writes Alysia Tate in the Chicago Reporter (February). "He said he tried to spend his time with block clubs and did help create a video that taught residents how to get rid of rats. Smith said his police supervisors never gave him direction--except when he was told to dress up as McGruff the Crime Dog to appear with Mayor Richard M. Daley at a neighborhood festival that summer."

Back to the drawing board. The March issue of Pediatrics reports on a study in which 109 sixth- and eighth-grade girls were given Baby Think It Over (BTIO), a computerized doll that simulates an infant in order to make kids realize that having a baby is a lot of work. Before they cared for the BTIO, 13 of the 109 students wanted to become teen parents. Afterward, 16 did.

"With a few exceptions, cities are losing ground [to their suburbs] even in good times," according to a report by John Brennan and Edward Hill of Cleveland State University, "Where Are the Jobs?" published by the Brookings Institution in November. Their analysis of 92 large metropolitan areas between 1993 and 1996 found that 75 of the 92 central cities, whether they were gaining jobs or not, wound up with a smaller percentage of jobs than their suburbs. Over that period Chicago's share of metropolitan-area jobs dropped from 34.2 percent to 32.4 percent.

Where to find supernatural beings 15 times as important as archangels. Like many nonprofits, Loyola's D'Arcy Museum offers several contribution levels for those who want to support its art programs. But on a recent flyer it used different labels for them: Cherub ($25), Angel ($40), Archangel ($100), and Corporate Angel ($1,500).

I've always wanted to meet this person. According to the Chicago Title Insurance Company's February publication "Who's Buying Homes in the Chicago Metropolitan Area 1999," "The average first-time buyer in Chicago is 31.1 years old, makes $60,700 per year, has an average family size of 2.7 and saved 2.3 years for the first down payment on a home. After taking 4.9 months to look at 12.1 homes..."

The Illinois zip codes that raised the most money for Democrats and Republicans in 1999: the near-north 60610 and 60611, which produced more than $500,000 for Democrats and more than $200,000 for Republicans (

The fitness craze of the 1980s and 1990s never happened, report sociologist John Kelly of the University of Illinois of Urbana-Champaign and Rodney Warnick of the University of Massachusetts in their new book, Recreation Trends and Markets: the 21st Century. Annual marketing surveys show that "adult participation in most sports or fitness activities during the last two decades has held largely steady or drifted downward." The only exceptions? Participation has almost doubled in golf, "fitness walking"--and casino gambling.

The First Amendment is no guarantee of federal support of the arts, explained University of Chicago law professor David Strauss at a February 12 conference ( "Even if the courts can insist [under the First Amendment] that the government not withdraw funding in a particular instance, they cannot police the long-term level of funding. After the immediate controversy has passed--when there are no specific individuals who can claim that their First Amendment rights were violated--the government is free to reduce funding or to zero out a program. It is certainly not implausible that that could be the long-term reaction to a series of episodes like the Brooklyn Museum controversy, the Mapplethorpe and Karen Finley controversies, and so on....People who want to defend government funding of the arts either have to explain why the works attacked by politicians are not sick and disgusting, or why they are valuable nonetheless, or why the government should not withdraw support from work like this even if it is of limited value." Good luck.

"Up until now, not many serious historians have ventured a sustained examination of the '70s," writes Joe Knowles in In These Times (March 20), "perhaps for fear of what they might find decaying beneath the shag carpet. The left prefers the vigorous idealism of the '60s, the right the go-go '80s; both would rather not dwell on inflation and the Bee Gees."

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