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Gift least likely to be appreciated, from Hammacher Schlemmer's 1987 Gift Supplement: "The Talking Scale With Memory," which "automatically announces your weight (pounds or kilograms) in a clear, digitally synthesized voice, and then (if you wish) tells you how much you have gained or lost since your last weighing, automatically shutting itself off after saying 'Have a nice day' or 'Good-bye' (whichever you prefer). Memory buttons enable up to five members of your family to keep track of their weights, and there is a guest button with no memory function," which just may be the first to break from overuse.

The Presidential Towers life-style, according to Real Estate Profile (October 23-November 5): "Once [renters] walk in it seems as though they could stay indefinitely. Restaurants, shops, a gourmet grocery, a health club, and medical facilities provide everything that one could need. It is a luxury, enclosed environment, with an outdoor track for those who might want to get in touch with the outside world." How else?

"The reality of a judge continuing to rule on cases despite being named a bribe taker under sworn testimony, sends a jarring message to an already cynical public," writes Chicago Crime Commission president Wesley Walton in the CCC newsletter Searchlight (October 1987). For instance, consider Judge Adam Stillo, who "allegedly split a $25,000 bribe initiated by attorney Bruce Roth in April 1983 to reduce a Class X cocaine distribution charge to a lesser felony and to impose a probationary sentence." Roth has been found guilty, but "Stillo is currently sitting in a 4th Municipal District courtroom. Imagine the possible insecurity felt by either the prosecution or defense after every swing of the judge's gavel."

Happy Holidays! "In Illinois," says the state Department of Public Health, "the flu season traditionally begins shortly after Thanksgiving."

Why not a monument? ask Chicago architects Philip Bess and Howard Decker in Inland Architect (September/October 1987). "Humility is a virtue . . . misplaced when civilizing institutions decline to erect monumental buildings because of it. We recognize that religious institutions, governmental institutions, and educational institutions . . . do not exist for the purpose of erecting architectural monuments. . . . Nevertheless, such institutions are suited for monumental architectural expression because of their supreme social importance. . . . The ideals and virtues they promote--in this instance faith, justice, knowledge-- . . . are worthy of celebration even when the institutions that exist to promote them do so imperfectly."

Blurbs we were too spaced out to finish, from MoMing's flier promoting "Art Trek: A Journey into New Performance Galaxies": "This spectacular new series defies the laws of conformity and gravity as it orbits the cutting edge of performance. Its three-phase beam is focused on . . ."

Will losing the Series help? "Many St. Louis art makers and buyers seem not to understand that art is more than a pretty object," writes Joanna Frueh in the Chicago-based New Art Examiner (October 1987). "Art as spiritually, politically or ideologically based--art as belief and critique of belief--seems foreign; this is not a city of intense theoretical or emotional debates about art. . . . St. Louis is disturbingly comfortable. . . ."

Wish I'd said that: "By constantly challenging our aforementioned foundations in an academic atmosphere and consequently more knowingly and comfortably adhering to particular modes of living," promises the Truman Word (October 2), "we assimilate reciprocal goals of academic institutions."

A boning knife, a fork, a saber, scissors, a screwdriver, an electric fan, an ax, a telephone cord, a baton, a nylon stocking, a bedsheet, a tree limb, a house brick, and a frying pan were among the weapons used to commit Chicago's 744 murders during 1986, according to the West Side Times (October 11).

Now that's job security. "The dismissal hearings consumed 34 days and produced 6,539 pages of testimony, plus 626 pages of legal arguments filed by the parties," and the hearing officer's final opinion ran to 78 pages, reports the Illinois School Board Journal (September-October 1987). The case: Oak Lawn High School District 218's lengthy and ultimately successful effort to fire a bilingual education teacher for incompetence and insubordination. "For some small school districts, the cost of dismissing one teacher would be more than they spend on library materials in 20 years."

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

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