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Nice work if you can get it. "Madonna is a hot item, extremely popular among cutting-edge academics right now," says U. of I. comparative-literature graduate student Hartmut Heep, who presented a paper, "Madonna: The Politics of Sex," to the April meeting of the American Popular Culture Conference. Heep's Rhetoric 105 undergraduates at first "read Madonna very uncritically. They didn't listen to the lyrics or interpret the texts or her stage performances at all. Now they go out and buy her music and read it analytically."

"Chicago school reform is the most radical structural reform of an American urban school system since the mid-19th century," write outside observers Michael Katz, Elaine Simon, and Michelle Fine in Catalyst (June). But educating children is not their only reason for supporting reform: "With support, Chicago school reform will legitimate local democracy. As it trains LSC members in parliamentary procedures, the analysis of budgets, the selection of principals, the evaluation of curricula and many other matters, Chicago school reform is a vast engine of adult education for developing effective citizens. If it revitalizes public education, Chicago school reform will become a model for how to reverse the slide into privatization and restore the preconditions of an effective public sphere in America. This is why it must succeed."

The color of money. According to Paul Caine of the Chicago Reporter (May), who analyzed more than 120,000 home-mortgage loans made in Chicago between 1986 and 1992, "Many minority communities are underserved, even when they have household incomes that are higher than comparable white areas. Predominantly white areas with household incomes of between $20,000 and $30,000 received twice as many conventional loans as black areas with incomes over $40,000."

Let's see, that's red with Big Mac, white with McFish. Wine Enthusiast (June) dispenses "sweet grapes," "sour grapes," or "sediment" to public figures according to their performances. President Clinton got sediment in his glass "for his apparent public endorsement of fast food. No wine is ever served at these hopeless hamburger haunts. Surely the gastronomic health of the nation would be improved by Presidential attention to civilized dining....Mr. Clinton could enjoy a glass of red with his hamburger, thus changing the dining style of many Americans and at the same time paying homage to the vintners' creed for moderation."

Thanks for the insight. Milwaukee watercolorist Stephanie Soltes, quoted in a release from the Neo-Post-Now Gallery in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: "Painting souls is what I'm doing and I'm not particularly interested in talking about how I do it. I think painters should keep every bit of information about their paintings to themselves and the people who look at paintings should figure out the rest."

Who says a hog has to know where its slop comes from? "It's no secret that Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher is an opponent of high speed rail projects," writes Illinois Association of Railroad Passengers president Ken Bird in Railgram (May). "In a March 15th statement before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Transportation, Kelleher blasted the Texas TGV project and bragged that 'Southwest Airlines is America's privately financed, unsubsidized, shorthaul, high speed, intercity mass transit system.' Unsubsidized mind you! What air traffic control system has he been using?"

"Until last year, I told my daughter, 'You can do and be anything but President of the United States,'" says Laurel Bellows, past president of the Chicago Bar Association, in Today's Chicago Woman (June), "Now I believe she can be President, too, if she's foolish enough to want such a job."

Things you don't read in the papers. "A 'control-freak' workstyle requires a tight lid," writes Alton Miller, press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington, in Illinois Politics (May), describing the Daley administration's relation to the media. "Mid-level city workers, even commissioners, are fearful of direct quotes in the media, unless pre-authorized. Department public information officers are under the guidance of the mayor's centralized press apparatus. Freedom of Information, intended to guarantee citizen access to government, has become a device for the mayor to monitor press interest in city business."

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

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