The City File | City File | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » City File

The City File


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


For call waiting there's a ripping and chewing sound. Hammacher Schlemmer now offers an $80 Tyrannosaurus rex telephone (keypad under a rock, receiver in the dinosaur's back). According to the summer catalog, "'Rex' even announces incoming calls with a roar instead of a ring."

"Gambling is not a good way to fund government," says the Civic Federation in a May 20 position statement. More to the point, it won't bring in enough money. Chicago public schools, for instance, have been promised an estimated $50-60 million a year--but the debt service alone on the 1993-'95 school-opening loan is $29 million a year. And the schools expect another $325 million shortfall in the fall of 1995.

"If a bit shoddy, [popular religious] belief at least has the strength of vulgarity--like a plaster statue of the Little Flower or a phosphorescent crucifix," writes Paul Q. Beeching in the Chicago-based Critic (Spring). "It may be shallow; for that very reason, it is rarely shaken. Compared to it, today's theology looks very overdone indeed, and not necessarily more profound....There isn't a chance in hell that we will live as Jesus lived; the whole idea is blasphemous."

"Given the number of homes they own, African-Americans obtained substantially fewer refinancing loans than whites, Latinos or Asians," reports the Woodstock Institute in a May "Reinvestment Alert." "While African-Americans own 28.7 percent of the total number of owner-occupied housing units in the city of Chicago, they obtained only 8.8. percent of the refinancing loans."

"There is not enough money in America, public or private, to pay for all the care this informal safety net once provided," writes Jonathan Rowe in the Progressive Review (April). "Decades ago, for example, if a mother had to be away for the afternoon, she would just call a neighbor and send the kids over. Next time, it would work the other way around....Caregiver exchanges are simply networks of mutual care. I help a neighbor and get a chit in exchange. Then, when I need help, someone in the community helps me. In Brooklyn, for example, an HMO for seniors called Elderplan has become, in effect, one big caregiver exchange....People have a desire to help and a need to be needed that has nothing to do with money. Economists don't understand this, but it is true."

Mr. President, we need to add two baboons and a howler monkey to your cabinet to have a truly diverse group. Animal-rights philosopher Peter Singer, quoted on his latest project in the Animals' Agenda (March/April): "We're asking that the community of equals, as we call it, the community of beings for whom we accept the same ultimate, basic rights, should cease to be the species homo sapiens and should become the great apes as a whole....[Under this proposal] all species of great apes are not items of property, but are beings with rights, equals, if you like, persons in the full sense, both legally and morally." Singer acknowledges that if he can pull this off he'll try to do the same for more species.

It's not just Chicago. Motorola can't find the workers it needs to build cellular phones in suburban Libertyville and Harvard, reports Frank Swoboda in the Washington Post weekly (May 30-June 5). "[Director of education Ed] Bales says Motorola is rejecting nine out of 10 job applicants as unqualified for the company's factories, which represents some improvement in the past few years. When the company first began testing all applicants in the late 1980s, only one of 14 applicants qualified."

"A popular fantasy imagines the presettlement peoples of Illinois dwelling in a state of perfect consonance with nature," writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (May 19-25). "The authors of a recent major study of biodiversity in the Great Lakes invoked it when they wrote, 'The Native American lifestyle was compatible with the natural systems of the basin.' In fact, Indian lifestyles were not especially compatible with nature, as the authors went on to make clear. Small bands of Illinois' early human occupants typically 'moved on when resources became stressed.' Moving on only works when there is not another band living on the place you want to move on to. It was their small numbers that were compatible with the natural systems of the Great Lakes basin, not their lifestyle."

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

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment