The City File | City File | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » City File

The City File

by

comment

"When I started out fifteen years ago, it was almost like finding a baby on the doorstep, or seeing a wounded animal or a wounded person," local Nature Conservancy prairie and savanna restorer Steve Packard says in one chapter of the new book Green Means: Living Gently on the Planet. "It just called to me. It said, 'I need help.' And I started working on this and trying to figure out how to bring these things back."

Press releases we swear we were sober until shortly after reading: "Nate's Delicatessen at 807 W. Maxwell Street will serve its final day of business on Sunday, January 14; Dr. Frank Cassel, a Dean at Roosevelt University, has plans to salvage the interior of the UIC-owned building and display its reconstruction inside the food service building [pause here for a deep breath] located on the new Schaumburg campus."

"Having 16,000 mothers with teenage children go to work is a laudable goal," according to a recent Public Welfare Coalition press release. "However, three common sense questions come to mind: 1. Where are 16,000 livable wage jobs for these individuals, so that they may support themselves and their teenage children adequately? 2. What will happen to the thousands of young teenagers who will now be left unsupervised?...3. Where is the experience and where are the resources necessary for the Illinois Department of Public Aid to become a 'fast track' job search and placement agency?"

Headed the wrong way. Percentage of Illinois physicians now practicing family or general medicine (as opposed to a specialty): 12.8. Percentage of 1993 medical residents trained in the state who will practice family or general medicine: 7.6. The difference, as Rush Medical College's Dr. Whitney Addington explains to Paul Cuadros of the Chicago Reporter (December): "A specialist...would treat a person with lower back pain by immediately ordering X-rays and sending the patient to another specialist. But a generalist aims for frequent checkups, an earlier diagnosis, and then prescribes simpler measures, like aspirin and rest, before more intensive treatment."

"Chicago's eminence had peaked by the mid-1890s," writes Northwestern's Carl Smith in his new book Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman. "The integration of the idea of disorder into the view of the city is so pervasive that it is now unremarkable. To say that the city is 'a disaster' is an offhand expression, as is the description of any of its elements, from public transportation to the quality of education, as 'catastrophic.' Such terminology expresses a view of urban experience in which the disorderly and even the disastrous are taken to be at a rising but somehow still always 'normal' level."

"Viewers are wary of investing their interpretive skills in something they are not sure is art," writes Hamza Walker, director of education at the Renaissance Society, in the New Art Examiner (January). "Trying to explain to someone what makes 2,000 pounds of hard candy placed on the floor in a perfect rectangle by Felix Gonzalez-Torres a work of art is different from engaging curious viewers in a discussion about, for instance, Odilon Redon's iconography."

Coming in from the cold. Deborah's Place associate director Audrey Thomas recalls one woman who had been homeless for a number of years before moving into the transitional housing program: "Even though she had her own room and could lock the door, she continued to carry her bags with her for some time. 'When she finally stopped bringing the bags with her everywhere,' Thomas says, 'she still said she never lost the sensation in her hands of carrying her bags'" (Trust News, Fall).

"I chose steel mills [to photograph] because of their compelling physical qualities," writes artist Stephen Szoradi in a brochure announcing his exhibition at the Cultural Center. "This aesthetic form is analogous to a Gothic or Romanesque cathedral. The buildings are commonly set in a cross configuration with three-thousand-degree furnaces at what we may call the nave crossing, and the ninety foot ceilings are carried down the nave throughout the quarter mile long building with concrete and structural steel buttresses."

"Socialist realism" for the veggie crowd. A recent issue of Animals' Agenda complains that Jurassic Park's "seeming advocacy for vegetarianism and respect for nonhuman animals has received practically no media attention....

The major episode of the film that ties all these notions together is the chase scene where two raptors trap the children in the park's kitchen. Nowhere else in the film does the relationship between humankind and the animals it consumes become more apparent. In a room where sentient, nonhuman animals are transformed into inanimate objects for human consumption, the children (and the audience) experience the terror of the hunt from the hunted animal's perspective. When the children are nearly transformed into food for the dinosaurs, death and food become synonymous, which was hinted at earlier by the devoured cow, the dismembered goat limb, and the consumed characters....It seems more than coincidence that the characters who do not survive represent industries that support humanity's divine right to exploit the earth and other species."

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

Add a comment