Press releases that glazed our eyes: "National Jewish Theater Presents Midwest Premiere of Broken Glass, Arthur Miller's Shattering New Play."
The city as therapy. Longtime Pilsen activist Guadalupe Reyes in Salt of the Earth (March/April): "I enjoyed raising my family, but there were also times of tears, anger, and frustration. When that happened I'd sometimes ask my husband, 'Do you have a quarter in your pocket?' And if he did, I'd ask him to watch the children and I would go out for a bit. Then I'd take the bus to the end of the line and come back. That was all I could afford, but to me it was like going to a movie. I'd come back refreshed and ready to start over."
"There is a real danger that higher education, even at public universities, will become the preserve of the rich," Illinois public university faculty senate leaders say in a recent news release. In 1994 dollars, state funding per student has dropped from $5,415 in 1970 to $3,448 in 1995. In that same time, tuition and fees at Illinois public universities have increased almost three times as fast as inflation.
"Since the '60s, theatre has become as stagnant as rock 'n' roll," argues playwright Dan Conway in New Plays! (Winter), newsletter of the Chicago Dramatists Workshop, "desperately searching for an identity (thus following every fad that blows 'round the corner) and/or a savior (thus Mamet). The Beatles sell as many CDs today as they sold albums thirty years ago. And one of the hits of Broadway last season was Guys and Dolls, a forty year old diamond that shamelessly sparkles on--while most theatres throw dross onstage and call it a production. While novels, poetry and the screen have continued as stable institutions, theatre has declined-- drastically."
Why the middle class has lost its work ethic. Henry Rose, director of Loyola's Community Law Center, reminds us in a press release that the biggest government subsidies don't go to poor people: $70 billion in home-mortgage-interest tax deductions and $90 billion in tax-free employer contributions to health-care coverage. "When we talk about dismantling the welfare state," he suggests quixotically, "let's examine all subsidy programs."
"When I was young, I never knew how to draw black people, because I never saw them in the comics," says medical storekeeper Don McQuay, who writes and draws the new black superhero comic The Circle Unleashed (UIC News, February 1). "I was doing an exhibition of work in school [in the 1960s], and one man asked me, 'Can you draw any black people?' and I said, 'No?!'"
The final barrier. Janice Rosenberg writes in the Chicago Jewish News (February 10-16) that assistant rabbi Shoshana Gelfand of Anshe Emet Synagogue says she "finds it difficult to have to 'carry the banner for women in Judaism.' Some of the women in her congregation assumed that because she was a woman, she would share enthusiastically in their liberal ideas about gender equality. They were disappointed to learn that she tends toward the conservative side of Conservative Judaism. 'If I were a man, no one would question some of my opinions and decisions,' she says. 'If you're really going to have equality, you need to give women rabbis the option of having more conservative opinions as well.'"
"The history of the state's...role toward children is strikingly circular," writes Joan Gittens in her book Poor Relations. "Regarding delinquent children, a nineteenth century court limited the intervention of reformers into 'predelinquents' lives in the name of civil liberties. A century later, in the 1967 Gault case, the United States Supreme Court did much the same thing. In dealing with dependent children, the oldest solution was to settle them promptly into families, with little or no further intervention from the state. In the Adoption Act of 1980, reformers again espoused a limitation on state intervention in favor of simple familial care. And in the education of handicapped children, the pre-Civil War special schools' goal of returning mentally and physically handicapped children to their communities as soon as possible finds an echo in the modern day commitment to deinstitutionalization and mainstreaming of handicapped children....By the second half of the twentieth century, reformers had lost faith in the Progressive commitment to intervention and had come to see the state not as a benevolent parent but as a juggernaut, as likely to destroy as to help children in need."
It's a scab world after all. According to a U. of I. press release, labor and industrial relations professor Michael LeRoy has found that "employers failed to rehire strikers in 31 percent of [298 surveyed strikes] between 1982 and 1991. This contrasts with a 24 percent failure-to-rehire rate between 1968 and 1981."
Government help for people who neglect to spend their hard-earned money on their needs. From a People for the American Way letter to the press: "While cable programming is purely consumer-focused, public broadcasting's mission is to serve the needs of citizens and communities."
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Carl Kock.