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The City File

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Gee, I was doing my laps fine until Car Talk came on and I swallowed a gallon of water. Hammacher Schlemmer's spring catalog lists a miniature "water-resistant personal radio [with earphones] that you can actually wear while you swim, still enjoying your favorite FM radio station in the water."

And only scripts with a minimum level of irony will be considered for production there. James Krohe Jr., reviewing Richard Cahan's biography of pioneer Chicago preservationist Richard Nickel, They All Fall Down: "As part of a last-ditch attempt to save the [Louis Sullivan] Garrick [Theater, on Randolph between Clark and Dearborn], the city of Chicago in 1961 was asked for $5 million to buy it from its owners and convert its theater to public use. The investment was judged too costly, and when the city backed out demolition proceeded. The parking garage that took the Garrick's place has recently been bought by the city--for $5 million--which plans to raze it. The land, officials say, will be donated for use by the Goodman Theater company. To build a theater" (Illinois Issues, April).

"The real powerhouse of Chicago politics, 'the DNV (did not vote),' is being ignored," complains Russ Stewart in Illinois Politics (March), analyzing the Democratic mayoral primary. "Daley's 349,781 votes was impressive percentage-wise, but unimpressive numerically....In fact, Daley's 1995 [primary] vote was only slightly greater than the 344,721 he received in 1983 when he placed third with 29.8 percent behind Harold Washington and Jane Byrne in the Democratic mayoral primary."

In which we wish we were Jenny Jones. According to the School of the Art Institute's calendar of events, the Betty Rymer Gallery exhibition through May 10 will be "works by photographic artists Merry Alpern, Barbara DeGenevieve and Andres Serrano...alongside video monitors showing television talk shows which deal with similar topics. Through a juxtaposition of fine art photography with commercial television, the student curators hope to confront viewers with the irony of seeing artwork, which society has tried to marginalize by deeming the subject matter controversial, with talk shows, which have capitalized on much of the same controversial material, but, unlike the artwork, have become one of the most popular forms of mainstream culture."

"Minority children whose mothers are immigrants outperform students from the same ethnic group whose mothers were born in the United States," according to a report coauthored by U. of C. sociology chair Marta Tienda (Chronicle, March 30). For instance, "many Asian groups begin at an educationally advantaged position as immigrants and then decline in achievement in successive generations as the families adopt mainstream American values. Third-generation Asian-Americans...have lower reading scores than first-generation Asians....First-generation black immigrants, who come largely from the Caribbean, earn higher test scores in mathematics than native-born blacks. Second-generation blacks had the highest reading scores of the three groups. As black immigrants spend more time in their adopted country and become more aware of the ways in which society has limited the options of African-Americans, their achievement falters."

Chicago, that low-tax town. From a Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois analysis of 1992 property taxes on a $100,000 home in selected Illinois cities--East Saint Louis, $4,860; Joliet, $2,324; Chicago, $1,407; Northbrook, $1,268 (Tax Facts, February/March).

"The notion that (by rehabbing) buildings, a few hundred or a few thousand units of housing, we can improve our community--the idea is absurd," veteran housing activist Bob Brehm tells The Network Builder (Winter). "The thing about all of the issues for social justice that we fight these days--issues around jobs, education, racism, crime and police, uneven development, use of public resources--organizing around a lot of these issues can have great impact. But just building housing with the limited subsidies, the resources that are available today, we can never build more than a tiny percentage of what is needed. That to me further underlines the real importance of organizing and activism, and not just quietly going about doing our few hundred units."

How publicly funded broadcasting hurts the left. "If public broadcasting is already a friendly arena for corporate and conservative viewpoints, why are the Republicans complaining?" wonders Extra! (March/April), and eventually answers its own question. "Republican politicians are savvy enough to have learned that the more they pressure CPB and PBS every year or two with threats to cut off funds, the more conservative programming gets....The elimination of CPB...would be a serious loss. But the transformation of CPB into a mere enforcer of a right-wing ideological agenda may be an even greater threat."

"The law is proving to be responsive to women's claims and needs in two important places: The democratic institutions of government and the market economy," writes IIT/Chicago Kent School of Law professor Linda Hirshman in National Law Journal, quoted in Perspectives (Spring). But "where people fear neither the ballot nor the buck, in some elite private law schools and in some law firms, the picture is far less rosy."

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

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