By far the most visible advocate of the referendum is Patrick Quinn, who is considered an all-around populist by his allies and a cause-of-the-week gadfly by his foes.

—David Fremon, reporting on a statewide referendum to decide whether Illinois should write a new constitution. (Illinois voted three- to-one against it.), Oct. 27, 1988

August 25, 1988

The Night Chicago Burned

In August Chicago waxed nostalgic. Twenty years earlier, a lot of white kids had been roughed up in the parks during the “police riot” that accompanied the Democratic Convention. Many of those kids were now movers and shakers. It was time to look back. But that had been the second and far lesser of the two great Chicago convulsions of 1968. The Reader chose to recall the other one. Gary Rivlin wrote:

Friday, April 5, 1968: Martin Luther King was dead, and thousands of young protesters stalked the streets of Chicago, exhibiting a harsh, unbridled rage the likes of which the city had never seen. Those living amid the rioting could do little more than pray that some mob wouldn’t converge on their building. Those living far away were gnawed by terror nonetheless, their fears fueled by the fires that illuminated the western sky . . .

Twelve thousand Army troopers and 6,000 National Guardsmen descended on Chicago. Half the city’s police were placed on alert. For several nights the National Guard walked the streets two abreast with fixed bayonets. Jeeps mounted with 50-caliber machine guns crept along the main thoroughfares. A 10 PM curfew was strictly enforced.

June 23, 1988

Poetry of Blood and Guts

Todd Moore’s Epic on the Life and Times of John Dillinger

Who is that guy & what is he


w/his business suits & pistols

why does the air crack a little

when he walks thru it

why do most people throw in their


or guns at the sound of his name . . .

Todd Moore, a Belvidere, Illinois, junior high school teacher, began writing Dillinger in 1976. The Riddle of the Wooden Gun, the last volume of Moore’s epic poem, was published in 2009 and Moore died the next year. Bill Helmer profiled him for the Reader, June 24, 1988.