“Because the character of environmental progress is nonideological–reflecting well both on federal initiatives and on business–neither political camp knows how to extol what’s happened,” writes Gregg Easterbrook in the New Republic (January 4 and 11). “Toxic emissions by industry declined 46 percent from 1988 to 1996, even as petrochemical manufacturers enjoyed record U.S. production and copious profits. About one-third of Superfund toxic waste sites are now cleaned up, with the pace of cleanup accelerating. The forested acreage of the United States is expanding, with wildlife numbers up in most areas, led by the comeback of eastern deer, now thought to be at precolonial numbers. Since the Endangered Species Act was passed, only a few U.S. species have fallen extinct, not the thousands predicted, while species such as the bald eagle, gray whale, and peregrine falcon have recovered enough to no longer require full legal protection. Only two major U.S. environmental gauges are now negative: continuing inaction against greenhouse gases and continuing loss of wildlife habitats to urban expansion.”

Holiday least likely to be observed as a paid holiday in 1999 by Illinois firms surveyed by the state chamber of commerce, according to a December press release: Pulaski Day (March 1), 0.5 percent. By comparison, 11 percent of employers will give employees their own birthdays off with pay. The most observed paid holiday will be Labor Day (September 6), 98.8 percent.

“Daley has never forgotten that {John} Stroger, committeeman of the nearly all-black 8th Ward, endorsed him over Harold Washington in the 1983 mayoral primary,” writes James Ylisela Jr. in Illinois Issues (December). “That year, the 8th Ward went 98 percent for Washington and Daley lost the election, but that was beside the point. Stroger was a stand-up guy in Daley’s eyes, and the two have been helping each other ever since.”

Where to find the most expensive single-family homes in Illinois, according to the 1998 Illinois Statistical Abstract : the northwest suburban Barrington area, where the median price in 1997 was $369,700. The cheapest are in rural Stark County, about 120 miles southwest of Chicago, where the median is $39,300.

“Evenings that used to beckon an audience of 250 at our old venue on Milwaukee–for a concert by Don Byron, or Roscoe Mitchell, or the New Horizons Ensemble, etc.–now only attract 50 to 90 people or less [at Balbo and Wabash],” laments HotHouse executive director Marguerite Horberg in the club’s December newsletter. One possible culprit is not the change in location but “the change in radio format at some jazz stations that have abandoned altogether difficult music and have opted for ‘jazz lite.’ It is difficult for us to imagine building new audiences for the avant garde with virtually no support in mainstream media, particularly radio.”

If this guy doesn’t want to be called New Age, who does? Radio interviewer Thomas Pecora, interviewed in StreetWise (December 8): “I’m not ‘new age,’ I’m not a ‘psychic,’ I’m an intuitive. The astrology that I work with is called ‘Jungian-based psychological astrology.’ It views the planets as archetypes, as opposed to chunks of real-estate. Intuitives work with mental energy, as opposed to emotional energy, which is what I understand psychics do.”

“Today, on the flimsiest and most sophistic of grounds, the intelligentsia has lined up behind the slimiest president in American history,” writes Sam Smith in the “Progressive Review” (December). He recalls that during the Vietnam war Robert Lowell and Arthur Miller refused to attend White House functions, while Eartha Kitt attended and spoke out. “Now we have Toni Morrison exculpating Clinton because of his ‘blackness’ and [Arthur] Schlesinger exculpating him because Reagan lied as well. . . . It’s just lucky we didn’t have to rely upon this craven crowd when we were fighting George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, Carmine DeSapio and Richard Daley. They probably would have lectured us all about party unity.”

Send tips to cityfile@chicagoreader.com