Not quite a living. Pamela Lewis writes in the Chicago Reporter (October) that the average income of StreetWise vendors dropped from $312 a month in 1993 to $258 a month last year.

“When they attacked Substance and me in January” for publishing flawed standardized tests being used in the Chicago Public Schools, writes George Schmidt in a recent letter to supporters, “Daley, Vallas and Chico counted on a quick, easy, and highly publicized kill. They wanted everyone to know they wouldn’t tolerate debate or criticism. They wanted to drive Substance out of business, destroy my 30-year teaching career, and prove they were the top dogs in the corner lot. Somebody had to stand up to them. Now it’s becoming more and more clear that their bark is really an amplified squeak, and that their bite is a moist and gummy inconvenience.”

Black middle-class neighborhoods “often sit as a kind of buffer between core black poverty areas and whites,” writes Mary Pattillo-McCoy in her new book, Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class, published by the University of Chicago Press and based on three years of research on the south side. “Contrary to popular discussion, the black middle class has not out-migrated to unnamed neighborhoods outside of the black community. Instead, they are an overlooked population still rooted in the contemporary ‘Black Belts’ of cities across the country.”

Got it out of my system on Sunday. According to the statisticians’ magazine Chance (Summer), professional football players are only half as likely to be arrested for assault as members of the general public.

Excuse me, could you turn up your radio a bit? I think we’re falling below our minimum level here. On a list of rules posted in the computer labs at DePaul: “Try to maintain minimum noise levels in the labs.”

Lest we forget. A recent city press release quotes disability activist Hugh Gregory Gallagher, who has used a wheelchair since 1952, speaking at a Chicago awards ceremony in October: “Back when I was young, nothing was accessible. There were no curb cuts, no reserved parking….40 colleges turned me down because they were inaccessible. Movie theaters would not let me in because I was said to be a danger in case of fire. Airlines and buses refused me passage. I once actually got on a plane, but then the pilot refused to fly until I was removed.”

Chicago’s share. According to a recent press release from the Online Union Catalog, a survey of 8,650 libraries shows that the book held by the most libraries–3,971 of them–is In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters. Number five is The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom, late of the University of Chicago (3,506 libraries). Other Chicago-related titles include the 14th and 13th editions of The Chicago Manual of Style (number 11 and number 22) and two books by Studs Terkel, The Good War (number 42) and Working (number 72).

Growth controls on suburban expansion “inevitably make housing expensive,” according to retired Northwestern University economist Edwin Mills in the “Illinois Real Estate Letter” (Summer). “Canada is a persuasive example; Toronto and Vancouver are surrounded by unlimited amounts of cheap land, yet housing prices are 50% greater relative to residents’ incomes than across the border in the US.”

Time to stop making fun of those right-wingers who see black helicopters and “loss of American sovereignty” everywhere. Left-wing environmental guru Peter Montague has spotted them too, though the ones he sees are from the World Trade Organization instead of the UN: “Transnational corporations–working through the governments that they dominate–have spent roughly 20 years exporting the ‘free market’ model to all the nations of the world–a utopian experiment in social engineering that takes your breath away for its scope, scale, and boldness. Even the most ruthless social engineers of the 20th century–Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong–did not attempt social engineering projects on the scale of the experiment that the free traders have undertaken today” (“Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly,” October 21).