“My first action was assisting in getting the Evans Potato Chip company to recall their chips which bore a sticker which read ‘ass-kickin hot,'” Northwest Austin Council organizer Marvis Seals tells “Neighborhoods” (October), newsletter of the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety. “The sticker was only in Austin and kids in school were sticking the labels on girls’ backs which the community felt was disrespectful….We got a lot of media attention and the chips were taken off the shelf. Plus Evans donated some computers and an updated African-American video collection for both Austin libraries. A similar campaign was successful against Everfresh Juice which, only in Austin, chose to market their product to kids in a container resembling whiskey flasks. We developed the slogan ‘Austin’s not your dumping ground’ out of that campaign.”
Irrefutable logic. From a recently released report by the National Arts Journalism Program: “The increasing reliance on corporate funds has, according to Lawrence Bommer, theater critic for the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader and Windy City Times, made arts organizations ‘less willing to take risks and [more willing] to anticipate, however subconsciously, what would please their corporate overseers. Of course, they’ll deny it, but then murderers do too.'”
Remind me again why we saved our Democratic president from those crazy Republicans. According to a November 16 press release from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, during the period from 1996 through 1998 the Clinton administration prosecuted 27 percent fewer corporate criminals, and convicted 38 percent fewer, than George Bush did during the comparable period of his administration, 1989 through 1991.
“If anything, kids are designed out of subdivisions,” observes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Issues (November). “Drive through the poor districts of any Illinois city and you will see front yards worn to mud, toys scattered, porches that bear the scars of children at play, baskets nailed to light poles used as impromptu basketball hoops. This is simply not allowed in most subdivisions, where children’s social and emotional health is indulged only up to the point that it risks property values.”
How environmentalists get a bad name. Writing in the on-line publication “Sustainability Review” (November 29), Warren Flint approvingly quotes a friend as condemning consumerism because “every day 1,400 people die of cancer. Cancer did not exist 100 years ago.”
First day at work. The director of the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago, Sherab Gyatso, recalls his: “As I entered the office, I stood before a painting of Buddha, closed my eyes and tried to murmur a few words of prayers. The loud crackle of the phone startled me. I picked up the receiver to hear a shaky voice. ‘Could you give my new dog a Tibetan name?’ said the lady with an air of urgency. I felt strange, and also felt flattered to have been called upon to give a name to a dog. I asked, ‘Is your dog a male or a female?’ The lady paused for a moment and said, ‘Oh boy–hold on. I will go check'” (“Tashi Delek,” Fall).
Their kind of town, Chicago is. “Enormous quantities of ‘fictitious’ funds and futures gambles now move around the globe at lightning speed, twenty-four hours per day, at the behest of Chicago’s computerized ‘market,’ but few of the benefits from such transactions are reaped by the city itself,” writes Northwestern University sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod in her new book, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America’s Global Cities. “Far-flung investors may profit handsomely, and small numbers of local brokers may become wealthy indeed, but most Chicagoans have not benefited. Becoming a ‘global’ city via the MERC has not contributed general prosperity to the region’s population; indeed, if anything, it has widened the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.'”
“Phooey on Y2K and all the hype that goes with it,” writes Joel Alfassa in StreetWise (November 23). “My brothers and sisters of the streets won’t care either. It’s just not any more important to us than we are important to our government.” Happy New Year.