On State Street, that great street, they whitewash things they’re not afraid to say on Broadway… From River North News (December 22): “The pedway level [of Marshall Field’s] includes… the Hinky Dink Lounge and Bar. Michael ‘Hinky Dink’ Kenna was the 1st Ward boss and committeeman who had a big impact on the daily life of the area around the turn of the century.” Translation: For a fee, he protected the whorehouses from the cops.

American automotive engineering at work. At A & W’s new Ford City restaurant, a 1958 Edsel Roadster front end that’s built into the counter is “equipped with working headlights and a windshield that acts as a sneeze guard.”

“The loudest silence ever heard” is how one observer describes the prominence of black conservative thinkers in the media from 1984 to 1992. According to Lionel McPherson in Extra! (December), allegedly obscure conservatives Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and Glenn Loury together garnered 892 citations and 26 features during that time, while progressive black academics Cornel West, Manning Marable, and Adolph Reed Jr. (Northwestern) combined for just 122 citations and one feature.

Maximum tax-free benefit an employer can give an employee for mass transit, under the new improved National Energy Policy Act: $60 per month. For parking: $155 per month (Metropolitan Transportation Association’s MTA Monitor, December).

And how many pounds of shirts would you like today, sir? The Century Shopping Centre on North Clark reports that it collected “over 10,000 pounds of clean, used clothing” for Chicago’s homeless.

If only people were vacuum tubes. David Boaz in Intellectual Ammunition (November/December): “Lewis Perelman of the Hudson Institute calculates that we could get 16 years of education–a high school diploma and a college degree–in 10 minutes at a cost of 5 cents if education had improved its efficiency over the past 40 years at the same pace as the computer industry.”

“One day [years ago, U. of C. English professor Elder Olson] was standing in his back yard, which was surrounded by a high wooden fence, when suddenly a baseball came bounding into the yard from the alley, where boys could be heard playing ball. A boy’s voice could be heard. ‘Is somebody in der?’ ‘Yes, I’m in here,’ answered Olson,who was examining the ball. ‘Could ja trun da ball back over da fence?’ Hearing this the philosopher/critic/poet said softly, ‘Trun!’ Still turning the ball over, he said, ‘Tell me something. If you want the ball back, you’ll have to tell me if “trun” is present or past tense.’ There was a long pause as the boy, desperate for the ball, obviously must have thought hard for the answer. Then he shouted, ‘BOAT!’ And Elder Olson, seeing that he had been outwitted, smiled and threw the ball back over the fence” (William J. Leahy, Leahy’s Corner, Fall).

OK, seven years and then you’re on your own. Cost of lifting every person in the U.S. above the poverty line for one year: $28 billion. Combined worth of the 64 richest people in the U.S.: $207 billion (War Watch, November-December).

“The new FAO Schwarz [at 840 N. Michigan] may be the first store in Chicago to conform fully with all of the new Americans with Disabilities Act architectural requirements,” according to Paul Glassman in Inland Architect (November/December). “Flashing fire alarms for the hearing disabled are visible from any point in the store, and cashier stations are at wheelchair height.”

Get some horto in that urbs! The Chicago Community Trust is offering not-for-profit community groups and civic organizations up to $10,000 each for tree planting, community gardening, and related activities within the city of Chicago.

Casualties of the education movement. The Illinois Association of School Boards Newsbulletin (December 28) reports that local school-tax referenda suffered the lowest success rate (21 percent, 11 out of 53) in more than a decade, and the poorest ever for a November election–probably because the education amendment was also on the ballot. “Affirmative voters probably saw no reason to increase property taxes as well as state taxes.”

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