Singers’ press releases we were afraid to finish: “With a voice as wide as the barrel of a .357 Magnum…”

A time to worry. Dialogue between a fair-housing “tester” for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and an Evergreen Park landlord (Leadership Council News, Summer): “After being asked her nationality…the white tester told the owner she was ‘Norwegian.’ The owner asked, ‘Is that white Norwegian or black Norwegian?'”

Tornadoes? Blizzards? Hah! We have Daniel Barenboim! The Illinois Arts Alliance News (Summer) quotes Lewis Manilow: “To the chairman of the board of a major company who wants to attract the best officers, culture is one of the primary factors. It even allows you to trump the weather.”

They have their reasons. “DCFS is often criticized for not stepping in and removing children more often in order to protect them,” writes DCFS worker I. Richard Zemon in Illinois Politics (August). “We must not lose sight of a very fundamental aspect of human development. Even in abusive homes, there is generally a bonding that exists between child and parent. For anyone to tear that bond asunder can be more damaging than the abusive incident. No doubt many of us could take many of those kids and provide a life many times more enriched, more caring, than the ones they are in now. But…most of the time, the child would rather stay at home because those are the ones s/he loves. By law, there must be severe risk, urgent and immediate necessity, to remove children.”

The two most inconvenient wild animals in Illinois, according to the state Department of Conservation: raccoons (26 percent of the nuisance-animal-removal permits issued in 1992) and beavers (22 percent).

“Women’s studies was conceived with a political purpose–to be the intellectual arm of the women’s movement–and its sense of purpose has only gotten stronger through the years,” writes Karen Lehrman in Mother Jones (September/October). “The result is that the field’s narrow politics have constricted the audience for nonideological feminism instead of widening it, and have reinforced the sexist notion that there is a women’s viewpoint. There’s a legitimate reason why two-thirds of college women don’t call themselves feminists….The intimidation in the field is so great that I had trouble finding dissident voices willing to talk to me on the record. The women’s movement has come a long way in the past twenty-five years–feminists should feel secure enough now to take any and all lumps.”

“Freewheel feels the helmet controversy is self-solving,” writes a columnist in the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation News (August): “If you can’t understand why you should wear a helmet, your brain isn’t worth saving.”

Gee, that couldn’t happen today, could it? Why are there so many more kinds of insects than of vertebrates? University of Chicago paleontologist John Sepkoski says, “What’s unique among insects is not a high speciation rate, but an extraordinarily low extinction rate.” For instance, insects were almost unaffected by the mass extinction that did in the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. However, the mass extinction before that, 250 million years ago, did exterminate most insect families (65 percent), possibly because it may have involved the destruction of dense forests.

Maybe the 1980s weren’t so bad after all. Chicago affirmative-action consultant Timothy Bates, who chairs the urban-policy program at the New School for Social Research in New York City, “found that black, Latino and Asian businesses had a 10.6 percent share of the city’s small businesses in 1982.” But he estimates that these groups now have 15 percent “because of minority gains in wealth and education in the 1980s” (Chicago Reporter, July/August).

From the mouths of playwrights: “I wrote this play as if it were a vendetta” (T & A Productions press release).

No scholarships, eh? Think I’ll go blow somebody away. From a recent press release: “The Tribune claims, ‘that more 13 and 14 year olds are serving adult prison terms.’ ‘The courts are in a quandary’ over this trend. Indubitably, there are numerous reasons for this epidemic. The main reason for this trend is pretty simple. Our youth are not aware that there is Guaranteed Money for College, and that a computerized scholarship matching service is now available.”

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