The almighty car. How did members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America first hear about their current congregations? According to a survey published in the Chicago-based Lutheran (July), the top three ways were “invitation from a friend” (22 percent), “family or personal past association” (24 percent), and “driving by” (29 percent).

Best six aldermen 1991-93, according to an IVI-IPO survey of 20 key City Council votes (including the Edison franchise, blue-bag recycling, and library funding): Jesse Evans (21st Ward, 95 percent correct), Larry Bloom (5th, 85 percent), Joe Moore (49th, 80 percent), Toni Preckwinkle (4th, 75 percent), John Steele (6th, 75 percent), and Helen Shiller (46th, 75 percent). Worst six, all with just 5 percent correct votes: John Buchanan (10th), John Madrzyk (13th), James Laski (23rd), Terry Gabinski (32nd), Richard Mell (33rd), and Michael Wojcik (35th). Mayor Daley’s own Patrick Huels (11th) barely escaped the cellar by scoring 10 percent.

Gulp! “If you want only one book on the assassination, this is the one,” writes attorney Elmer Gertz in the Chicago-based Real Crime Book Digest (October-November), describing Gerald Posner’s Case Closed, which debunks conspiracy theories of the JFK assassination. “It should be forced down the consciousness of Oliver Stone and the other falsifiers of history.”

“Chicago being Chicago, it opened [Union Station] just when intercity passenger rail travel was about to decline,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (September 23-29), “and tore much of it down about ten years before trains became popular again. The handsome passenger concourse–an airy vault ninety feet high–was demolished in 1969. The train platforms, ticket windows, baggage facilities, and shops were relegated to a skyscraper basement that Amtrak itself called ‘totally inappropriate as an entrance to a great city.’ In fact the bargain-basement station was totally appropriate as an entrance to the Chicago of the seventies. For twenty years that dismal portal came to symbolize Chicago for uncounted thousands of visitors from places like Springfield. It was what big cities had become–dark, smelly, confusing, and dirty.” And now that Union Station has improved…

“The history of Indian-white relations has not usually produced complex stories. Indians are the rock, European peoples the sea, and history seems a constant storm,” writes historian Richard White in The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, quoted by James Stuart in Illinois Issues (July). “There have been but two outcomes: The sea wears down and dissolves the rock; or the sea erodes the rock but cannot finally absorb its battered remnant, which endures. The first outcome produces stories of conquest and assimilation; the second produces stories of cultural persistence…. But the tellers of such stories miss a larger process and a larger truth. The meeting of the sea and continent, like the meeting of white and Indian, creates as well as destroys. Contact was not a battle of primal forces in which only one could survive. Something new could appear.”

Religion just isn’t what it used to be. From a September 23 press release by the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago: “The Rev. Paul Rutgers, President, said the group was not talking about some superficial concern whether gambling is a sin.”

Kudzu for Chicago. “The structure of local power was more complex than we realized in 1983,” writes UIC urban-planning professor Robert Mier in his new book, Social Justice and Local Development Policy. “In Chicago, [the power elite] is not a small, tight-knit club, but a large, multilayered, informal network bound together by corporatist ideology. It was an ideology that had a difficult time accommodating the notion of a strong, African-American mayor…. The entrenched machine the mayor sought to dissolve had substantial influence, if not outright control, over…the Housing Authority, the Transit Authority, the City Colleges, the Board of Education, and the Park District. Its influence reached deep into major financial and legal establishments, the unions, and even the Catholic Church. In fact, the metaphor of a machine is quite misleading. A machine operates in a consistent and predictable way. A weed, with its ever-spreading roots and tenacity, is a better metaphor.”

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