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“Envisioning an equivalent to Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, merchants gradually converted Oak Street’s townhouses to expensive shops,” writes Michael J.P. Smith in Inland Architect (November/December). “These undoubtedly are successful magnets for a certain grade of consumer. But Oak Street has lost every shred of its former gentility to a monoculture of visually raucous boutiques that jostle for attention like a convention of Ivana Trumps.”

“When people engage in high-risk behavior they have to accept the consequences. If I play hopscotch on the freeway and get hit by a car, should I expect sympathy?” wrote Newsweek reader Pam Palmer in reference to AIDS patients. Kevin Brown, writing in Positively Aware (December), doesn’t care for her view: “The notion of Pam Palmer and millions of people like her playing hopscotch on the Dan Ryan Expressway fills me with glee. I have some chalk somewhere. I know I do.” But the same issue of the locally published newsletter reports that “gay men are relapsing into unsafe sexual practices”–45 percent of 470 men surveyed at gay bars and social organizations nationwide had had unprotected anal intercourse in the previous six months. “Most of the unsafe sex was found to be outside of monogamous relationships with partners of unknown HIV status.” Hopscotch, anyone?

“Unbelievably, General Assistance is again a target for 1992 [state budget] cuts,” reports the Public Welfare Coalition on South Morgan. “This meager program, which will only offer six months of benefits next year for people considered ’employable,’ is projected to be drastically reduced, if the Governor has his way. Governor Edgar has stated that these men and women need to go out and get a job. Never mind that for many seeking work, there are no jobs available.”

“From my observations, the occurrence of escaped birds corresponds highly with the ending of apartment leases in the city,” writes Eric Walters in Compass (December), newsletter of the Chicago Audubon Society. “Forty percent of the apartments change hands at the end of April, twenty at the end of August and forty at the end of September.ÉAnother possibility is that birds escape in transit. As a result, escapees are often seen along the Chicago lakefront during these times.”

Justice at last. “From the standpoint of appreciation, on average you were better off if you owned a home in a black South Side neighborhood rather than a white one,” reports Ed Zotti, comparing Chicago’s census tracts from 1980 to 1990 in Chicago Enterprise (December). “Neighborhoods south of Pershing Road that were at least three-fourths black appreciated an average of 70 percent during the ’80s, while those that were at least three-fourths white appreciated only 61 percent.”

Vive la difference? Non. Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin in Today’s Chicago Woman (November): “A young man who’s a used car salesman will put on his brochure [when running for office] that he’s involved in international trade and an expert in small business and the monetary system. While a woman with a master’s degree in urban planning will say, ‘I can’t possibly run. I’m just a homemaker.’ There’s really a difference.”

Teaching the nuclear/landfill/ incineration technocrats about democracy. Anita Warren writes in Nuclear Industry (fourth quarter), “Social science research shows if a risk is imposed involuntarily, it is seen as up to 1,000 times less acceptable than it would be if assumed voluntarily. [Peter] Sandman [of Rutgers University] gives the example of voluntarily skiing down a mountain, versus being shanghaied to the mountain top, having slippery sticks strapped to one’s feet and being pushed down the mountain. ‘One is recreation, the other is assault,’ he says. ‘The difference is who decides, whether it’s voluntary or coerced.'”

“Schools in predominantly white neighborhoods offer sex education two to three times more often than their black counterparts,” according to Lisa Capitanini in the Chicago Reporter (November). On the north side, where 1 in 394 people has a sexually transmitted disease (STD), more than three-quarters of the schools have taught family-life education in the last five years. On the west side, where 1 in 35 has an STD, less than half the schools have done so.

“If Mayor Daley really wanted a third airport in Chicago he would have put the folks from Commonwealth Edison on the negotiating team,” writes Nate Lee in New City (December 12). “Then, [Indiana] Governor Bayh would have ended up paying us to put the airport in Chicago, as well as kicking in a tidy sum to help maintain it, if, maybe, folks from Indiana could use it now and then. With Daley’s negotiating skills, though, we’ll end up building a third airport in Baraboo–with teachers’ money–on a promise by Northwest Airlines to buy a certain number of gates.”

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