“Perhaps the next development in performance poetry will be an attempt to become more like professional wrestling,” writes Gloria Klein in Letter eX (June). “A poetry ‘slam’ is not too far from it already. What is professional wrestling if not a form of entertainment that is metaphor without language? When Cactus Jack battled Arachne Man the crowd went wild. These two wrestlers even carried on their struggle outside the ring. The referee, like punctuation that no longer means anything, couldn’t get them to play by the rules.”

“Chicago, like most big cities, defines its success by visible, built symbols,” writes Mayor Washington’s planning director Elizabeth Hollander in the anthology Harold Washington and the Neighborhoods: Progressive City Government in Chicago, 1983-1987: “the world’s tallest building, Sears Tower; the Lakefront park legacy of the Burnham plan; or the nation’s largest airport. Harold’s leadership was similarly defined and found wanting by many. It was not the legacy he sought….[Since his death] the business community, in partnership with parents and not-for-profit reform groups, overturned the city’s best-established bureaucracy in the name of educating children. That was an unimaginable strategy before Harold Washington’s tenure. In 1983 the business community didn’t know anyone Harold knew. In 1989 these same leaders were lobbying the state legislature with parents from Woodlawn and Pilsen. Harold’s legacy is not on the skyline but in the halls of the legislature and hundreds of meeting halls across the city. His legacy is in the milieu in which he thrived.”

What do 21- to 24-year-old men in Illinois have that the rest of us don’t? A high DUI arrest rate. It’s more than three times everybody else’s–22.1 per 1,000, as opposed to a 6.6 average for all other ages and sexes (1991 DUI Fact Book).

Vote fraud is where you find it. Memo from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to statehouse Republicans opposing a Homeless Voting Rights Act: The act would allow homeless people to register to vote from their residence, be it a shelter or a park bench. Opponents say such a law lends itself to vote fraud. They may have a point: CCH notes that a certain very prominent Republican incumbent (initials G.H.W.B.) is registered to vote from his “residence” in a vacant lot in Houston.

Square miles of commercial and industrial development in the suburbs in 1970: 69.9. In 1990: 142.5. In Chicago in 1990: 28.5 (Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission 1991 Annual Report).

Pay more for worse stuff, it’s the American way–at least that seems to be the view of the Movement for the Consumption of Domestic Products, based in Flushing, New York, which says, “It is sound economic theory that if we buy domestic goods our economy will improve. This, however, will require sacrifice on our part. Even though prices on domestic products will remain higher than on imported goods, and quality may indeed be inferior because of labor conditions, consistent support of domestic industry will yield improved results.”

“Reform began all of three years ago, and the bean-counters are demanding results,” writes a teacher under the pseudonym “Lazarus” in Catalyst (June). “Yet, who but the veterans of the first LSCs remember how difficult it was to get assistance from central office during the first year of reform? Who reads the newsletters from the Principals Association to see the organization’s resistance to change? Who looks back at board budgets to see the 85-90 percent cuts in supplies and materials for the schools during this last year? Who sees the countless numbers of brave attempts at various schools to beat the odds and risk trying something different in spite of the fact that such efforts will probably not be acknowledged or rewarded by the larger system? Who sees through this charade?”

“While black and white conservatives decry the loss of once-strong ‘family values’ in the African-American community, black unemployment statistics continue to worsen,” writes Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (May 27-June 9). “According to research compiled by University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson, the community of Oakland–one of Chicago’s poorest–currently includes about 19 working black males for every 100 black females. In 1950 the ratio was 70-to-100, not far from the 74-to-100 citywide ratio for all races. Clearly, something more than values has changed.”

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