Chances that your sewer is more than 92 years old: better than 1 in 4 (Chicago Enterprise, June).

“If somebody chews your food for you all your life, when you’re presented with a solid food, you’re not going to know what to do with it,” Stuart Rosenberg tells David Rothschild in New City (June 4). “You have to learn how to chew. I’ve got an audience [on WBEZ’s Sunday-evening “Earth Club”] that I’ve been learning to chew with… people who understand how George Jones relates to Verdi. It’s not just people who like country or classical music, it’s anyone with a brain. If you show them, they’ll understand that it makes perfect sense to put Elvis on after the Kronos Quartet.”

Questions we already know the answers to, from Ronald E. Childs in Chicago Journalist (June): “In all fairness, where were all of the human interest stories, including the televised visits from loved ones and home movies of Rodney King’s family life before his tragedy, as was repeatedly done with severely injured White motorist Reginald Denny on NBC’s ‘Today Show’ and other programs? Why weren’t the four Los Angeles police officers paraded before the cameras in eerie slow motion, with sinister music playing in the background, as was done with the four black suspects in the Denny beating on a recent CNN News report?”

A solution you won’t hear about from either monument-building mayors or car-hating activists. Transit experts Robert L. Knight and Patricia L. Mokhtarian, in the new book Public Transportation: “Major regional benefits such as reduction of energy use and air pollution are much more likely through private ridesharing (car- and vanpooling) arrangements; an increase in average peak-period auto occupancy from 1.2 persons per vehicle to 1.4, which is only about one additional person in every sixth car, would do far more toward attainment of most regional environmental objectives than could a rapid transit system such as BART.”

And this is the one that’s easy to cure. Reported early syphilis cases among African Americans in Chicago, 1987: 569. In 1991: 3,896 (State Department of Public Health).

Stop me before I plan again! Alan Ehrenhalt, writing in Governing (reprinted in Illinois School Board Journal, May-June), takes turn-of-the-century Chicago architect Daniel “Make no little plans” Burnham to task for inspiring “a long sequence of officeholders who think they aren’t doing anything worthwhile unless they attempt the impossible.” (Among them is Minnesota governor Arne Carlson, who recently promised “nothing less than world-class levels for all learners.”) Ehrenhalt wants to rewrite Burnham for the ’90s: “Be very careful about making big plans, for the power they have is largely the power to disappoint voters, get you defeated for re-election and erode public confidence in government. Make small plans, and see to it that they are executed–and then come back and we’ll talk.”

And you thought your checkbook was a mess. State of Illinois cash on hand at the end of May: $185 million. Overdue bills on hand: $654 million plus “any medical bills being held at the Department of Public Aid” (press release from the office of Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch).

We’re Number One. According to the Compiler (Spring), during the last quarter of 1991 Chicago led the nation in the percentage of male felony arrestees testing positive for cocaine–70 percent, beating out Manhattan (59 percent) and Los Angeles (48).

Return to gangland. “Unlike in most high schools, there is no gang activity at Chicago’s Re-Entry Center,” writes Michelle Martin in Catalyst (June). “While some of the center’s students are gang members, all students are prohibited from wearing hats, earrings and other gang signs. (Students leaving the center can be seen cocking baseball caps to the side, donning earrings, re-tying shoelaces and sauntering off, gang signs restored.)”

Jobs we don’t want, from a recent press release: “Perkins & Will Is Architect for Expansion Program at Beirut Airport.”

Percentage of Republicans (give or take 3.5 percent) who say they’d be more likely to support a congressional candidate who believes the government should expand its efforts to develop solar and other renewable energy sources: 90 (Safe Energy Communication Council telephone poll, March).

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