“As one wanders through the armory, it becomes progressively more difficult to tell where the original structure ends and the installed art begins,” writes Richard Solomon on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s current show, “Art at the Armory: Occupied Territory,” which runs through January 22. “The stencils on the handrails that spell out ‘do not touch’ were produced by artists; but the stencils on the walls, set at a height of about four and a half feet, which say ‘every inch a soldier,’ were always present, having been applied by the National Guard. Overlooking the entry lobby of the armory is a glass case with a stuffed dog, labeled ‘Skippy.’ Contrary to all expectations, this is not an installation but merely a preserved mascot of some early corps.” (Inland Architect, November/ December).

Your odds are approaching three in four. The Board of Election Commissioners reports that “more than 72 percent” of city polling places are now accessible to the disabled and elderly.

“Have you noticed that when the prolife people are talking about near-term babies and murder, you can see the honesty in their eyes and hear it in their voices? But then when you ask them about two-day-old embryos, you see their eyes shift to and fro and their faces get hard and their voices get that honking sound, and you know they’re lying, and ashamed, and ashamed of their shame,” writes Frederick Turner in Harper’s (November). “And the same thing with pro-choice activists–talk to them about the first trimester and you can see all the decent truth and honor and courage in them. But then you ask about the last couple of months, and you get the scared eyes, the twisted mouth, the willingness to lie and lie, the pretended casualness in the tone of voice, the false air of certainty…The point is, people sometimes just can’t deal with the idea of morality as a gradual slope. They have to draw a line; they have to be sure. Both sides want it to be easy.”

Translation: if you’re going to cut with a machete, at least ask somebody who knows where to aim it. From the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs’ “six month assessment of changes in management and budget practices of the City Colleges of Chicago,” Putting Students First: “There appears to be a lack of understanding at the Board level of the full impact of their budgetary decisions on the students and academic programs. This situation would be improved if academic decisions included appropriate faculty input.”

Deja vu all over again. “Formal negotiations between Edison and the City [of Evanston] began in early 1992,” reports Dave Kraft in the Nuclear Energy Information Service’s NEIS News (Fall). “After 10 months of meetings, a frustrated City manager Eric Anderson finally had to conclude, ‘It has not been a successful negotiation.’ While the contents of the negotiation remained confidential, the style and process has been expressed publicly by City negotiators as frustrating. Negotiators reported that often items that they thought they had reached previous agreement on were pulled off the table by Edison. In the end the City reported that Edison would agree to nothing but the [Northwest Municipal Conference Model Franchise, which devotes more space to tree trimming than to energy conservation]. At that point negotiators conceded that no negotiations had really gone on–that the process had become merely an ultimatum by Edison to the City.”

“U of C is funny. They’re not prejudiced, they’re elitist. They have nothing against your color, as long as you’re a genius,” says Cook County circuit court judge Ellis E. Reid, a 1959 U. of C. law graduate, quoted in the Chicago Reporter (October).

“In reality, there is no such thing as a free market,” write David Osborne and Ted Gaebler in Reinventing Government, “if by that we mean a market free of government intervention. All legal markets are structured by rules, set down by governments. The only markets free of government regulation are black markets–and precisely because they operate outside government’s authority, black markets are controlled through force and wracked by violence. Next time you hear someone condemn government and glorify the free market, ask him if he really means to hold the drug trade up as a model.”

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