Sister Mary Agnes explains it all for you. “All of our nuns came from Chicago,” writes Carol DeChant in the spring 1991 Critic about eighth grade in a Des Moines parochial school in 1952, “and since no one in the class had ever been there, they liked telling us about it. The sisters always mentioned, ‘the Loop,’ and ‘the el,’ which I never realized were two different things. I imagined one vast carnival ride of trains running on tracks shaped like cursive ‘l’s’ wending above and underneath the metropolis. Filled with nuns.”

“I learned more about the architecture of Chicago in Charlottesville than I did at UIC, and that is inexcusable,” writes disgruntled alum Eric Davis in the UIC School of Architecture Newsletter (spring 1991). “None of the design professors I encounteredÉpresented the great buildings…as a body of knowledge to be sought out by the students they were teaching.”

Bad times equals good business. “Business has been good and more people want a piece of the action,” Uptown pawnshop owner Robert Zeff tells Stanley Holt in Chicago Enterprise (April 1991). Adds Holt, “The United States now has more pawnshops than ever before. At a time when banks and savings and loans (S&Ls) are weathering difficult times, the black sheep of the financial-services family is thriving. In fact, in Chicago, pawnshops are proliferating so quickly that some neighborhoods have tried to prevent more of the shops from moving in.”

In case you wondered who’s in charge here. Percentage of times commentators at the 1989 U.S. open finals referred to men tennis players by first name only: 8. Women: 53 (Extra!, March/April 1991).

Reform with a vengeance. “Unless I belong to a political party, what business of mine is it how a party chooses its own candidates?” asks William J. Leahy in Leahy’s Corner (February 1991). “Party conventions are notoriously foolish and boring. I think that parties should be required to lock their doors to observers and the press, and all who attend should be allowed to carry and use weapons. The results of such efforts are all that we need to know and all that we care about anyway.”

Ooh! So that’s it! I’m supposed to be president, and George Bush should be writing this column! “Spiritual gypsy” Sam Keen, promoting his new video Your Mythic Journey: “The most frequent problem I find is that people are successful and it’s killing them. They’ve got money, they’ve got success, but they’re living out somebody else’s life story.”

By far the wealthiest U.S. congressman from Illinois in campaign resources is Dan Rostenkowski, who had $1,114,068 cash on hand at the end of 1990. Only six representatives in the nation had more, reports Common Cause. Other Chicago veterans of Congress with less bloat in their campaign funds: Cardiss Collins ($90,094), Sidney Yates ($53,828), and William Lipinski ($19,110).

Not getting away from it all. Judy Williams, president of the Lathrop Homes Resident Management Corporation, quoted in Community Matters (April 1991): “The Lathrop Homes RMC is trying to empower the people in this community. It works out better if you live in the community you work in. If you live there there are a lot of things you won’t tolerate. When you can go home at night and get away from the problems they don’t bother you as much.”

We need more product-liability cases, not fewer, Ralph Nader tells editor Vicki Quade of the Chicago-based Barrister (spring 1991): “There aren’t many reservoirs of authority in our country that keep expanding the standards of responsibility, accountability, duty to warn between the powerful and the powerless…beyond appellate court decisions deciding tort cases. Over the years we’ve been the marvel of the world in that respect. The Pinto fuel tank memos, the Dalkon Shield data, all that was exposed not by regulatory agencies, but by tort suits. It’s a great deterrent….There should be more storefront firms that take product liability suits that are in the $50,000 to $200,000 category. Most lawyers can’t justify taking those cases now. It’s not lucrative enough.”

The family that prays together hates gays together. According to research psychologist Gregory Herek, quoted in the spring 1991 Human Rights, there is “a very direct correlation between the frequency people tell me they attend church and the extent to which they are hostile to gay people. The more they go to church, the more hostile they are.”

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