Killer boats. State Department of Conservation figures show that boating accidents increased more than 50 percent in 1990 over 1989–and boating deaths were up almost 100 percent.

Southwest is safest. According to 1989 data reported in Transportation Facts (May), “Twenty-six percent of all Chicago area expressway accidents occurred on the Kennedy, followed by the Dan Ryan with 20%, the Eisenhower with 14%, the Eisenhower Extension with 12% and the Stevenson with 9%.” The largest number of accidents on the Kennedy happened between 3500 and 4299 North (roughly Addison to Montrose).

Political prophets struck out, according to political scientist David Everson’s review of the claims and counterclaims made during the 1980 debate over Patrick Quinn’s “Cutback Amendment,” which reduced the size of the Illinois House of Representatives by one-third (Illinois Issues, July): “None of the proponents’ claims were realized. The Cutback did not save money, reduce the number of bills introduced in the House or increase the competition for House seats. Nevertheless, in combination with the 1981 reapportionment, it did trigger some changes. The most significant of these has been the strengthening of the majority party’s leadership in the House….The predictive record of the opponents of the Cutback is nearly as dismal. Their primary argument was that minority representation would be reduced.” In fact, the percentages of women and blacks stayed about the same. The only minorities who lost out were dissenters within each party. “The Cutback virtually eliminated these moderate-to-liberal Chicago Republicans and independent suburban Democrats. And it probably helped create a House more dominated by its leadership.” Mike Madigan, call Pat Quinn. You owe him.

“Oh, St. Joseph, guardian of household needs, we know you don’t like to be upside down in the ground, but the sooner escrow closes the sooner we will dig you up and put you in a place of honor in our new home. Please bring us an acceptable offer (or any offer!) and help sustain our faith in the real estate market.” These words are to be said over a buried plastic statuette of Saint Joseph by those seeking to supernaturally expedite the sale of their home. “St. Joseph: ‘The Underground Real Estate Agent'” is being mass marketed at $8 a shot–by a California firm, of course.

Birds are coming back to the Des Plaines River Wetlands Demonstration Project at the north end of Lake County, just three years after the wetlands were restored. “The number of wetland-dependent birds censused during the breeding season increased from 8 [before restoration] to 17 species [after],” reports Wetlands Research, Inc., in a May technical paper. Migrating waterfowl, many of them in decline nationwide, showed up in greater numbers. And “two state-designated endangered species that were absent in the prerestoration census–Least Bittern and Yellow-Headed Blackbird–nested on the postrestoration site.”

Hurry! Only five dancing months till Christmas! The Elmwood Park Civic Ballet Company will hold Nutcracker auditions beginning August 3.

Details, details. From Phillip Elmes’s thumbnail sketch of Navy Pier history in the Chicago Maritime Society’s From the Pilot House (Summer): “Sections of the pier had been substantially refurbished during the 1960s in anticipation of improved shipping activity. The recreational building complex at the east end of the pier was made an attractive, modernized facility–unfortunately separated from the shore by over a half mile of deteriorating sheds and faulty roadways.”

Dept. of educational philosophy. From a high school sophomore distressed about the possible loss of extracurricular activities due to a school budget crunch (Michigan City, Indiana, News-Dispatch, July 2): “If they’re taken away, there won’t be any point to high school.”

What is the proper way to display the cross? During September the School of the Art Institute will show an exhibit of works entitled “Revelations: Artists Look at Religions” that “explores and critiques the multi-faceted relationship between art and religion.”

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. “Our big cities are coming to resemble the London of Dickens’ day,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (July 3-10). “The life-styles of our professional, managerial, and ownership classes are sustained by what is politely known as the service sector but what a franker nation would call the servant class. Chicago used to make millionaires. Now it waits on them.”

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