Quick! Where’s the tuxedo? Did you call the caterers? Chicago psychologist Kate Wachs advises the desperately seeking single, “Be as happy as you can–which is quite happy, actually–while being a single person. Enjoy each day as if it were your last ‘single’ day, and as if you are about to be married tomorrow.” Sounds a bit hectic.

Chicago is “the world’s capital of currency exchanges,” according to Democratic state treasurer candidate Pat Quinn. “On Chicago’s West Side, currency exchanges outnumber banks by 151-16 and by 154-22 on the South Side.” Those who must cash welfare, social security, or unemployment checks at the exchanges pay about 2 percent for the privilege.

“The state Department of Conservation has announced plans to give away 165,000 white pine seedlings to Illinois’ third-graders,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Illinois Times (January 25-31). “Ordinarily I would protest on grounds that the only living thing that ought to be entrusted to a third-grader is a cold virus. In this case however it is not altogether a bad thing that ninety-nine out of 100 of the seedlings will die. The white pine is a useful tree in a windbreak (it is largely for that purpose that the state grows them by the million) and can be an acceptable ‘specimen’ tree in a large yard. But the white pine is hardly the ideal city tree. In Illinois it will reach fifty to eighty feet tall at maturity and spread more than twenty feet at its base. Forestry officials in Chicago for that reason have asked DOC to give third-graders in that city something a little less rambunctious.”

If there’s anything I hate, it’s intolerance. Title of an upcoming Chicago news conference on coverage of Asian Pacific Americans: “No More Charlie Chans or Geisha Girls–Stomp Out Stereotypes in the Year of the Horse.”

Why do the Western media worship Gorbachev? Because they’re lazy, according to Susan J. Douglas in In These Times (January 24-30). “Finally they have a Soviet leader who fits the American newsroom definition of what a world leader and media personality should be”–spontaneous, polished, intelligent, not defensive. “Such a man readily provides leads and news pegs, and with the media inflation of him to gargantuan proportions, they don’t have to worry about writing stories about the faceless little people of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe who are so much harder to categorize and cover.”

“Gloria and Tom are married. They have been homeless for nearly three years,” writes Tim Unsworth in U.S. Catholic (February 1990), reflecting on his night volunteering in a Chicago shelter. “Tom is a computer specialist, and Gloria once worked as a hotel clerk. Both are alcoholics. They can go months without a drink, get near the shore, and then fall back. The underpinnings of their personalities are extremely fragile. With adequate therapy, they could rehabilitate themselves. But such counseling can cost as much as a fifteen-minute supply of missile fuel.”

Behind again. According to Best of Business Quarterly (Winter 1989-90), the city where the most McDonald’s hamburgers are sold is Tokyo.

Dept. of priorities, all figures courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children in this country with AIDS: 1,947. Babies born per year to drug-using mothers: 375,000. Children whose lungs are at risk “because they live in areas that do not meet national air quality standards”: more than 28 million.

“Spanish and Polish are our two languages needing the most interpreters,” Cristina Ruiz, director of interpreter services for Cook County, tells Barrister (Winter 1989-90). In the same article, Glen Craney adds that the office of the chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court currently employs 18 full-time Spanish interpreters and “several” full-time Polish interpreters. Interpreters are needed for some 30,000 court appearances a year.

The hothouse effect in architecture? “For most of a century,” writes Edward Keegan in Inland Architect (January/February 1990), “Chicago architecture has been based on a dramatic dare–that by fostering a closed and ceaselessly incestuous architectural culture it could force an unbounded creativity in hothouse conditions. Chicago architects have worn their provinciality on their sleeves and it has led to both their glorious triumphs and dismal failures.”

“The education establishment has a monopoly on education,” complains Parker J. Palmer in Community Renewal Press’s Occasional Papers (January 1990), “thus making teaching and learning unnecessarily scarce, and making its professionals more powerful. If we instead created settings in which a variety of adults could share what they know with the young, we would benefit the latter and at the same time nurture a sense of commonality, a sharing of lives and resources–increasing abundance and building community from within.”

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