“Today, Holden Caulfield is in his early fifties, has a beer belly, and commutes from the suburbs. The angry young women and men of Earth Day [1970]–who poured sewage on corporate carpets and pounded polluting automobiles apart with sledgehammers–are now middle-aged. The first generation with strontium 90 in its bones has parented a post-Chernobyl generation with iodine 131 in its thyroids. “Twenty years after Earth Day, those of us who set out to change the world are poised on the threshold of utter failure. Measured on virtually any scale, the world is in worse shape today than it was twenty years ago.” Denis Hayes, writing in the Amicus Journal (Spring 1990).

How do you tell real lakefront independents from “pseudo-liberal Machine hacks” such as Edwin Eisendrath and William Marovitz? According to David Jackson in Chicago (May 1990), it’s not so much how they vote as it is their attitude toward citizen participation. He acknowledges that 43rd Ward committeeman Ann Stepan, for one, has worked effectively for merit selection of judges and school reform, and against contra aid. But then he relates a story told by former 43rd Ward alderman Martin Oberman about the time after her 1984 election. “She asked [Oberman’s] approval to stage a fund-raising carnival in the ward. When he said they should first hold a public meeting to gauge resident support, ‘she said, “I don’t know why: It’s for a legitimate cause.”‘ When, however, residents objected to the carnival in their back yards, ‘Ann got really flustered. She couldn’t speak. She got angry. And that, I think, characterizes her approach to citizen participation in ward politics,’ Oberman says.” As a result, Jackson concludes, “The New Machine, despite its good intentions, behaves very much like the old.”

Get a head start on homelessness. Feel like taking an eight-mile hike early on a Sunday morning, without leaving town? By-Ways, newsletter of the metropolitan Chicago American Youth Hostels, announces a June 3 outing: “Meeting location to be announced. The time will be about 4 a.m. We will amble through the shopping district while it sleeps and then shortly after sunrise we will spend a good amount of time at the famous Maxwell Street Market where real bargains are.”

All deliberate speed. Writing in Windy City Times (April 12), Roly Chang-Barrera quotes an editor of the performance art magazine P-FORM: “Bureaucratic arts organizations are so far behind in acknowledging ethnic minorities as cultural that I don’t even expect them to consider gays and lesbians. They haven’t accepted us as people yet.”

Adventure travel. What does Chicago offer the international visitor? “Mary Burns [of the state Bureau of Tourism] recalls how three members of a 50-person Japanese delegation housed at the Hotel Nikko wished to see the studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, who they knew as the designer of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. They spoke no English, so Burns wrote out a series of instructions in English on cards that the travelers were to hand to friendly strangers at each stop–the first to help the trio board a west-bound train on the Lake el, the next asking another anonymous Samaritan to direct them to Oak Park’s visitor center, and so on. It worked and the three returned from their adventure delighted” (Chicago Enterprise, May 1990).

Gee, I’m sure I could remember who was president then if I put my mind to it. From the interim report of the National Commission on Children: “Census data indicate that after steady and dramatic decreases in the 1960s, childhood poverty began to increase in the 1970s, peaking at 22 percent in 1983 and remaining stubbornly above 20 percent [near 33 percent in cities] to this day.”

Bad news for the antitax fanatics, from the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois newsletter Illinois Tax Facts (February 1990): “Compared to the limitation standards of Massachusetts, New York, and California, the majority of the aggregate property tax rates within Du Page County [average $7.47 per $100 assessed valuation] are not excessive. Nor are they excessive when compared to 1987 averages of $9.29 for Cook County, $7.24 for the collar counties, $6.79 for downstate Illinois, and $7.96 for the entire state.”

Chicago’s hardboiled journalists are really softies, complains William J. Leahy (Leahy’s Corner, April 1990), who wishes they’d get tough on banks. “Mike Royko, who tells us seven times a month that the solution to a problem is to execute someone, seldom seems to go after banks. Of course, a full-page ad in the Tribune costs $35,154 each on weekdays and $49,140 for a page in the Sunday’s paper, and anyone can search as long as he wants for an investigative report on an advertiser. Wa-Wa on Channel 2 goes after ditch diggers whose union does not advertise.”

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