Pay a robot to say nice things about you. The new “Hug Line” offers “an ‘upbeat’ message that tells you that you are a very special person” to any touch-tone phone user who can dial its 900 number.

Chicago neighborhoods with the greatest need for additional preschool places, according to a recent Voices for Illinois Children report: Austin (with an estimated 2,086 fewer preschool slots than three- to five-year-olds in need), Humboldt Park (1,692 short), Logan Square (1,484 short), and Grand Boulevard (1,335 short).

“It was evident during our site visits that neighborhood park employees had been ‘warned’ by the Chicago Park District administration that Friends of the Parks was making random visits,” report Anne Ryder and Debra Nelson in Recreational and Cultural Programs in Chicago’s Parks: The Need for Change. “Our surveyors saw several occasions when employees that had been relaxing in the fieldhouses began to teach classes or clean floors upon our arrival.” And then there were the serious nonworkers: “On one occasion at Grand Crossing Park most of the recreation staff was sitting in the supervisor’s office with the supervisor conversing after 3:00 PM while children waited in the halls for classes to begin. These staff members and the supervisor did not attempt to accommodate our staff, but continued with their conversation as if we and the children were not around.”

City of the Big New Age Shoulders. From an interview with “Lazaris” in Chicago’s obsessively metaphorical Monthly Aspectarian (May 1990): “It is time for you in the Chicago area, representing the root of the Midwest, to get involved in what metaphysics and spirituality is all about…. While others have contended that there ‘is nothing here,’ we have all along said and felt that you can offer a solidity and a practical application to an otherwise ‘out there’ metaphysics. You can provide a specific keel that can give a steady course to the blustery winds and high waves that one often finds in the metaphysics of either coast.”

Where’s mine? State senator Richard Newhouse, quoted in a press release, on the last McCormick Place expansion: “I walked through the parking lots during the construction and I saw license plates from Oklahoma, North Dakota and West Virginia. I saw numerous suburban stickers on Illinois cars…. What I want to know is, are those jobs [in the next expansion] for Chicagoans?”

But who will protect us from the savings-and-loan executives? From a recent press release: “The Illinois League of Savings Institutions has endorsed a new statewide initiative designed to thwart the efforts of con artists and swindlers. According to League president J. Dennis Montgomery, the program, designated ‘Operation SCAMS’ (Senior Cash Alert Monitoring System), was developed through the cooperative efforts of the Illinois Office of the Attorney General, Illinois League and various other financial institution trade associations, law enforcement organizations, and senior citizens groups throughout Illinois.”

You clean up that planet right now or–no supper! “Our planet home has suffered from the patriarchal mentality that someone else will clean up after men make the messes of doing business,” writes Carolyn Raffensperger in the Chicago-based Christian feminist magazine Daughters of Sarah (May/June 1990). “After interviewing the CEO of Exxon following the oil spill in Alaska, one reporter noted that the CEO probably didn’t have to pick up his socks at home either. Men have spent generations making messes, some of them pretty big. Witness Bhopal, Chernobyl, and Prince William Sound in Alaska. These men demonstrate that they have little idea about who or what cleans up, much less what actually constitutes ‘clean.’ Ecofeminists have much to teach men about planet housekeeping.”

“We do question whether a city facing an affordable housing crisis can afford to devote large amounts of public resources to a private real estate speculation such as Central Station [the $3-4 billion retail-hotel-office-residential-exhibition development along the lake south of Roosevelt Road],” writes Ron Voss of UIC’s Voorhees Neighborhood Center in One City (March/April 1990). “With $100 million, less than half of what the developer wants the city to pour into the Central Station complex, the city could leverage the financing for 12,000 units of affordable housing for 30,000 Chicago citizens, AND have its investment returned in 12 years.”

Of the coal mines, by the oil refineries, for the nuclear utilities. According to the Safe Energy Communication Council, the percentage of Americans in 1989 who favored renewable-energy sources as the number-one or number-two priority for federal Department of Energy funding: 77. Federal support for renewables in 1980: $718.5 million. Federal support for renewables in 1990: $113.1 million.

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