By that time you’d either be better or dead. “A walk-in patient at Cook County Hospital’s Fantus Clinic may wait up to eight hours to see a doctor,” reports the Metropolitan Planning Council in its Issue Brief (May 1990). “The waiting time for a non-obstetrical adult appointment at the city’s Englewood Neighborhood Health Center is about six months.”

And what a month it was. “The [park attendance] figures released to us appeared to be inflated and fictional,” reports Friends of the Parks in its critical report on Chicago neighborhood park programming. “Many supervisors were reporting that 300-400 people took daily showers in the fieldhouses during the fall/winter season. Others reported that there were festivals every day during the month of October.”

“If I can gain something from heterosexual or heteroerotic art (for instance, those innumerable heterosexual Renaissance love poems), then heterosexuals necessarily should be able to glean something of universal value from gay art,” argues Paul Varnell in Windy City Times (May 17). But you wouldn’t know it from the wimpy liberal defenses of gay art: “We heard a great deal about artistic liberty, about freedom of expression, and, of course, that old stand-by, the First Amendment. But where were the arguments–the claims–for gay-related art as having a dignity and value of its own quite beyond being tolerated within a liberal society?… Most often liberals will be on our side only when we are part of a package, or the beneficiary of some broad general principle. In the crunch, liberals are squeamish about us and our lives.”

“I meet many older people who are suffering with immense worries,” reflects Laura Epstein, professor emeritus in the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration in the UC Chronicle (April 26). “They ask questions like, ‘How does it happen that I’m here with all this know-how and I’m unemployable?’ We take these people, whose self-esteem has vanished, and we offer them therapy, when having a productive job would do more for a person’s self-esteem than all the therapy in the world, and would produce social good as well…. We wouldn’t need mind-bending if social structures would permit better roles for people.”

Du Page County’s new high-tech recycling plant in Carol Stream, scheduled to start up in the fall of 1991, will employ 15 people, cover 45,000 square feet, and cost more than $5 million–all in order to process 150 tons of recyclables in an eight-hour shift. Unfortunately, Du Pagers throw away 900 tons of garbage every eight hours (Barbara Hower in Inland Architect, May/June 1990).

“The unspoken rationale of the [Chicago] zoning ordinance seems to be that the city is such a godforsaken rathole that only the most outrageous inducements could possibly persuade anybody to build here,” writes Ed Zotti in Chicago Enterprise (June 1990). Developers can build more densely if they include plazas or arcades in their projects; but with few exceptions these have turned out to be “cheerless expanses of concrete” like the little-known plaza at Sears Tower. “What’s exasperating is that the city allows fantastically large buildings while getting virtually nothing in return.”

NASA in outer space. The U.S. Government Accounting Office reports that one NASA facility is storing 4,000 magnetic data tapes, containing irreplaceable information gleaned from three decades of space exploration, “in a sub-basement which was flooded in 1985.” The high-water marks are still visible on their metal containers.

“By global comparison Black America is a wealthy nation,” writes Hermene D. Hartman in N’Digo (May 1990). “It is projected that this year we will spend $240 billion on products, goods and services. If we were a sovereign state…our gross national product would exceed South Africa ($60 billion), Sweden ($105.5 billion), Korea ($118 billion), Mexico ($173.5 billion), Australia ($196 billion) and India ($200 billion).”

“Buying green” will not buy you a healthier planet, argue Debra Lynn Dadd and Andre Carothers in Greenpeace (May/June 1990). “Green consuming is still consuming, which is the fundamental paradox. The answer to the problem we face is not only to consume appropriately; it is primarily to consume less. Green labeling schemes are similar in philosophy to the end-of-pipeline pollution control strategies that have failed to stem pollution. They put a dent in the pollution problem, but they do not solve it. The key to protecting the planet is to prevent a problem at the source…. This means intervening early in the game in the decisions about what is produced and how it is produced.”

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