“What gives divers on the Lakes an extra charge,” according to Diving Times publisher Mike Kohut (paraphrased in the Great Lakes Reporter, May/June 1990), “is what hasn’t been found–such as a captured German World War I submarine which was scuttled decades ago by the U.S. Navy somewhere in Lake Michigan, or 250 General Motors prototype cars dumped in Lake Erie in the 1920s.”

Why so quiet? “Since January, [Maureen] Dolan [of the Chicago Electric Options Campaign] has seen a dramatic decline in the number of newspaper and magazine articles related to Edison at a time when she says the media could be playing a tremendous educational role” about the renewal–or nonrenewal–of the electricity giant’s Chicago franchise, writes Dale Eastman in New City (June 21-July 4).”Last May, it took a small weekly newspaper, the News Star, to break a highly newsworthy event–the release of a long-awaited engineering study, the Komanoff Report. The report, which had been commissioned months earlier by Mayor Eugene Sawyer’s Energy Task Force, indicated that the lowest-cost approach for the city to take would be a short-term franchise renewal with Edison that required the company to implement energy efficiency programs. The report also indicated that ‘acquisition of some or all Edison facilities within the City and establishment of a City-owned electric utility system is a viable option,’ although the cost savings predicted in an early report for a buy-out had ‘diminished.'”

Escape. Larry O’Toole reflects in At the Door (Summer 1990), newsletter of the Saint Francis House on North Kenmore: “A couple of years ago I was riding [my bicycle] down the street after just leaving my apartment. I was stopped at a red light and a young Mexican boy on the sidewalk looked at me and asked, ‘Where are you going?’ I smiled and said, ‘Wisconsin’ as the light changed. I glanced at him one last time and I saw an amazed and puzzled look on his face, as if a new possibility occurred to him which he had never thought of before.”

“He dressed like Humphrey Bogart, spoke with the flair (but not the prophetic tone) of John L. Lewis and the proletarian gruffness of Nelson Algren, and played the media like Andy Warhol”–Chicago native and community organizer extraordinaire Saul Alinsky, as described by Michael Kazin in Tikkun (May/June 1990). “Unfortunately, while the rebel’s reputation grew, most of the projects he started were faltering. In Chicago [for example], the Back of the Yards Council exerted its formidable muscle to keep black families from moving in.” How come? “The fault lies…in the original concept of ‘community organizing’ itself. Independent neighborhood groups, despite the idealism and elan with which they often begin, invariably devolve into either well-meaning but narrow exercises in self-help or bristling fronts to ward off ‘outsiders.’ Unless they link up to a larger ideological tradition and movement, the strong, steady current of particular needs and prejudices erodes the fine founding notions of ‘the people’ rising to claim their birthright and transform society. In fact, the two main waves of Alinskyite organizing both crested on the energy of national crusades–first the CIO and then the African-American freedom movement. As [Alinsky biographer Sanford] Horwitt recounts, the Temporary Woodlawn Organization, Alinsky’s first and most successful project in the black community, really took off only when it sponsored a mass rally in 1961 to support the Freedom Riders, just returned from their heroic and bloody trip through the Deep South. Alinsky refused to make such broader connections permanent, arguing that while ideological movements rise and fall, pragmatic organizations are forever.”

We find we can do without it six months of the year. Century 21 Real Estate, in its guide to “top corporation relocation markets,” claims that Los Angeles, unlike Chicago, has a “year-round climate.”

Those who don’t give a damn can wear red. At the “Single Mingle Mile” on July 29, promoters say, “singles will be wearing yellow competition numbers and married people will wear green to facilitate mingling.”

Letters we didn’t need to finish. “Now that recent developments in Poland have catapulted things Polish to front-page status, [Wodka Wyborowa] may well be the most ‘politically correct’ vodka for today.”

Paul Simon remembers the first peace dividend (Congressional Record, June 14): “Within 3 years of the end of [World War II], defense spending was reduced 90 percent…And what some saw as a Great Depression coming on the heels of that drop in spending, turned into a huge growth in our economy.”

“There is a strong element of hypocrisy in the so-called ‘tax revolt,'” writes editor David H. Roeder in Chicago Enterprise (July/August 1990). “By and large, it is a protest from a privileged class: homeowners who chortle about their increasing property values but scream when the tax bills reflect the real-estate market.”

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