Dept. of animal wrongs. Raccoons living in Illinois state parks are suffering from gum disease, according to U. of I. veterinary epidemiologist Laura Hungerford: “These raccoons are eating the remains of human food and getting dental problems that look just like those seen in humans.” Some are suffering other injuries known to be suffered by certain humans: “Many park-dwelling raccoons have cuts on their faces and paws and a few have broken legs. We think this may occur from digging through trash…”

Compliments of the mysterious kind, from the announcement of a Chicago Communications luncheon on November 14: “This year’s speaker, Brent Musburger, is a metaphor for sports broadcasting.”

Family reunion. When Chicago mother Joann Mitchell became homeless in 1988, the state Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said she could regain custody of her children only if she had a two-bedroom apartment. The catch, according to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago (LAFC) News (August 1990), was that she couldn’t possibly afford one. “Mitchell works part-time and receives General Assistance of $165 per month. Virtually all two bedroom apartments in Chicago rent for a minimum of $400 per month, and many apartments require a one or two month security deposit. The State of Illinois has spent over $45,000 on foster care for Mitchell’s children since 1985, but has spent nothing on helping Mitchell herself to regain housing.” In May the Legal Assistance Foundation won a federal-district-court injunction ordering DCFS to start doing just that. “LAFC attorneys estimate as many as 1,500 Illinois children each year could return home if their families had housing.”

Reagan chickens come home to roost, as local property taxes rise to make up for federal cuts: Tax Facts (August 1990) notes that while equalized assessed valuation in Illinois grew by 24 percent between 1983 and 1988, property-tax extensions increased by 40 percent.

Where to find good help. Focus on Immigration (July-August 1990) reports on 19 studies of various non-Southeast Asian refugees in the U.S.: “Labor force participation rates are generally above those of the U.S. population. The estimated rate for Afghans is 65 to 81 percent; for Ethiopians, Rumanians, and Poles it is 75 percent or more. This compares with a U.S. employment participation rate of roughly 66 percent.”

Winning the war against psychobabble. “Most of us (including many doctors) are convinced that grief always follows the same patterns,” according to the Berkeley Wellness Letter, reprinted in Y-Me Hotline (Summer 1990), which is published in Homewood. “That is, the bereaved person first experiences deep distress and depression, then begins to ‘work through’ and adjust to the new situation, and finally resolves the loss and resumes functioning. But according to Camille Wortman of the University of Michigan and her co-author Roxane SilerÉpeople don’t always conform to this pattern. In fact, there are really no definitions for ‘normal’ grieving or ‘working through.'”

Let he who has never been to New Buffalo cast the first stone. “Why do you have a summer house in Michigan?” Nate Lee asks Mayor Daley (New City, August 16-29). “It doesn’t matter that it’s only an hour or so from the crises back home, but it does matter that it’s two states away….When you say ‘Yes! Michigan!’ you say ‘No! Chicago!'”

Where would you prefer to be in the minority? The similarities between South Africa and Israel are disappearing, writes Joel Bleifuss in the Chicago-based socialist weekly In These Times (August 1-14). “In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) has been legalized and the ANC flag can be displayed. But in Israel, membership in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) remains a crime, as does the flying of the Palestinian flag. In South Africa, ANC leader Nelson Mandela is meeting with the white government to negotiate change. In Israel, PLO leaders are barred from entering the country and people connected to the PLO are expelled. In South Africa, the opposition press now operates relatively freely. In Israel, West Bank journalists are persecuted.”

Why advertising is subversive, according to Barbara Ehrenreich in Z (July-August 1990): “What the consumer culture can deliver is hardly ever as satisfying as what it claims to offer….A new hair conditioner will not bring romantic adventure. A lite beer will not give us the camaraderie of an old-fashioned blue-collar bar. Yet it is romance–or camaraderie, or affection, or respect–that the ads hold out to us….In this way, [they] keep reminding us of what it is we really want: Not hair conditioner, but human connectedness; not ‘Infiniti,’ but genuine adventure; not the lite beer itself, but a friendly community in which to enjoy it.”

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