Sorry, I won’t be able to come over the evening of December 31. I have other plans… Walgreen pharmacist Pauline Cheung advises consumers to “weed out your medicine cabinet once a year” to get rid of outdated drugs. “Because it’s an easy date to remember, I do mine every New Year’s Eve!”

Things you never knew you needed until you read the Wisconsin-based “Fishing Hot Spots” holiday catalog: “LEECHES ALIVE-WELL. The leeches you’ve just bought need more room, fresh water, a way to handle them. The Leeches Alive-Well is made for leeches. High impact plastic, screw-on lid, the right number of air holes to drop right into your minnow bucket. Just lift it out, drain some water, and hook up a fresh leech…. Holds 6 dozen!”

“In architecture, if you’re able to hold the same values and priorities as your male counterparts, the sky’s the limit,” says Diane Legge, formerly a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, according to Today’s Chicago Woman (November 1990). “As long as you put your work before your family, there’s no problem. As long as you’re willing to travel all the time and put your marriage on hold, there’s no problem. Obviously, there’s a problem.” And the problem is that male architects are too macho to admit it. “I tried to do what I felt was right, which meant that I went home early. I put family first and refused to do certain jobs that required extensive travel. I thought that perhaps by example, people would get the message. But I was the only one doing it. Yet I believe that in their hearts, the other partners would like to do it too, but they just can’t because everybody has to do what everybody else is doing. I did it differently because I was always different, but it would really help if one of the men did it. That would break the chain.”

“I get calls almost daily from escaped lunatics who labor under the delusion that it is possible to get me to send them money because of something they say on the phone,” writes Richard Frisbie in the Uncommentator (November 1990). “If it’s not Boesky & Milken selling investments, it’s Prestone Imports offering wine by the case.”

You want a prescription for what? Our favorite session in the Milwaukee County Zoo’s recent 11th International Elephant Workshop: “The Pharmacokinetics of Ampicillin Administered Orally in Elephants.”

Cairo, Chester, Alton, Quincy, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Toulon, Princeton, Springfield, Delavan, Dillon, Elk Grove, Tremont, Groveland, Morton, Washington, Metamora, Crow Creek, and many more downstate towns are on the list of pre-Civil War “underground railroad” stations by which slaves escaped from the south to freedom. They will be among the towns inventoried by the National Park Service as part of Senator Paul Simon’s initiative to designate an “Underground Railroad Historic Trail.”

“There is no real war on drugs today,” Cook County Public Defender Randolph Stone says in the Compiler (Fall 1990). “It is pure rhetoric. What we have is the corrections and law enforcement branches, along with an increasing number of prison industries, on a [financial] feeding frenzy.”

Chicago from the Metra ticket seller’s vantage point. “We theorize that Chicago is changing from an ’employment’ center to an ‘entrepreneurial’ hub–with more people working flex time and more executives spending one or two days a week on out-of-town trips. For instance, suburban parking lots that are 100 percent sold out to holders of monthly permits are frequently only 70-80 percent full at 10 a.m. Also, sales of 10-ride tickets–discounted 15 percent and good for six months–have grown tremendously. We sell 300,000 10-rides a month, compared with 60,000 in 1984. We have seen only a modest increase in sales of the monthly ticket, which bears a 27 percent discount and is good for that month only. Between 1984 and 1990, monthly ticket sales have gone from about 265,000 a month to just over 280,000” (On the (Bi)Level, November 1990).

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a secretary of education who was this honest? Lynn Martin in 1983: “If all the teacher colleges closed tomorrow, I think we would have a better and stronger America.”

Class analysis from the American Cancer Society: “Former smokers tend to be white, more educated, male and have greater income. Only 13% of individuals living below the poverty level are former smokers, compared to 26% of those with higher incomes. Current smokers tend to have lower income and be less educated when compared to those who have never smoked.”

Naked city. Paul Glassman in Inland Architect (November/ December 1990): “The Crate & Barrel building [at 646 N. Michigan Ave.] is a bright, shiny, and dynamic form, small in scale, and shamelessly transparent.”

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