Dept. of limited options. From a Chicago commercial dating-service questionnaire: “My friends consider me to be: _ Very Attractive _ Somewhat Attractive _ Above Average _ Average _ Fairly Plain”

“The late Ira Bach, long-time city planning director and author of Chicago on Foot…. walked from his Loop office each day, rain or shine, to his home five miles away in Uptown,” writes James Krohe Jr. in Chicago Times (July/August 1989). “To the sedentary this regimen did, and does, verge on the heroic; Wally Phillips resorted to italics to express his amazement in the foreword to a recent edition of Bach’s book, as if it were odd that a man who loved cities might enjoy being in one every day.”

What is the most important television program ever to originate in Chicago? According to Museum of Broadcast Communications president Bruce DuMont, the first Kennedy-Nixon debate in September 1960.

Thank you, Ms. Social Worker; now leave us alone. “Jane Addams and her nutrition-conscious associates were appalled at the reliance on pasta in the diets of Italian families,” writes Richard Bjorklund in One City (May/June 1989). “To counter this, Hull House residents prepared a demonstration meal complete with elements from all basic food groups. They set up the banquet and invited Italian women to come and taste the goodness of a balanced diet. They came, they tasted, they scowled and returned to their tenements to cook more pasta for their families.”

Yes, that’s my universe. This from the University of Chicago: “A new theory of how galaxies formed suggests that they may be distributed in the universe like the frosty planes inside a fractured ice cube rather than at random.”

Rejection notices we wish we’d received–this one from the Reader’s Digest: “Unfortunately, the article is too special for us…”

Business as usual. Drawing on Federal Home Loan Bank Board statistics for 1987 and the first half of 1988, Susan Chandler reports in Chicago Enterprise (July/August 1989) that “residents of low-income white neighborhoods are more likely to obtain mortgages than residents of more-affluent black neighborhoods.” The racial difference persists even when income is held constant. For instance, 71 percent of mortgage applicants from low-income minority census tracts were accepted, compared to 79 percent in low-income nonminority tracts. In moderate-income areas minority-area applicants were accepted 73 percent of the time, those from nonminority areas 86 percent. In upper-income areas the figures were 69 percent for minority-area applicants and 85 percent for those from nonminority areas.

Don’t just sit there–think something! This from James Nowlan’s book, A New Game Plan for Illinois: “According to John Talmadge of the Office of Technology Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the venture capitalists say they would rather invest here than on the coasts, but claim there are not many ideas here.”

“No one can strike now,” laments Chicago labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan in the New Republic (May 29), “because there have never been more scabs. The scabs today are not just the unemployed, but those with jobs, too–people getting $3.75 an hour frying burgers, people who can triple their wage by helping to break a strike. And they are everywhere…. After all, the ex-steelworkers have not gone away. The Steelworkers, in the Chicago area alone, lost over 70,000 members in the ’80s. Under Carter they were union men, and then under Reagan they became boys: dishwasher boys, bellboys, shoeshine boys. Some of them are still in…well, ‘manufacturing.’ They dip their hands in strange chemicals, for five dollars an hour, with no health insurance.”

I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in. “Of those AIDS patients actually referred to nursing homes,” reports the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, “half are sent to Oak Forest Hospital–the only long-term care facility in the state with space reserved for people with AIDS–and Oak Forest reserves only four beds for this population.” That population is estimated at 100 in Chicago.

How to avoid the “mommy track,” according to Barbara Ehrenreich (Mother Jones, July/August 1989): “Be prepared for tricky psychological questions, such as: Would you rather (a) spend six straight hours in a windowless conference room with a group of arrogant, boorish men fighting over their spread sheets, or (b) scrape congealed pabulum off a linoleum floor? (The answer, surprisingly, is a.) Or try this one: Would you rather (a) feed apple juice to a hungry baby, or (b) figure out how to boost profits by diluting the company’s baby apple-juice product with wastewater from the local nuclear power plant?”

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