Dept. of Guilt Intensification: The state Department on Aging reports that 94-year-old Fannie Chanin of Wilmette gets up at 6 AM to lead a daily exercise program at a group-living facility for the elderly–after going through her own one-hour exercise routine.

“We are justified in favoring our own species over others,” writes Nathaniel Comfort in a letter to Utne Reader (November/Decem-ber 1989). “All organisms live at the expense of other organisms. Life is by nature cyclic. Mr. Siegel’s contention that the exploitation of other species is immoral reflects a sentimental condescension that would make any self-respecting feline gag.” Meow!

Why did all the movie theaters in the Loop close? “It is absurd to suggest the downtown movie market simply evaporated,” reflects Ed Zotti in Chicago Enterprise (October 1989). “Rather, one suspects, the Loop movie audience was made up of the wrong kinds of people…. Racial considerations may also play a role in the choice of retailers for the new commercial developments along State Street. Spokesmen for the upscale merchants have been vocal in their disapproval of some of the shabby discount operators on the west side of the street. The criticism carefully has been focused on the stores–rather than the race of their clientele–but one cannot help wondering.”

Illinois takes stern measures to deal with its education surplus. The state Department of Corrections announced October 6 that it “will spend as much as $8 million to convert the former Assumption High School in East St. Louis into a pre-release and community correctional center with space for as many as 350 inmates.”

Dangers of liberal education, as demonstrated by Keith Privett in the U. of C. student publication Chicago Maroon (October 10): “Even with most seats designated as non-smoking, accumulated smoke adds to the weight of a plane, wasting more fuel.” Um, did we miss the surgeon general’s report proving that smoking creates matter?

That was then, this is now. “Often regarded as a promise made for all time, the vow, properly understood and entered into, is nothing of the sort,” writes Jim Kenney in an article on spiritual search in the Chicago-based Conscious Choice (Fall 1989). The vow “is rather the deepest expression of centered existence of which the individual is capable at that moment and at that focal point of the universe. Just as the utterance of the prophet is not an account of things to come but a profound reflection of the present….vowing is seeing with new or renewed eyes. In this sense, the vow is without content and yet overflowing with potential energy.” Just as long as it doesn’t commit me to anything, OK?

“Of the developed nations, the US is by far the most egregious violator of the internationally recognized right to housing,” acording to Neil Smith and Maureen O’Connor in Extra! (Summer 1989). “Press coverage mixes sympathy and anger with a penchant for blaming the victims, but implicitly accepts the ruling ideology that housing is a privilege earned in the market rather than a right.”

“To some extent drugs are replacing Communism as the bogeyman,” says commodities millionaire Richard Dennis in an interview with In These Times (October 25-31). “We can’t stand the costs associated with the war on drugs: casual users being a target, drug-related crime continuing because we are not going to end the demand for drugs by addicts no matter what the penalties, the continued empowerment of the Colombian drug lords in our hemisphere, the possibility of a Vietnam-type war. Ultimately the parallels to Prohibition will become so obvious and so painfully clear that the administration’s drug policy will fail.”

First, make sure your artist doesn’t idolize Robert Mapplethorpe. From the 55 suggestions offered by the state Arts Council for celebrating Illinois Arts Week, November 12-18: “Suggest that businesses ‘adopt’ an artist for Arts Week and provide space for the artist to demonstrate and exhibit his or her work.”

For power shoppers only. The Four Seasons Hotel near North Michigan Avenue offers a Thanksgiving package “that puts guests first in line when stores open Friday morning, the busiest shopping day of the year.”

“These results shatter some misleading stereotypes,” says Joan Jeter Slay of the school-reform group Designs for Change. “Candidate turnouts in schools with 90% or more low-income students or black students or Hispanic students are virtually the same as the turnouts in other neighborhoods…. The skeptics are going to have to rethink their positions.”

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