Seen any tire fires lately? Turn them in to the Illinois EPA–which says it’s getting tough on such polluters–at the agency’s Maywood number, 708-345-9780.

If a big oil or chemical spill hit the city’s Lake Michigan water intakes, says a Lake Michigan Federation spokesperson, “we would have to rely on very expensive carbon treatment and/or bring in hundreds of fleets of trucks and barges loaded with fresh water. The potential traffic problems alone would be enormous!” Not what we would have thought of first, but sure…

“In years past, black-oriented radio trumpeted its connection to the street,” writes Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (November 1-7). “The extent of that link, in fact, measured a station’s cultural authenticity. African-Americans of all classes found entertainment and a sense of cultural solidarity at a particular spot on the radio dial. But as the ’80s draw to a close…. the income difference and social distance between middle-class blacks and the one-third of black Americans classified as poor is larger…than ever before in this country’s post-slavery history. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the top one-fifth of black families received 47 percent of the total black income in 1986, while the lowest fifth received only 3.4 percent.” So it’s not surprising, he says, that one black-oriented Chicago radio station now distances itself from the underclass by advertising “no heavy beat and, emphatically, ‘no rap.'”

The five no-nos that will keep your public-service announcement off Channel Two, according to The Neighborhood Works (October/ November 1989): “mention of class reunions, Las Vegas nights, beer, wine, or liquor.”

City of the best compost. “Chicago’s goal is to produce a high quality, consistent compost” from yard and landscape waste, reports the U. of I. Solid Waste Management Newsletter (October 1989). “When the results of an unofficial nutrient analysis of the compost came back from Purdue University, [assistant Streets and Sanitation commissioner Douglas] Ziesemer learned that his samples were ‘possibly the best landscape waste compost they’ve tested.'”

Just what the pope would like to see. Chicago Catholic Women Newsletter (November 1989) is looking for “women with children to host or come to a coffee to discuss ‘Raising Catholic Feminist Children.'”

“Hospitals…are best appreciated as an extractive industry, on a par with the more familiar forms of mining,” writes Barbara Ehrenreich in Mother Jones (November 1989). “In a hospital, human parts–blood, urine, kidneys, limbs, uteruses, etc.–are removed, thus leaving the general population lighter and sleeker. Some of these parts are recycled to people who are themselves in need of kidneys, blood, or, for that matter, urine. It is true, a few parts cannot adequately be accounted for. The fat removed in liposuction, for example, may have something to do with the texture of the french fries served at McDonald’s, though that is only conjecture. The rest of the human tissue removed is essential to the production of medical waste.”

“Among all ethnic or racial groups, black people have the highest incidence rates for all types of cancer combined, the highest mortality rate and the worst overall survival rate,” according to researcher Steven Whitman of Northwestern University’s Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research (Urban Affairs News, Fall 1989). Whitman is involved in a UIC-based project to see if better education and screening can reduce black female cancer rates. “We are going into the streets of the worst oppressed communities in the city,” he says. “If utilized properly, this is an extraordinary opportunity to keep black women from dying an undue death from cancer.”

Navy Pier may be running half a million in the red, but who cares? Not its new boss James Reilly, who explains to Chicago Enterprise (November 1989): “You can talk about a deficit at Lincoln Park, but nobody thinks about Lincoln Park that way. People just understand that Lincoln Park is a big public space and that the public will pay for the costs of operation.”

Bag up your garbage in those old potato peels. Argonne National Laboratory reports that researchers there can make biodegradable plastics from potato and cheese waste, and can even during manufacturing select the desired rate of decay.

“The visitor industry currently contributes more revenue to Illinois’ economy than agriculture,” says the Chicago Tourism Council’s newsletter Points of Interest (Fall 1989). Even so, Chicago still lags behind New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., as a favorite tourist destination.

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