“The Wienermobile experience is finally complete,” according to Oscar Mayer Foods, celebrating the return of the giant hot-dog-shaped vehicles, which include “steam vents which emit the aroma of freshly grilled hotdogs to entice passers-by.”

“Chester Dunbar’s murder”–he was 16 years old and was killed while sitting in geometry class, for having made fun of a gang jacket–“outraged Chicago’s citizens and attracted a star-studded cast to Harper High School to condemn the brutal act,” reports Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (November 8-14). “But Dunbar’s alleged assailant is now a folk hero of sorts in the neighborhood surrounding the school, and the gang to which he belonged has risen a notch in esteem. Metal detectors may help keep the weapons out of Chicago’s inner-city schools, but it will take considerably more than that to bring education in.”

The biggest money river, according to Tax Facts (September/October 1989): “In 1988 local property tax levies in Cook County totaled $4.5 billion, a sum so large it represents in the aggregate the single-greatest revenue stream in state and local government in Illinois. In stunning contrast, the Illinois sales tax for the entire state brought in only $3.6 billion in 1988, and the combined individual and corporate Illinois state income tax brought in a total of just $4.1 billion.”

Fiction stranger than fact. Peter Bynoe, executive director of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, replied on November 17 to a WBBM AM editorial criticizing his agency’s housing for residents displaced by the new Comiskey Park: “There have been no giveaways to the White Sox.”

“If I collected Du Page County phone books,” says U. of C. historian Martin Marty in The City That Works (November 1989), “there would be evidence of several dozen non-western groups, non-Judeo-Christian worshippers, to say nothing of living-room gatherings of groups that do not advertise in the yellow pages…. These are Iranian engineers, Pakistani physicians, Indonesian nurses, Japanese computer experts, and other permanent settlers who brought their faiths with them…”

“The Hispanic women we interviewed were perhaps the most desperate of all,” says Loyola University sociologist Kathleen McCourt in describing interviews conducted as part of her “Homelessness Prevention Project.” “They came to Chicago with their husbands, leaving family and friends behind in Mexico. They are hampered because they don’t know English, and their legal status is questionable. They are often unaware of the services available to them.”

Facts we were getting along just fine without: In the show’s one-year-and-counting Chicago run, the cast of Steel Magnolias has used up, on-stage, 25 cans of hair spray, 60 bottles of pink nail polish, and more than 5,000 homemade cookies.

The Great Lakes area “has been the site of some of professional sports’ oddest moments,” according to the Great Lakes Reporter (September/ October 1989). “Only in the Great Lakes, for example, has a baseball game been ‘fogged out’: in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium…. Montreal has the only roofed stadium ever to suffer a rain delay, when the retractable roof balked one day this spring.” And “the Great Lakes was actually the home of the first major championship of an outdoor sport ever played indoors, more than 50 years ago. A spectacular 1930s snowstorm forced the Chicago Bears… to play the league championship game on a layer of dirt atop Chicago Stadium’s hockey rink.”

Dept. of things we now need experts to tell us, from the Better Sleep Council: “You have to be active in some way in the daytime in order to become tired out and fall asleep quickly at night.”

Eh? What was that you said? According to the Fall 1989 newsletter of the Lincoln Park Conservation Association, the agreement between LPCA and other neighborhood groups and DePaul University includes this provision: “DePaul will promptly establish student regulations restricting unreasonable, sustained noise emitted from its property.”

Thank you, George. “Many young people in China look up to the U.S. as their ideal of freedom and democracy,” says “Bai Xiaoying,” a pseudonym for a Chinese law student in this country, in Mother Jones (December 1989). “Yet when these very Chinese were fighting and dying for freedom and democracy, the president of the United States merely said, ‘I feel sorry this has happened.’ He refused to condemn the government that ordered the massacre, and pretended he did not know who was responsible for it. This is like throwing a wreath instead of a life preserver to someone who is drowning.”

Number of supermarkets in Chicago’s largest predominantly white communities (population 493,161): 69. Number in Chicago’s largest predominantly black communities (population 629,499): 9 (Chicago Reporter, November 1989).

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