Go ahead, forget your glasses. Our favorite invention from the assortment of ideas recently produced by seventh- and eighth-graders at Hope Community Academy on South Lowe: “a double vision car with prescription glass for vision-impaired drivers.”

What Chicago has more of than most other major markets, according to the newsletter MarkeTrend (October 1989): “daily radio listeners,” “Asian, black, East Indian, and Hispanic consumers,” “users of the Discover Card,” “regular viewership of talk and interview shows,” “households of eight or more people.”

“70 solutions to homelessness” is what executive director Jean Butzen and president Douglas Dobmeyer of Lakefront Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Corporation call the Harold Washington SRO Apartments (formerly the Moreland Hotel) at 4946 N. Sheridan. Unfortunately, writes Thom Clark in “Making Room in the Inn” (published by the Lakefront SRO Corporation), as tenants are moving into the refurbished SRO in Uptown, “the revered late mayor’s name is being attached to another city development that will destroy much of what’s left of downtown Chicago’s SRO supply. Over one hundred SRO units in two ancient Van Buren Street rooming houses, immortalized in the Blues Brothers movie, sit across the street from the new Harold Washington Library. The master plan calls for their demolition to make way for new office development considered more compatible with the South Loop’s redevelopment.”

“The child is simply not a passive creature,” says preschool teacher, author, and MacArthur grant winner Vivian Gussin Paley, explaining why she does not recommend “good” TV programs to parents (University of Chicago Magazine, Summer 1989). “The best solution of all would be no T.V. at all, because that television dimension does not suit the way a child learns about the world. Since that’s probably impossible, then I would simply say, ‘As little as you can get away with.'”

Dept. of Mild Exaggeration. Josephinum High School for girls, located in Wicker Park, recently kicked off its 100th anniversary with a reception honoring Representative Dan Rostenkowski as “Man of the Century.”

I just can’t imagine how I ever got along without it. Creative Learning International, based on North Clark, now offers the Idea Volley Bulb, “a giant inflatable light bulb made of durable vinyl,” according to the Innovator (January 1990), the company newsletter. “Its purpose is to energize brainstorming sessions and add creativity to meetings…. As participants spike, volley and bounce the bulb among themselves they seem to be participating in some kind of idea-generating process.”

Can you Bear Stearns? Several of its women employees can’t–and no wonder, after reading what the investment firm’s president Jimmy Cayne told M (December 1989): “You don’t see many women selling securities. When a guy says on the phone to a guy, ‘I don’t want you to bother me again; I find you to be really stupid,’ a woman taking that probably isn’t going to handle it as well. She’ll probably have to go to the ladies room and dab her eyes.” One local Bear, Stearns employee faxed him a question–what if all those “eye-dabbers” didn’t show up for work on the same day? “How would the daily stress be handled then?”

The war on drugs is “the perfect war for people who would rather not fight a war,” writes Lewis Lapham in Harper’s (December 1989). It gives politicians “something to say that offends nobody, requires them to do nothing difficult, and allows them to postpone, perhaps indefinitely, the more urgent and specific questions about the state of the nation’s schools, housing, employment opportunities for young black men…. Their cynicism is implicit in the arithmetic. President Bush in his September speech asked for $7.9 billion to wage his ‘assault on every front’ of the drug war, but the Pentagon allots $5 billion a year to the B-2 program–i.e., to a single weapon…. Nor does the government offer to do anything boldly military about the legal drugs, principally alcohol and tobacco, that do far more damage to the society than all the marijuana and all the cocaine ever smuggled into Florida or California.”

“In Chicago, too strong is the wind,” visiting law professor Vladimir K. Zabigailo of Kiev State University told Loyola World (November 22). “And the taxi drivers will take you the long way if you are unfamiliar with the city–just like in Kiev.” And that’s if you’re lucky.

“Not even the people who say they want the ’60s back really want the ’60s back,” argues Louis Menand in the New Republic (October 9). “What they want is the idealism, the nonconformity, and some of the music, without the violence, the drugs, the extremism, and most of the clothing. [!] They want the authenticity without the excess, a kind of edited-for-television version of the ’60s. That wouldn’t be so bad. But they won’t get it by waiting for the past to return.” And a happy new decade to you, too.

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