The buckthorn that ate Chicago. The state Department of Conservation is warning against 14 nonnative weeds that are overrunning and smothering native Illinois plants. The devil weeds include such former “good guys” as crown vetch, multiflora rose, and autumn olive. Also on the least-wanted list: smooth buckthorn, common buckthorn, purple loosestrife, Japanese honeysuckle, white sweet clover, Amur honeysuckle, giant teasel, black locust (a tree), garlic mustard, round-leaved bittersweet, and purple winter creeper.

“The railroad has changed very little in the past 100 years, the automobile has reached its technological maturity and air travel is cursed with delays,” complains Senator Alan Dixon. He’s cosponsoring the “FAST Act,” in which he proposes “the construction of a national superconducting magnetic levitation ground transportation system by 1993” that would travel at more than 300 miles per hour. Dixon wants to avoid congestion–but how will he levitate from Chicago to Detroit without encountering a lot of other kinds of vehicles heading in the same direction?

“Unless there is a videotape of the crime in progress, five eye-witnesses, three of whom are priests, physical evidence and a confession in open court, I’m going to be concerned about whether I can win this case,” writes Vermilion County state’s attorney Craig DeArmond in Missing Children Bulletin (February/March 1988). “Although our jury system is probably the greatest legal process on earth, what jurors have relied upon or been impressed with in reaching their decisions has frightened me more than once. I once had a woman indicate she found the defendant guilty because she believed everything I said. Why, because when I ran my fingers through my hair casually, ‘not one hair fell out of place.'”

Q. The Superfund is: (A) Money believed stolen from the PTL Club, (B) a campaign war chest for the Republicans, (C) money reserved for cleaning up hazardous wastes, or (D) taxes accumulated in the state treasury each year. According to WBBM, this was the toughest question in the station’s recent IBM-sponsored Current Events Competition. Only 25.7 percent of the high school seniors competing chose the right answer.

Not to be confused with the lecture hall. Among the “hidden treasures” on the UIC campus, as described by At Chicago (April 6), is the nap room, complete with wake-up service.

Did he die of AIDS? You don’t need to know. “The Chicago Department of Health opposes the labeling of corpses of known HIV-infected persons,” testified Dr. Arthur Brewer before the state Department of Public Health recently Brewer is the acting medical director of the city’s AIDS Activity Office. “Given the large number of persons who are unknowing HIV-positive, it makes more Public Health sense to treat all cadavers as potentially hazardous, rather than just single out the relatively few who will be known to a physician. This [labeling] would give a false sense of security to post-mortem care takers.”

Dept. of indispensable professional advice. According to Electronic Realty Associates, “Four out of 10 Chicago area brokers who participated in [a recent ERA poll] specifically urged people looking for a home to ask about the age and condition of household systems such as heating and air conditioning and about the dryness of the basement.” What about the other six?

Why do filmmakers like Chicago extras? “We can pull from our ethnic groups and large pool of faces,” says Illinois Film Office director Suzy Kellet. But it’s also our willingness to work cheap. “Extras here are still primarily in it for the thrill,” writes R. Craig Sautter in Chicago Life (May/June 1988). West coast rates often start at $91 for the first eight hours, and more for overtime; in Chicago it’s $50-75.

Either Chicago is more scenic or the relatives are crankier. The state’s tourism-promoting Department of Commerce and Community Affairs reports that of midwestern tourists in the city, 22 percent say they’re here to see the sights (up from 16 percent in 1984), while 40 percent are visiting friends and relatives–down from 45 percent.

Multiply the number of employees you have by 6 percent. Then divide your employees’ annual salary by four. Then multiply the two resulting figures. The final figure, according to Chicago antiaddiction consultant MariJean Suelzle, is “a conservative estimate” of the amount of money your business loses to alcohol and drug abuse.

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