Blub! According to a recent press release, the atrium lobby of the Embassy Suites Hotel/O’Hare is home to a worldwide assortment of tropical saltwater fish “housed in a 300-gallon octagonal fish tank that is an exact replica of the hotel.”

“It does not matter who is elected mayor of Chicago,” growled Richard Kaplan in the Northwestern Review (April 3, 1987) just before the election. “The disease will not disappear.” What disease? “I happened to see one of the symptoms of the disease as I was leaving for spring break. At the Foster ‘el’ stop, I watched a Chicago Transit Authority employee at work, and, simultaneously, at rest. Ostensibly he was there to pick up trash and clean up the station. But he . . . sat down on a bench near me and did nothing. That is, nothing until he heard a train coming. Then he stood up and shuffled over to an abandoned half-full beer bottle. He picked it up, emptied its contents onto the tracks, and tossed the bottle into his sack. By the time he had completed this task, the train had come and gone, and the CTA man sat back down.”

Oops. The Washington Times’s Insight magazine (May 11, 1987) calls University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind “The Book of the Year”: “Its frightening, convincing thesis is that people in the United States have lost their capacity to reason and to tell good from evil and are not educated well enough to think independently.” Unfortunately for Insight’s ultraconservative agenda, this calls immediately to mind the 1984 election, when U.S. voters massively endorsed a president with whose policies they disagreed, just because he made them feel good about America.

“It’s a little like throwing money down a sinkhole,” said Bob Gannett of Save Our Neighborhoods/Save Our City about the Chicago Public Schools at an April 25 meeting. “Just this week, Superintendent Byrd sent a message to Governor Thompson that money was the problem and that we need more. This same superintendent hired 240 new administrators last year — money which does not follow children into the classroom.” SON/SOC has joined CURE (Chicagoans United to Reform Education), which advocates radically decentralizing Chicago’s public school system and, among other things, “giving the staff of a school a salary bonus if their students make significant progress.”

Is a “Chicago and Vicinity Show” of artists bush league? Maybe so, writes Eleanor Heartney in New Art Examiner (May 1987). In Chicago, museums serve both to launch local artists and to bring in outside developments. “This double role is unknown in New York. Defending the Art Institute’s decision to temporarily rescind and rethink the Chicago and Vicinity Show, [associate curator Neal] Benezra asks, ‘Would the Whitney do a New York and Vicinity Show?’ The answer is: no, of course not, because in the Big Apple the best locally based artists are also assumed to be artists of national and international stature.”

“What is perhaps most demonic about this war is that the aggressor sacrifices none of its soldiers,” says UIC associate professor of English Preston M. Browning Jr., explaining why he chose to be arrested April 27 at CIA headquarters protesting the U.S. proxy war against Nicaragua. “Moreover, as my colleague in international law at the University of Illinois at Urbana, Francis Boyle, has pointed out, in prosecuting such a war through armed bands who terrorize civilian populations, the United States is guilty of violation of . . . the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles, the Treaty of the Organization Of American States, the Charter of the United Nations among others. . . . In a society that was truly governed by respect for the rule of law, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, William Casey, et al would have long since been tried for ‘war crimes.'”

“If you want to have a serious discussion with your doctor, put your clothes on and talk to him in the office where you can communicate on more equal footing,” advises Gene Kudirka, director of the Center for Women’s Health at Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston.

Wanna bet? J.H. Johnson reports in Windy City Times (April 16, 1987) that when playwright Larry Kramer spoke to an audience of 800 young gays and lesbians recently, he asked them to stand and then told them, “In five years, two-thirds of you will be dead.” English gay activist Simon Watney was in that audience, and later he described Kramer’s action as “wicked. . . . the antithesis of health education. You cannot frighten people into celibacy.”

“With proper guidance American employers can learn how to motivate Hispanics to much better performance and, at the same time, keep them out of the clutches of the unions,” writes Dr. Woodruff Imberman, a consultant with offices on LaSalle Street, in Area Development (April 1987). “They cannot be managed or motivated in the same fashion as American workers.” Uh huh — and with proper guidance you can motivate antiunion consultants, too, although not in the same fashion as Americans.

What do neighborhood groups want from the second Washington administration? “More,” says James Capraro, executive director of the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, in the Neighborhood Works (May 1987). “More economic development, more results, more projects, more money from local funds. . . . We’ve spent four years opening up the process, getting access, empowering. Now we’ve got to get results.”

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