Must be these new video games. Title of a student paper presented last fall at an Argonne National Laboratory symposium: “Irritation From Ingestion of the Urticating Hairs of Tarantulas.”

“Who are the young poets of today who will probably become the next Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, or Paul Lawrence Dunbar of tomorrow?” Audarshia Townsend asks Illinois poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks in the Columbia College publication Chicago Arts & Communication. Brooks’s answer: “If they are worth their salt, they don’t want to be like any of them, including me.”

This program made possible by the support of corporations like you. Allan Siegel in Video (January/February): “In Chicago, a city with plentiful resources– music, theater, literature–only a handful of WTTW’s programs reflect Chicago’s cultural abundance; and few programs draw on the capabilities of Chicago’s production community….The station has a notoriously abysmal relationship with independent producers, and the vision of station management is perpetually enveloped in an elitist cloud.”

Titanic religion, as described by one participant who took to heart the idea of small Catholic faith communities at last fall’s Call to Action conference (Call to Action News, January): “We’re getting the idea. It’s almost like the old ocean liner model of church we once knew is going down and we have to head for the smaller boats. That’s not a bad thought at all.”

The 63 suburbs from Chicago south to Kankakee, west to Joliet, and east to Indiana would be the 11th largest U.S. city–just behind Phoenix and ahead of Baltimore–if they were all one, according to Profiles II: Economic and Demographic Factbook of Chicago Southland, published by Star Newspapers.

You mean you don’t always…?! Things we thought would be a good idea anytime:

I. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ latest advice to doctors considering prescribing drugs to nursing mothers (whose babies might inadvertently get dosed too): “Consider whether drug therapy is really necessary.”

II. The Stuttering Foundation’s telephone-use advice to people who stutter: “Make sure you know why you are calling.”

“The first thing the governor can do [about crime] is not to demagog the issue and say: ‘Elect me governor and crime will stop,'” Dawn Clark Netsch tells Grace Kaminkowitz in Today’s Chicago Woman (January). “There are candidates who try to convey that impression. It’s not fair, it’s not honest, and it helps to breed cynicism.”

Growth industry. Total number of conventions, trade shows, and corporate meetings held in Chicago, according to the city Convention and Tourism Bureau, January through September 1992: 21,776. Same period in 1993: 26,810 (Chicago Enterprise, January-February).

Bad taste, less filling. According to the Harper’s “Index” (January), Miller Brewing spends $300,000 a year to promote its Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund–and $150,000 to actually endow it.

Why we need to be sure the government never gets hold of a basketball team. Part of a letter from the state Department of Energy and Natural Resources to Illinois newspaper publishers: “Last year’s reporting was a success as consumers of newsprint in Illinois reported using 147,096.5 tons of recycled fibers out of the 480,648 total tons of newsprint consumed. This equated into an annual average recycled fiber usage of thirty and six-tenths percent (30.6%)….This year’s goal is twenty-eight percent.”

Trilingual city–what will the fourth language be? According to CBF News (January), the city’s new bicycling safety booklet will be published this spring in separate English, Spanish, and Polish editions.

“Obsessed with the idea of progress but constitutionally unimpressed by its results, Americans are caught in the position of constantly raising the ante,” writes downstate Knox College historian Douglas Wilson in Illinois Issues (January). “When we speak of something like poverty in America, we use a strictly American standard, and we measure it in contemporary terms. It affords us no comfort, for example, that the current official poverty level (the existence of which speaks volumes) would represent a degree of affluence in many other countries. We charitably regard the poor as deprived, but we forget that what is considered deprivation in contemporary America would not have been considered as such only 30 or 40 years ago.”

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