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Test Your Leftness 

It;s fashionable to be liberal again. Do you remember how?

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Now that commie student radical war protester Bill Clinton has been elected president, and 12 years of Republican rule will soon be a memory, it's safe for lefties to be lefty again. That's easy for those of us pure hearts who kept our ideology sacred and our bank accounts dry. But for others who, um, went in another direction, becoming (just temporarily, right?) neoconservatives, Reagan Democrats, tax gripers, hard-hearted greedy little fascist bastards--for those who . . . strayed, we offer this refresher course, in the form of a quiz.

But first, a few suggestions for self-rehabilitation. Repeat this affirmation: It's OK to be a member of the ACLU. Then go to your safe-deposit box and retrieve your card. It's OK that you tried to burn it in the microwave in 1988. Forgive yourself. Then remove the fake cover (Women Who Buy Books and the Men Who Meet Them for Coffee) from your worn copies of the classics: Steal This House, The Radical's Laboratory, and Fifty Things to Do While Waiting for the Solar Power Collector to Kick In. Relax. Bathe yourself in white light. We'll get you back in touch with your inner progressive. You'll recapture the essence of what you need to know to fit into the newest world order. Splash on some patchouli, put on a "Nobody but Harold" button from your sock drawer, dig out that old copy of Michael Harrington's The Other America. Get into your go-limp mode and open your mind to the quiz below. You'll save yourself a trip to the reeducation camp in Rogers Park.

Answers are at the end. In order not to push you too quickly out of your Republican mind-set, we present many questions that have only one correct answer, in true patriarchal fashion. But in order to nudge you gently toward pluralism, we give you some questions with two or more correct answers.

1. What is Hull House? (one extra point if you can name the location)

a. Slang term for the hangout of traders of sesame-seed futures

b. Biggest feminist organic-popcorn cooperative in the midwest; target of mid-70s controversy involving the hiring of males as delivery persons

c. Chicago settlement house founded by pacifist Jane Addams

d. Birthplace of secretary of state who warned the Nazis in 1933 not to continue assaults against U.S. citizens

2. What place has a recycling program worse than Chicago's?

a. Houston, Texas

b. Hoboken, New Jersey

c. Newark, New Jersey

d. Mars

3. What is StreetWise?

a. Nickname for supercilious brokers who move to the midwest after working on Wall Street

b. Chicago newspaper sold by the homeless

c. New city of Chicago program to raise funds; people pay to name a block after a person of their choice and are guaranteed a year of pothole repairs

d. New designer perfume for the urban woman

4. What is a Salsedo Press?

a. What you use to get salsedo oil

b. The newest attachment to the NordicTrack exercise machine

c. Successor to One Hour Martinizing

d. Worker-owned printing company that throws a fabulous Cinco de Mayo party every Mayo

5. What major victory did "fine arts" radio station WFMT achieve for 1993?

a. The general manager convinced Ray Nordstrand it's OK to use contractions in moderation.

b. Announcers will read commercials instead of playing prerecorded tapes.

c. Announcers made a pact to retire the routines of Severn Darden.

d. Victor Borge's records will be played backwards on The Midnight Special.

6. Which of these alternative venues has not yet died?

a. CrossCurrents

b. No Exit Cafe

c. Link's Hall

d. Amazingrace

7. Define 12-step.

a. A new multiethnic, fractured republic of the former Soviet Union

b. A Cajun dance taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music

c. Expanded stages of reaction to a romantic breakup, based on the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

d. A program for dealing with addictions

a. A cable-TV lingerie shopping channel

b. An independent ward organization in Rogers Park

c. A post-1968 underground Czechoslovakian exile group

d. A support group for aging baby boomers

9. What is ACT UP?

a. What your therapist accuses you of doing

b. Successor to Up With People, for actors instead of singers

c. Militant AIDS-awareness organization that crashes public events in its push for rights, better treatment, more research, and wider availability of medicine for HIV-positive people

d. What Calvin and Hobbes do on a regular basis

e. The opposite of Method acting

10. Studs Terkel is:

a. A dancer who went AWOL from the Chippendales world tour

b. The Pet Rock of the 90s

c. The beloved lefty WFMT talk-show host and prolific chronicler of the common person and issues of class and race

d. A locally owned snow-tire company

e. The patron saint of the tape recorder

11. What's the proper response when someone asks you why people are donating money to Guild Books?

a. "Due to its poor management the store is out of funds."

b. "It's the only way to support a local independent cultural institution in this age of corporate takeovers."

c. "They wanted to give to the New World Resource Center but couldn't figure out when it was open."

d. "Let me get this right--you're saying that people give money to a bookstore and don't get books in return?"

12. What contributions has the Heartland Cafe, the north-side health-food restaurant, made to Chicago's progressive scene?

a. On balmy days it provides outside seating in a protected yellow-jacket habitat.

b. It gave progressives the green light to eat burgers made from formerly endangered animals that appear on old nickels.

c. With their creative head-gear and garments made from third-world textiles, the friendly waitstaff help promote First Amendment fashion rights.

d. Corn-bread squares.

13. What contributions has the Chicago Diner, the Lakeview vegetarian restaurant, made to Chicago's progressive scene?

a. It debunked the myth that vegetarian food must be inexpensive.

b. Its surly waitstaff provides snooty-rich-person's-restaurant atmosphere to otherwise modest surroundings.

c. It's a vegetarian restaurant that's still vegetarian.

d. You build up a terrific appetite as you spend hours trying to find a legal parking spot.

e. Corn-bread triangles.

14. Where would you not see internationally acclaimed blues pianist Erwin Helfer perform?

a. A Nicaragua Solidarity Committee benefit

b. A National Rifle Association benefit

c. A Circle Pines benefit

d. A Center for Neighborhood Technology benefit

e. A Carol Moseley Braun benefit

15. What's wrong with reading a newspaper in a crowded movie theater with the lights on?

a. Nothing, unless the newspaper is a boycotted Tribune.

b. Nothing, unless the lights are boycotted GE bulbs.

c. Nothing, unless it's in a boycotted Cineplex Odeon theater.

d. It would probably annoy your date.

16. What happened to Ken Davis, programming director of National Public Radio affiliate WBEZ?

a. He was fired after he was caught cheating while arm wrestling station manager Carole Nolan.

b. He received an irresistible offer from American Public Radio to host a Silicon Valley-based call-in game show for overqualified hackers called "What Don't Ya Know?"

c. He was accidentally rototilled in a tragic home-gardening accident.

d. When the FCC banned the frequency of David Slavsky's voice, Davis walked out in solidarity.

17. What is the Tower Shower?

a. Where you can go to see WBEZ talk-show hosts pontificate in person once a year

b. The newest invention for cleaning skyscrapers without taking a financial bath

c. What you give a young tower before it goes up in the world

d. Bill Cartwright's personal hygiene device

18. Why did progressive newsweekly In These Times move from Belmont Avenue to Milwaukee Avenue?

a. It was fleeing creditors.

b. It was fleeing its unpaid free-lancers.

c. It was fleeing its unpaid staffers.

d. Wanderlust.

e. It was hoping to pay unpaid staff, free-lancers, and creditors by pawning its old building.

19. What's wrong with this nouvelle fast-food menu: rakishly torn iceberg lettuce salad topped with cinnamon-specked lite mayonnaise, Campbell's tomato soup sprinkled with Nestle's Quik, sauteed Concord grapes, red onions, and fresh mushrooms?

a. There's no meat.

b. Iceberg lettuce has few vitamins compared to deep greens.

c. Tomato soup goes better with solid chocolate.

d. Most of the food listed is or has been the target of boycotts.

20. What's the proper response to Clinton's election?

a. I don't trust him--he's too far left.

b. I don't trust him--he's too far right.

21. What's the proper response to the concept of national health insurance?

a. Say snidely, "Great--just let the U.S. Postal Service handle it in its typically efficient way."

b. Launch into a horror story you heard from a friend the last time you were in Toronto.

c. Say simply: "It's an idea whose time has come."

d. Launch into a diatribe about how the U.S. and South Africa are the only two industrialized nations without it--and the U.S. needs to support its ally.

22. Identify Heather Booth.

a. An aromatherapy administered in a tanning booth that originated in Glasgow; used to treat people with Seasonal Affective Disorder

b. A muted-tone settee on display at a River North gallery and featured in December's Architectural Digest

c. Where celebs are seated at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises' newest theme restaurant, the Tartan Kilt

d. A Chicago activist gone to Washington

23. What is consumption?

a. Your major activity when you're not working

b. Something that's best when it's conspicuous

c. The reason for Chicago magazine's continued existence

d. Old-fashioned name for a disease that has reemerged with a vengeance

24. When women in the Women & Children First bookstore or Mountain Moving Coffeehouse say excitedly that they're going to Michigan this year, what do they mean?

a. They're going to the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn.

b. They're going to the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

c. They're going to homecoming in Ann Arbor.

d. They're going to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, where every August thousands of women flock to enjoy women's music and entertainment, and to check out booths tailored to many proclivities, including those of women in 12-step programs; however, there is no Heather Booth.

For extra credit:

Call up the local offices of the Democratic Socialists of America, National Organization for Women, Socialist Party U.S.A., or Women's Action Coalition and explain to a group member's satisfaction why each of the following words is good, not bad:

a. militant

b. feminist

c. politically correct

d. socialist

e. witch

Correct answers:

1. c. And it's still there, in part at least, overshadowed by the warm and lovely University of Illinois at Chicago campus. d. Maybe. Could be the name of the place where Cordell Hull (he served from 1933 to 1944) was born, but we were too lazy to check.

2. d. Information from Uptown Recycling.

3. b. If you don't know this, take the Walkman earphones out of your ears next time you're downtown.

4. d. Be there. It's the annual mating dance of the left.

5. b. The result of a big struggle, no less.

6. b and c. No Exit moved some time ago, but this venerable, dank folk 'n' poetry coffeehouse still graces Rogers Park. We think it's the only place around named after a Sartre play. Link's Hall has seen changes but is still a hub of political office space and cultural events, especially with the rebirth of its underground twin, Lower Links.

7. d. They're especially rampant in the women's community.

9. c.

10. c and e. Partial credit for b. He may also be the patron saint of Chicago.

11. a. Debatable. b and c. Also acceptable. Give yourself an extra point if you know what the New World Resource Center is.

12. a. Or are those bumblebees? We never stay outside long enough to find out; we prefer the protected leftist habitat inside. Also b, c, and d.

13. a, b, c, and d.

14. b. No kidding. Give yourself a point if you know what Circle Pines is.

15. a, b, and c. Half credit for d.

16. Beats us.

17. a. Held at the top of the John Hancock Center.

18. e. Though you could make an argument for the other answers.

19. d. Though it's hard to keep track. Our favorite reference to this is in John Sayles's short story "At the Anarchists' Convention": "Then Harriet Foote questions the grapes in the fruit cup. The boycott is over, we tell her, grapes are fine. In fact grapes were always fine--it was the labor situation that was no good, not the fruit."

20. b. Was there any doubt?

21. c. Was there any doubt?

22. d. Founding director of the Midwest Academy. Keep an eye on her now that the Dems are back in the saddle.

23. c. And we're not the first or the last to say this. d. Also true, unfortunately.

24. d. We quote from an essay in Queer and Pleasant Danger, Louise Rafkin's new collection of prose: "For a week every August in upstate Michigan, thousands of lesbians gather from all over the globe. Michigan is a plot of 'womyn's land,' sometimes hot and dry, sometimes cold and wet, where dykes come to pitch tents and commune with each other and nature. Michigan means naked nymphs and a return to what many lesbians refer to as 'home.'

"Mark slid his Armani specs low on his nose. Tommy rolled his baby-blue eyes, "You're kidding!'

"I assured them . . . that Michigan was not something I could make up."

Scoring:

One point for each correct answer. Each correct extra-credit definition counts as a right answer. Determine your percentage of right answers--preferably using math, not a calculator. (Give yourself an extra point if you know what a Luddite is.)

30 percent correct or less: Admit it, you voted for Reagan. Twice. And Bush. Twice. (No, really--you didn't vote for Perot, did you? Or the Libertarians? Get rid of those Ayn Rand books immediately.) You're going to have to work hard to get to that hidden inner progressive, but we know s/he's in there. Start by examining the free Reader classifieds for gatherings of groups with the word "solidarity" in them. Attend a benefit or meeting at least once a week. Then get on the Chicago Filmmakers mailing list so you can attend any film about Contragate and government deception. Get on the New World Resource Center mailing list--you'll receive a ten-pound mass of fliers every month and your social calendar will be set. Hurry--now--before the inauguration.

31 to 60 percent: Not bad. Your heart's in the right place, but your designer clothes and that fancy leather briefcase give you away. Work on your affirmations. Go to the Heartland for brunch on Sunday; at the Heartland General Store purchase at least one magazine you've never heard of before and at least one item of clothing from a country you've never been to.

61 to 95 percent: Congratulations. You're politically active but you've managed to strike a balance; in other words, you remember there's a lake out there. If you scored in the high 80s or better you're the perfect person to start organizing a reeducation workshop for those in the above groups, and you've got the connections to get those fliers printed and in the mail, bulk rate. Think of it as missionary work. And did we meet you at the last Cinco de Mayo party? Were you the guy who was eating the last of the bean dip at 3 AM?

Ninety-six to 100 percent: We bet you still know all the verses to "The Internationale." All you talk about is politics, politics, politics. Get a life. Or at least a CD player. And hey, listen to commercial radio once in a while.

And a reminder to all: If you want to join the ACLU call 201-9740 or 800-572-1092.

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