The City File | City File | Chicago Reader

The City File 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Gobbling gobblers is OK, according to Greenkeeping (November/ December): "Of all the meat and poultry choices, turkey is among those that are most free from pesticide residues...not totally pure but much less contaminated than fatty foods such as beef steak and hot dogs."

"If you want to visit Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in Southern Illinois, you'd better hurry," according to Notes From Illinois Stewardship Alliance (Autumn). "If Zeigler Coal Co. has its way, the Park will soon be under Rend Lake." The company has proposed to mine 9,000 acres using "planned subsidence"--the ground would settle up to five feet--which would endanger the park and more than 200 homes. "Also within the planned subsidence areas are portions of Interstate 57 and two state highways, public water lines, a golf course, and numerous businesses."

The biggest gentrifying area in the city during the 1980s--where property values rose by 150 percent or more, $40,000 or more in absolute terms--is "a broad belt on the North Side from Lake Street to Lawrence, filling virtually every [census] tract between the already affluent lakefront neighborhoods and Western Avenue," reports Ed Zotti in Chicago Enterprise (December). "The rapidly appreciating district comprised more than 14,000 owner-occupied homes and had a population of 137,000. There were no signs of the displacement that supposedly accompanies gentrification; on the contrary, during the decade, the number of whites dropped, from 68 to 62 percent, while the number of blacks, Asians and Hispanics rose."

Bad news: the "folk" no longer practice "folk art." That's what Gretchen Ziegenhals found when she spent a weekend with the northern Indiana Amish (The Christian Century, August 21-28) and tried to sleep under a "very ugly, 100-percent polyester scrap quilt....The quilts most coveted by collectors are almost always the pre-1940 wool or cotton examples. To the tourist, the art historian, the museum curator, the church historian and me, the quilts symbolize the mystery and power of Amish life. For the Amish, despite their skill and artistry, they remain a patchwork of scraps to cover a bed. Most Amishwomen now make their quilts out of scraps from the wash-and-wear polyester shirts and dresses of the practical Amish farm households. This fabric lacks both the sheen of the earlier cotton quilts and the texture of the woolen ones. No suburban quilt collector would hang these quilts on her wall and proclaim them folk art. Yet they represent Amish values of economy and frugality."

Recent history in capsule form, from U. of C. economist Michael L. Mussa in the University of Chicago Record (November 21): "When the University of Chicago was founded a century ago, government budgets in the most advanced countries amounted to roughly 10 percent of national product, with the United States at the low end of the spectrum. Today, in the advanced industrial democracies, government budgets generally constitute about 40 percent of national product, again with the United States at the lower end of the spectrum. Arguably, economic performance might be enhanced if the scope of government activity were somewhat reduced. However, given the spectacular record of postwar economic growth in the advanced industrial democracies, and given the consistent electoral support for substantial-size government, it would be unscientific, churlish, and perhaps even fattening to suggest that a return to minimal government would pass the 'market test' of free and fair elections....At the other extreme, the case for maximal state involvement in economic affairs has suffered catastrophic damage....The fundamental tenets of statist economics are as dead as the Russian monk Rasputin--whom you may recall was poisoned, strangled, stabbed, shot, cut into pieces, burned to ashes, and fired through a cannon."

Endangered species underneath a Lake Calumet airport? Who cares? Bill Sampson, president of Chicago United for Lake Calumet, says that if the third airport is built on south-suburban farmland instead of at waterfowl-rich Lake Calumet "You're going to have to eat those birds. If you keep using up that farmland, there's not going to be that much for you to eat. So I hope you're happy eating those birds."

"Do you have a credo that shapes how you play the blues?" Lawrence Bommer asks Jimmy Tillman, musical director of the Black Ensemble Theatre, in Stagebill (November). Tillman's answer: "It's what I tell the musicians I work with: Play as if you could die right after the show--so you'd never have a last regret." Happy New Year.

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

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Harold Henderson

  • The Recyclable House

    The Recyclable House

    If Ken Ortiz has his way, no one in Chicago will ever simply "demolish" a building again.
    • Jul 24, 2008
  • Sympathy for the Devil?

    Sympathy for the Devil?

    Progressive scribe Rick Perlstein made his reputation finding the good in conservatives. Then they really started screwing up the country.
    • Jan 24, 2008
  • Dynamic Flash for Democrats

    Dynamic Flash for Democrats

    Wanna raise funds to run for office? Nag Schwarzenegger about health care? Or just make fun of Bush? Call Articulated Man.
    • Jan 10, 2008
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Love and Information Trap Door Theatre
September 12
Music
Rahim AlHaj & Sahba Motallebi Szold Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music
October 19

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories