Monday, July 07, 2003

Chicago Beat
I didn't appreciate the local media's breathless coverage of the Lincoln Park porch collapse as much as Steve Rhodes did--I just don't share the media's insatiable appetite for violent death--but I applaud his point that the media over-eulogized the porch victims for being affluent achievers: "Were the tragic dimensions of the Lincoln Park porch collapse enlarged in the eyes of the media because the victims were affluent people from elite schools who appeared to have, by traditional standards, bright futures?" he asks in his column this week. He seems to suggest the answer is yes, and I agree.

An impolite but pertinent question whether such reportedly bright people should have identified the danger of squeezing so many bodies onto such a small porch. The local press has been obsessed with whether porch builders and city inspectors should have been more accountable for the porch's construction and permit, even though there was no indication the porch was unsafe. The press is always looking to beat up on city officials for something--usually for good reason, but sometimes far too eagerly.

- One rule of Chicago sports is that the Cubs and White Sox have a kind of equilibrium--when one has a good year, the other has a bad year. With both in playoff contention at the All-Star Break, the rule is holding true on a month-by-month basis. After the Cubs had a brilliant April and the Sox a stumbling start, now the Sox are going full throttle--having swept the Twins (my wife and I were at Comiskey for the homer-happy series opener) and making two playoff-minded big-name trades--while the Cubs are struggling, having been swept by the Phillies and dropping two of three to the first-place Cardinals. If the Sox can keep it up through the break and the Cubs can find some consistency, it's going to be an interesting August and September on both the North and South sides.

- An important but unexplained clip from the June 20 Chicago Reader:
"The growth in population is outpacing the growth in commuters for the first time in 40 years," reports Siim Soot, coauthor of "Commuting in the Chicago Area," a recent report from the U of I at Chicago's Urban Transportation Center. Between 1970 and 1990 the metropolitan Chicago population increased 4 percent, while the number of commuters increased by over 20 percent. Since 1990 the population has grown 11.4 percent, but the number of commuters has increased by just 6.9 percent."

- Another Reader clip: According to something called the Center for Impact Research, 57 percent of Lawndale adults are incarcerated, on parole, or on probation.

- Despair elsewhere: Just up the lakeshore in my home state of Michigan: the Benton Harbor riots

- Here's a Slate story on "blog maps" in NY and DC--bloggers who organize themselves according to their city's subway maps. Chicago really should have something like that, but I don't know if there are enough local bloggers to pull it off. E-mail me if you're a Chicago blogger who's interested in this.

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