About The Corn Latitudes
Note to first-time visitors: Because of the limitations of the website software I chose to build it with, The Corn Latitudes can be seen properly only on maximized screens of PCs browsed with Chrome, Edge, Opera, or Firefox and on Macs with Safari. Tablets and iPads must be viewed using Chrome or Safari. For the moment, the archives is not readable on smartphones, but then what is?
What is here
The Corn Latitudes is devoted to my Illinois work only, that is, work that I judge worth reading again about Illinois places, people, and issues published in newspapers, magazines, and books from the early 1970s until 2020 or so.
Specifically, the archive contains columns, reviews, and feature articles that appeared from 1975 until 2018 in Illinois Times, the Springfield weekly; the many pieces that appeared from 1978 to 2010 in Illinois Issues magazine (where I was a contributing editor), including important series on water resource issues (1982), soil and farmland conservation (1982), and toxics pollution (1986); features, criticism, and commentary from Chicago's Reader from 1978 to 1998; work about the big city in the 1990s from Chicago Enterprise, Inland Architect, and Chicago Times magazines, reporting about nature and the environment from assorted reports, features, and the newsletter/magazine Nature of Illinois; excerpts and complete texts from a variety of government reports, mainly on energy and environmental topics, and assorted book excerpts, book chapters, and unpublished work that has no other home.
Much here is straight magazine journalism. Most readers will find it appealing not because I wrote it but because the subject matter appeals to them. (As was said about the Reader, if the cover story was about something you found interesting, it was the best paper in the country—that week.) Readers looking for pieces in a more personal style should look for titles published in Illinois Times (especially in the "Prejudices" and "Dyspepsiana" series), the post-1994 Illinois Issues, Chicago Times, and the Reader.
Click The author for my professional
Click Publications for my recollections about the magazines and papers I wrote for; anyone considering writing an informal history of magazine and newspaper publishing in Illinois from 1972 until 2019 is welcome to make use of them.
“The Corn Latitudes” was one of the titles I proposed for my history of mid-Illinois. In the end, that work was published as Corn Kings and One-Horse Thieves, but I decided the phrase suits this website better. In case it comes up, I am aware that the corn latitudes extend well to the east and west of Illinois, but we're talking Illinois longitude here.
What isn't here
The archive is not comprehensive. I will not reproduce here the complete run of my one thousand Illinois Times columns, for example. Not all of them were worth rereading, so only selected columns from the Prejudices series (1978 until 1994) and the Dyspepsiana series (2009–2018) are included. Certain government reports and studies are numbingly technical, most are outdated, and only the good bits of a few of them appear here.
I reluctantly omitted all but a few examples of ephemera and whimsy and other attempts at humor. You’re welcome.
About these versions
There are things in these pieces I wish I hadn’t said, and hundreds of things I’d wish I’d said better but I've resisted the temptation to make myself wiser in retrospect. None of these articles was perfect as published in purely literary terms either, and most of these new versions have been slightly edited to improve their clarity, style, and grammatical consistency. (The exception are the web versions of Illinois Times columns in the "Dyspepsiana" series.) I suppose therefore that these versions should be considered definitive.
While I wish it could be otherwise, none of my magazine pieces and government reports include the many excellent photographs, maps, charts, and other graphics that enhanced them in print form. My apologies to their creators, and to my readers.
I did not attempt to update the facts as presented in the originals. Life is short.
Original subtitles have been omitted from the article links. In their place I have added new descriptive notes to each title to facilitate browsing by readers and other search engines.
How to find stuff
To browse, simply click on any of the topics that appear on the right side of every page. A topic contents page will then magically appear that lists links to individual works on that topic in all genres and from all sources.
To open an individual article, click the title. To close an article page and return to your topics page, use your browser's back button or click again on the topic on the main topics menu.
Articles that touch on more than one topic—many do—are listed under every topic that pertains. For instance, a piece about the Lincoln home in Springfield will be listed under “Lincoln,” “Springfield,” “Illinois history,” and “Travel & tourism.”
I have not found an affordable search app that would enable readers to search the archives by keyword, article title, or date. I've divided the article links on some pages into subtopics to make finding things a little easier, but looking for a particular article in most cases will be like browsing an ill-managed used book shop.
Much else about this iteration of the site is not the way I want it. It is not possible for readers to download a printer-friendly version of any article. (You'll have to cut and paste.) I have not found a reliable “back to top button." Readers will have to scroll back toward the top of each page to return to the main topics menu, and because of the length of some of these pieces, that means a bunch of scrolling. I tried breaking up a few of these long pieces into multipage versions, but it is tedious work and most have not been so presented and probably never will be.
Copyright and the rest
All original material is copyrighted by James Krohe Jr., as are excerpts from Corn Kings & One-Horse Thieves.
Virtually all of the older writing gathered here was published under the copyright protection of the newspaper and magazines in which it appeared. (An exception is work prepared under contract with the State of Illinois, which was in the public domain.) Under the rules that pertained when I started, the oldest of these pieces would be today considered in the public domain by now, even were the initial copyright extended as allowed by the law. As for the copyright status of the more recent of them, who knows? Freelance material has always occupied an ambiguous position under the law. The courts repeatedly ruled that a publisher purchased only first serial rights, after which subsequent rights reverted to the author.
I advise any reader that any use of the material from this archives that is consistent with the mission of the original publisher—which is to say, the dissemination of information and opinion—is not problematic. Read? Sure. Share? Absolutely. Reproduce for informational purposes? Depends on the place and purpose, but in any event, always with credit to the publisher and author. Exploit for private commercial gain? Talk to the original publishers (if you can find them) and not me. And consult your conscience.
The pen-and-ink drawing of the scribe—is he alarmed? befuddled? dreamy?—who appears occasionally throughout the site originally graced the Letters to the Editor column in The Phoenix, one of the alternative newspapers with which I was involved as a young man. (See Publications.) I'm happy to see him again after all these years.
The bug-on-a-twig that adorns these pages is a bit of public-domain art used as an end mark in the early Illinois Times. It was chosen by founding publisher William Friedman, who explains, “I felt it said 'we are buzzing around.'”
Finally, I know what you’re thinking by now. To which I say, if other people my age can spend hours mooning over snapshots of their bratty grandkids, I can do this, okay?
The Corn Latitudes also includes much about my book, Corn Kings & One-Horse Thieves: A Plain-Spoken History of mid-Illinois. For reviews, excerpts, and more about the book, click on Corn Kings here or at the top of any page.
Please note that The Corn Latitudes
is a work in progress, so check back often.
If you would like to see a specific piece that is not yet in the archive, let me know at the address below.