Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
After a half a dozen lines of small talk, the newcomer’s intentions erupted. At what appeared to be an appropriate moment for poor social skills followed the inappropriate appeal to the Samaritan, “Can I borrow your cell phone, again? “No,” said the veteran with the same graceful tone.
The conversation ended, but they remained together. Nine stops later, the respectful thirty-ish veteran disembarked at Granville. The neophyte was now ‘almost’ isolated in the northbound red line train with about four other passengers, who were pre-disposed with their books, newspapers, or other diversions. One of them was me.
I sat in the double seat directly to his north. Hooked up to MobiTV, I struggled to listen to a newscast with a pair of hard plastic ear buds inserted into my ear canals and PDA/cell phone. My three day free introductory subscription had yet to run out. However, the news cast periodically lost its 3G connection and the ear buds failed to find a welcome spot in front of the passages to hearing if not comprehension. When the buds eventually held, I had to remove them. Why?
Well, as we reached Granville and the veteran passenger was history, The stress of driving down LSD is no longer a threat to my piece of mind. However, the conversation or music of another life could easily take hold on the Red line north.
With what I hoped was the last charitable cell phone owner gone, the question breached the silence like digital interference or cell phone tones blasting during your favorite film, lips moved, but I could not hear, so my ear buds were removed. “Do you mind if I use your cell phone?” I looked in disappointment. The rookie was undeterred. Upon answering with my matter of fact reply, he changed seats.
A cute Asian looking woman was now accosted, but she felt obligated. She had not heard all of ‘Garfunkel’s’ previous greatest hits. With that, her cell was exposed and his cell call began. The candid one-sided conversation now began to emit into the atmosphere and pierced the silence with its sounds. He had to leave a message just to let us know that the call was not a lost cause. Perhaps, he had just left voicemail on the Belmont platform, but that message apparently was not recent enough.
What is it about cell phones that make people behave so badly? Why do commuters want other restricted passengers to hear their most personal moments? With the calm that often pervades a CTA “L” ride, why do people persist with communication that can wait until arrival? What is it about “L” etiquette that these cell phone users just don’t get? I understand meeting the friend that you have not seen in a month, but cell phones calls are another story.
These are not the words of prophets. “Fools” said I, you do not know, cell phone use like a cancer grows. Read my words that I might reach you. Pay attention to other commuters so that they may teach you. There is an excellent article in the Red Eye on cell phone etiquette in CTA trains.
Okay, I admit that if my cell goes off, I may answer. However, the first thing out of my mouth is usually, “I am on the train, can I call you back?” Or “Can you call me back in forty-five minutes, I’m on the train?” The phone is next promptly turned off or put on vibrate. I have likened use of cell phones to smoking a cigarette; it is unnecessary noise pollution and being held captive is no “ode to joy!”
It is so simple. Who wants to be bombarded by clients, customers or confidential moments in front of others also restrained in the same public place? Do you think that commuters appreciate being held hostage to a personal soap opera? Yet, it happens too often. Sometimes, the conversations are beyond bizarre and don’t belong in a public place in front of children!
Often, it is clear that those who are calling even instigate the call. They can’t wait until a private moment that can occur by departing to an oncoming platform. How many of us have lip sync-ed the “L” conversations of an unrestrained passenger? Perhaps, we have given that stare of infamy, only to receive less than graceful insensitivity and another ten minute ‘yelping’ of a new episode of ‘Desperate cell phone flies?’
Does anyone recall some of the best or worst experiences? Perhaps we can be amused by or simply discourage use by posting memoires of other subway commuters’ tender, yet public moments. Are there any other abused and/or amused commuters? Okay, I admit that it can be simultaneously hilarious, yet pathetic.
Monday, October 29, 2007
For those who don’t know, Decatur Classical School is the grammar school diamond in the Chicago Public School system. It is located in West Ridge. There is no Illinois grammar school that tests higher in the State, and perhaps, the nation, provided there was a national test. Children test annually for an invitation to get into Decatur Classical. My other child is on test number four. However, the honeymoon ends at sixth grade, where your child gets accepted.
You cannot make educational options an excuse for moving out of Chicago. There may be a classical, gifted, or magnet school willing to eventually let your child attend provided you help educate your child, as well. If there were exceptions made to waive the Decatur Classical entrance test for just one child, journalists would have a field day. Arne Duncan would likely not deserve it, but he would need to put any arguable scandal in order and this could prove fatal.
Now, back to my mantra. . . .Somewhere, some way, I will find another reasonable excuse why my son did not get to baseball, basketball, scouts, soccer, swimming, and etc. on time or at all. As I work into the bitter depths of the evening on laundry, life, and leftovers, the hope is that we will eventually appreciate the effort. Eventually, all of our tweens groans and grunts from the previous evening will be forgotten.
For those of us who understand, we want our child to have the aptitude and grades to convince Dr. Joyce Kenner at Young Academic Center, among others. We know that our children have gone through enough trials and tribulations to justify admission. Decatur kids, as well as their parents, have proctored enough to earn a CPS pension on their educational road to perdition.
I accept that it is a choice to send a child as well as your family through the Decatur Classical experience. However, parents have to also realize that there is no seventh or eighth grade at Decatur, only the academic centers with more testing and the point system to garner possible acceptance. There is also the possibility of new found isolation between former classmates at in one of the gifted or magnet programs. Decatur Classical students are ultimately and unfortunately broken up into a new bundle of adolescents in some other universe of Chicago Public School Academia.
The Francis Parker’s, Latin’s, Roycemore’s and Archdiocese private schools of the Chicago area exist. However, many of us will not look for excuses to spend the last bit of savings before their kid even gets accepted to a University without a full tilt private school scholarship. The options are a new residence or an objective rehash of the teaching staff in all viable alternative options at CPS. Ultimately, only 25 children are admitted in this region of a potential 110 Young Academic Center spots. The statistics for admission to the Academic Center are humbling.
Traditionally, both Skinner and Decatur Classical Schools fed into Young Academic Center. Decatur and Young High School share the same dolphin mascot. However, over time, the demand for the Academic Center exceeded the number of spaces and excessive competition set in. Now, the one thousand point scale scares Decatur parents, who are totally uncomfortable with “grade inflation” at other schools. The Young Academic Center Scale cannot consider grade deflation.
There is no grade inflation, but grade deflation at Decatur Classical of Chicago. At Decatur, I understand that a Decatur grade A ends at 93%, a B ends at 87%, and a C ends at 76%. This means that a Decatur Classical Child who is performing at honor roll level in any other CPS Grammar School is treated as performing lower. This means that the 300 points allotted to grades drops them excessively in contrast to others. Decatur teaches a year above grade level in math texts, among others. Test scores are another story and most are at the 99th percentile in math at a minimum.
This means that even if my child performs at the 99th percentile in ISAT math and the 86th in Reading, they are still subject to denial where grades do not reach a 4.0 g.p.a. at the academic levels set by Decatur Classical. Ultimately, our child gets an excellent education from K to 6th, but what’s next is unknown.
I suppose that this may mentally condition us for the next competition for Northside College Prep spots. It may give our child and us the character to appreciate how to avoid or encounter the next set of point spreads and scales. You begin to feel like ‘Jimmy the Greek’ playing the odds in the CPS Educational System. The Clash lyrics from “Should I Stay or Should I Go” Clash seem to hit your chest like a ‘half ton of bricks,’ while you wait for what seems like Godot for an answer or the next score.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
The Backside of Bakers at Midnight, Imagination, Chicago Magazine Digressions, and Other Distractions
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The dim watt driver who left the bend in your fence long ago has yet to return for a repeat performance. No other uninsured drunk motorist has replicated such impeccably brain dead driving skills at Bell and Touhy. No one has taken much from you, other than pride. The fences condition has reached the neighborhood embarrassment stage, IMHO.
Now is your chance to show that you care. Pay ye olde fence company down the road to eliminate this mess. Okay, I tried! 2118 W. Touhy to do the rest! "Rampart, we have lost the victim's pulse, beginning CPR."
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The nearby Anti-Cruelty Society's edifice just had its late '80s makeover. I knew that going to law school would leave me in the library for indefinite and irregular times. Before you begin school, you read about the horror stories; the first year, they scare you to death, the second, they work you to death, and during the third, they bore you to death. My fiance would be spending some time curled up in front of the tv without me. It begans to become clear that she needed another love interest. I did not want that to be one of my classmates or a co-worker. I put up no resistance and we did time in the feline section.
I had grown up with a Westie and a terrier, but mostly hunting dogs. I witnessed a sixteen year old with drivers permit hit our fleeing 'wired' terrier, Scampy, on a quite suburban street in 1966 after we moved away from our Winchester and Rogers two flat in 1965. This was quite dramatic, since we drove Scampy's remains to the Becker Animal Hospital in Glencoe. Scampy became a disappointing memory after he scampered out of our lives.
The Westie, Mopsy, was eventually given up to an elderly couple, because he repeatedly ran away. He also would not get along with my dad's new hunting dog, Lady. The noble Labrador Retriever was the canine of choice in our family. Most of our dogs spent time in the cornfields in Richmond or Wayne, Illinois. However, the more recent canine editions tended to be less disciplined house sitters. Cats were never considered, because my dad and I had allergies to cat dander. However, I spent time with cats as a kid at a summer camp. I accepted that cat are just as affectionate and loyal as any dog.
We looked around at the walls of cages. All of these forgotten felines lives might be lost. Many of the cats were older. They had names and the sad story that led to their internment. Some of the owners were allergic. Others moved or were too old to take care of them. A few did not get along with other pets. A few probably went to nursing homes. We looked, but these cats weren't ready. Maybe, they would never be ready. We wanted a cat to grow into our family and the cats were both grown and seemed disappointed. We wanted a feisty, yet friendly youthful feline. We wanted spark and that slight smile. We had to look further.
One cage on the back wall housed a flurry of gray and white. Some of the cats drew our attention like a magnet. As we looked, personalities began to unfurl in the muted meows and purrs of another happier and untainted generation. A few were more dominant, some were cute; others had feature that were given priorities. Some seemed loyal to others in the litter. This group became a tribe and we began to experience the legend that was unfolding.
We were not looking for two cats, but there were two in that litter. They got along with each other. One was cute, lovable and snuggled with anyone willing to give it attention. The other wanted attention and consent to climb and explore all limbs and that which the front and back of a shirt had to offer; he was also a licker. There is a moment, when human and pet bond. You don't expect it; it happens. My desire for a dog was lost to kitten hugs and the affectionate rubbing of our chins and necks.
We wanted both. To my wife, they were inseparable bookends. They were nearly identical with subtle differences. Anti-cruelty had a rule; you cannot adopt two cute cuddly kittens, particularly from the same litter. If you adopt two cats, then one must be an adult. The rationale was unappreciated; it made for an uneasy decision and departure.
Adult cats should be cared for. I have always believed that when you adopt a pet, you do it for life. You don't abandon kit when cats get ill. You try not to get sticker shock with the vet bills and negotiate a plan if necessary. You try to make make plans for the unexpected; a cat gives unconditional love, but in exchange, it becomes completely dependent upon you. Plans for perpetual care deserve contemplation and closure. I did not know why the adult cats were abandoned; only what Anti-Cruelty was told. Yet, none of the older cats made it to the level of trust or mutual acceptance.
We committed to the more lively and cuddly one, who licked our ears, but we wrote down the tag number for the cute, naive, sweet one. We made it past the interview, later discussed the situation with my sister in law, and left with a plan. Two days later, Max was adopted by my sister in law, but also entered our lives and joined Elie in our northeast corner unit overlooking Lake Michigan and the Days Inn. The Days Inn is a story in and of itself, but I don't write a blog about Streeterville.
The cats found a way to get attention. They took to the white shutters that opened up from the kitchen. Climbing the shutters became an event during that summer. The dilemma over whether to declaw and neuter was not a controversy. The cats were scratching the new Homemakers sectional, among other items, which were beginning to show wear. Max and Elie ignored the scratching post. We had no intention of letting them out of the condo, but they found a way a few times. Max was more laid back; his secret weapon to sudden surges of energy.
Max and Elie got their names from two sources. In our tradition, we usually give names based upon the memory of a respected relative. Although this is not required for animals and perhaps is arguably sacreligious. Max is the name of my mother's deceased uncle. Max had a noticeable sense of humor, but his wife Edith 'arguably' mistreated him. Some claim that she abused him, but Max was a kind soul and dealt with his 'alpha wife' until he could not take it any more. In fact, Max is the guy in the center of the photograph at the top of the home page. I understand that Max lived in Rogers Park in from the '40s through the 60s.
Max the cat proved that condo associations have a mix of residents with varying peeves. Max loved to unpredictably, but rarely bolt out of the condo and into the hall way. He would run about twenty-five feet, realized that there was no place to go, and rolled over. This happened two or three times in one year. All we had to do was yell "Max" and one of our elderly neighbors let the Condo Association know that menacing gray and white kittens were prowling the halls eager to spray the walls. It was one of the last times that Elie or Max managed to traipse the hallway.
After a year, fears of law school were overcome and we moved to Bowmanville, which gave the cats had more space. Our three bedroom apartment at my in laws two flat gave the cats more room to roam. It also provided more window ledges and animal life to observe. Max had a detante with one of the local squirrels. The squirel would climb within five feet of Max's window and the two would chirp or scowl at each other depending upon their mood until one would relent.
Max was a bitter not a licker. He developed this annoying habit of nipping at your nose or toes at about two in the morning. This eventually stopped because Max prized his bedspace more than his nose or toe fetish. However, it was intermittant and this meant that Elie, who was the licker spent more time at the head of the bed, while Max might get an involuntary push that encouraged him to leave the feet of the bed. The line, Max be a licker, not a bitter was not pursuasive enough. However, Max could hug.
Max's hugs were unconditional, but always arrived when you needed them. All you had to do was pick him up and those two furry white paws wrapped around your neck in unison. The comfort of Max's nuzzling ears and head on your neck could calm anyone. Max was this loving and nurturing being that could always soothe you at the most frustrating moments. The trivial demands of life dissolved and you were left with emotional fulfillment. Max could rest on you chest with the tranquil effect of the most effective breathing exercise ever conjured by any yoga guru.
Max scared us on a few occasions. Once he found nutrition in rubber shower suckers, which afixed to his intestines, blocked his bodily functions, and made him throw up until there was not much left of him. Apparently, a barium milkshake at Dr. Hornings loosened it up and Max began to eat, again. Max also found serenity within the inner depths of an obscure closet. He disappeared for nearly thirty-six hours when the door closed and he remained hidden in the front bedroom. After hours and significant scrutiny of five square blocks of our neigborhood, Max reappeared and became part of the Rabbi's speech at our wedding.
Max's brother, Elie, passed away at the age of thirteen. He fought back diabetes, took insulin shots, but in the end his kidneys became obstructed. One day, he looked like he was having a diabetes type attack. It was at that time that we realized that his urination or lack of it signaled a more serious condition. He stopped eating. Animal 911 in Skokie discovered that his kidneys were obstructed in four or five places. He would have to get dialysis and might live a week with it. Elie passed away five years ago and is buried at the Hinsdale Pet Cemetery in a yet to be marked grave.
Recently, Max was showing signs, but we, again, did not pick up on it. We brought him into Riser Animal Hospital a year ago. Recently he was not getting all the way into the litter box and urinating outside it. We brought him on a Saturday and had testing done. Interestingly, an ultrasound showed no kidney obstruction; I was temporarily relieved. Max had test a year or two earlier, but tests showed nothing. On Sunday Max leaned on the upstairs wall, lost his balance and fell as he headed towards our rooms. Something was not right; I stayed home on Monday, called the vet, and they looked at his Saturday labs. Max had to be brought in.
The vetrinarian decided to run some tests and Max's heart beat was getting more unsteady. He decided to look at his heart on the equipment at Riser. It appeared that Max had three tumors on his heart. The vetrinarian suggested that we try to ease him out of his misery. I was not immediately ready for this, having witnessed Elie's end. Max was a happy cat and this photo was about as blue as he got; it was taken hours before his death.
I have heard quite a bit about those who are committed to dogs, but they often seem totally ignorant and prejudiced when it comes to cats. I was one of them. I know what a cat is capable of. If you choose wisely, you will find a cat worthy of attention and love, even if you put up with the puff ups. However, taking care of cat dander is a committment worth the effort. Responsibility is part of owning up to your pet. Your pet is more than property, it becomes a reflection of what values you encourage.
This took a while to post, because I was trying to figure out how Max fit in the overall scheme of this blog. I also had to locate and scan the older photos. I regret that some Rogers Park bloggers are ignorant that cats are affectionate and loving beings worthy of adoption. I am not one of them. Don't give up on pets just because a condo association won't allow dogs.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Damen and Rogers This Evening: Two Police Cars, a Hispanic in handcuffs, and a Few Gawkers. Any thoughts?
Upon return from Dominicks about a half an hour later, one of the Hispanics was in cuffs at Damen and Rogers. One of the African American twenty-somethings with the Black doo-rag was chatting it up with one of the officers in the car parked in front of Summit. There were about two or three squad cars. Anyone know what happened? Just another drug bust? Reverse buy? Just curious.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I just thought that I'd add a bit of color and diversity. Rogers Park or at least West Rogers Park has some color and diversity. We have seen this visitor, a swallow tail butterfly, among several other varieties. If you plant butterfly friendly flowers and plants, they will come. We are seeing more and more return to our neighborhood.
Our recommendation once you plant the proper perrennials; don't catch or disturb them too much. They are starting to allow us to take close up photos of them. Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security does not deport these colorful visitors.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
My discussion and e-mails with CTA authorities Darud Akbar and Craig Longhini, 'allegedly confirm' that Alderman Joseph Moore must introduce action in City Hall for public toilets. The CTA spokesperson insists that only the Alderman has control. Joe Moore may want to e-mail Akbar at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to verify his role. For those who want a public toilet or porta-potty at the Howard Terminal should continue to e-mail the above or contact Joe Moore's Office at email@example.com to encourage his support of Terminal toilets.
I have heard Cosgrove and Land insist that all of those in need of a toilet should go to the private bathrooms at Dominicks and Marshalls. No one has admitted that those violators who don't care want immediate gratification and are unwilling to walk that far. The Police don't seem to have the manpower or interest to deter the public pissers. However, we have a temporary reprieve and need to do something about it before it returns.
For those who have trudged to the Dominicks, their bathroom is poorly maintained with wet floors and insufficient maintenance much of the time based upon my experience. Marshalls is locked and you must wait for a sales person to key in the code to let patrons in. I am sure that some are told that they do not have a public bathroom, but the Marshall's bathroom is significantly better when it is open. For those who are Bally's members, use your card and you can use their bathroom. However, some of us don't have the luxury or the time to trapse to distant toilets meant for patrons, not commuters.
As discussed, J. C. Decaux is already working with Chicago. With its reputation in public toilets in cities from San Diego to Toronto to Paris, I think that it is time that Chicago reasonably consider its options. Even highways have public rest stops. Terminals deserve toilets.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Instead, we wait patiently for the Chicago Public Library to release free MSI passes, which is the equivalent of Waiting for Godot. Interestingly, there is no reciprocity and City of Chicago residents must pay unreasonably higher fees to use suburban beaches and pools. The suburbs, like Highland Park and Skokie, don’t care about Chicagoans. Those Chicagoans 'who can' travel get slapped by the suburbs for beach, golf and water park fees. Suburbanites and non-residents pay nothing to use our beaches. Some suburbs even have mutual reciprocity. This is sad and a political solution is long over due. We managed to get to use one MSI pass for one trip in the last six years.
The City should work on reciprocity with Museums like the MSI. Requiring non-residents who often have more money to pay a fee that is higher. Residents deserve a $4-5 dollar discount per family member, when the fee is more than $10 per person. When we use the Highland Park, Schaumburg, and Skokie pools, we never get reciprocity (like some cities) and must pay significantly more to use those beaches, greens, and pools. We hope that our Alderman looks into this situation, so I am cc-ing Joseph Moore the information.
We used to be MSI members, but avoid it for several reasons. First, the cost went astronomical for a Family membership. Now, residents have to pay the same as non-residents for membership. Second, we lost free parking rights in many of the memberships categories. Third, we don't go that often, anymore. Fourth, we remain disgusted with how Chicagoans are treated by MSI, when contrasted with comparable “resident fee” charges for membership or use of museums in other major Cities and the suburbs. Perhaps, the difference might come with contributions at fundraisers!
Furthermore, If your local Chicago Public Library runs out of passes, as most do, then you have to run around the Library System looking for a pass. This can prove futile since many are unavailable, lost, or always out. If you find a pass, then you must return to a Branch like Austin to return them. We live in Rogers Park. There are NO MSI Passes.
We will pay for limited exhibits, but how can Chicagoans pay for it if cannot get in the door at reasonable fee. Chicago residents would if they could, but many can't or are disappointed so they don't. We feel like the suburbanites run the museums. Perhaps, if you treated Chicagoans with more respect, they would show up to the MSI and volunteer more, as well. The current fee structure is a great disappointment.
Sincerely and Regrettably,
Friday, July 20, 2007
Beat 2424 CAPs Meeting
July 26 at 7:00 pm
Pottawattomie Park Fieldhouse
7340 N. Rogers
Murder of Evanston Resident at 2300 W. Jarvis - Any developments
Gooning and trespassing unanswered in spite of e-mail in early June. Inattentive Officer on cell phone.
better liaison for oversights and misunderstandings since OPS does not work
speeding down Ridge over the 25 mph limit
Loitering and concerns at J&K Rogers Pantry
DUIs and the dumpster crasher at Rogers and Touhy fork. Any way to better protect bldg at Touhy and Ridge?
Drinking and trashing of Pottawotomie Park on weekends; any options?
Any other concerns? Post before Thursday!
Anyone want to hit the Lamp Post afterward?
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The new particle board panels obstruct the view into the world of the decrepid office space at 7308 N. Rogers. However, this rehab/teardown still lives and empty Malt liquor and Budweisser cans enhance the weeded landscaping job. What will it take to create some accountability or attention? I admit that the Jay Medicar Garage just west of Damen is not much of a view, either.
I wonder whether the landlord would allow this to happen in his neighborhood? Would his neighborhood, perhaps in the suburbs, launch a lawsuit to enjoin what they consider a nuisance? Would the Chancery Court in the Daley Center consider the complaint and enjoin? Does the city have an interest in the indoor property or care? I hope that the landlord begins to care. Does the landlord really want to rent the space or are they landbanking for an unreasonable buyer to pay more than its market value?
How much longer will it take for this building to be rehabilitated or removed? The next door neighbors probably wonder? What does it look like next door? Here is a photo to show the contrast. This is a photo from where the razed Chinese Buffet once had its parking lot. As some of us know, the restaurant owner's son was unable to attract enough customers, so the property is now a series of townhomes, photographed below.
Does the landlord at 7308 N. Rogers live in some posh corner of the universe near Ravinia Park or the Wilmette Lakefront? What would this landlord think if someone allowed a home or commercial property near their residence to remain in this pathetic condition for an extended period of time? Do they have any sense of the effect that they may have on the people who comment as they drive or walk past 7308 N. Rogers? There is likely brick or some sort of tile under the warped wood paneling begging to be pulled off the exterior and cleaned up. This paint and particle board job looks like a reaction to a city warning.
The nearby graffiti can be removed with a little elbow grease. The boarded up windows have been the victim of layers of paint, so what is another coat of paint or a call to Graffiti busters? The challenge is likely a combination of the landlord and some tagger. Many of us in the neighborhood will clean up our property, perhaps clean up others property, as well. Yet, we appreciate that there is an inconsistent mix of landlords, some more vigiliant than others, some of whom troll lower than others for tenants who really don't care.
The city claims that it needs money, yet it refuses to work with or fine those who create and tolerate blight in the community and violate the law, perhaps unintentionally, as stated. Why ignore blight? Why not come up with reasonable ways to stop vandalism and indifference? How? Well, the city has video cameras, so it becomes a battle over vandalism versus privacy, among other things.
How can the city and its neighbors handle their challenged kid or neighbor's kid when they believe that they are tagging the neighborhood? How can we spend that extra hour setting an example for others? How can we change our surroundings and the attitudes around us. Property values will not spiral upward simply because a few people care. The grass will always seem greener in some other pasture and those who don't know the potential of Rogers Park will graze elsewhere.
Some of my neighbors have pointed out that some of our Alderman's better supporters rent property and live outside the neighborhood. We also know that some of his better supporters are union members who have chosen 'not to live' in the 49th Ward, but like to influence it. If the SEIU has members who can make a difference, then I can only hope that they make their presence known, not simply by trying to pursuade us to vote one way or another.
Friday, June 29, 2007
If there is no ordinance defining commercial blight, then Chicago Aldermen should enact one. If violations persist, then Aldermen are obligated to better manage and work with city services to overcome neglect. They can encourage citations to eliminate these neighborhood challenges. Alderman Moore can encourage Ward groups to embarrass landlords. He can issue PSAs to try to ‘bring in’ the media. Eventually, the Law Department can condemn and encourage eminent domain and forfeiture against reckless or negligent land owners. After years in office, both Aldermen Moore and Stone should act together to condemn a land trust; they can overcome commercial urban blight like that at Damen and Rogers. Chicago has a Law Department and Moore once worked in it.
Faded pepto bismol pink paneling hangs precariously from loosening screws. The decaying wood façade with jutting a la carte nails remain despite the Jamaican restaurant’s demise nearly two decades ago. BTU is knotted and hanging between warped and inoperable water stained wooden shutters and rotting window panes. White paint flakes detach into the wind. Pedestrians pass within inches of the edifice on the adjoining sidewalk. Someone recently dumped a computer desk on the weed infested squares that surround the rotting facade. The pink walls are occasionally touched up with ‘Graffiti buster white’ square accents.
The telephone number 773-851-4365 glares at the street as if to taunt neighbors to complain. This is a disconnected Nextel number. Another exchange, 773-539-4287, claims to be the number of the management company that orchestrates this opus of urban blight. The phone number rings, but there is no voice mail to leave a message. The management and owner seem to have little interest in seriously attracting long or short term tenants.
I believe that there is a mentality in the 49th Ward Offices that forces residents to endure real estate blight and mismanagement. We are now in our third year of numerous complaints; Alderman Moore’s staff continues to provide ‘lip service’ and vague claims of action through Cosgrove, Land, and Company. This dilapidated store front at Damen and Rogers remains in my neighborhood along with the Pulse ER and van Storage facility just west. 7308 is just one example of horrendously unmaintained real estate that is tolerated by Alderman Moore, City Services and questionable political and union leadership. Yes, civil servants are unionized, but should do their jobs out of committment, not because a union steward told them so.
Some of us get reasonably upset at inattentive civil servants and politicians, when we live in neglected neighborhoods. Those landlords who are responsible cannot remain ‘bulletproof’ from municipal prosecution and condemnation. A local bar called “The Ho” graces the east end of the Damen/Rogers strip. The bar is barely a quarter block from the Pottawatomie Park Playground. The bar’s next door Laundromat hosts dim flickering fluorescent lighting and a dank atmosphere to encourage laundry day procrastination. Of course, the rest of the strip is vacant other than Summit Grocery Store which features cigarettes and lotto tickets. What appears to be a struggling Jamaican diner is just north on Damen. Yet, even that storefront has been the host to many unsuccessful restaurants in need of an anchor business.
We don’t need ‘blue lights,’ we need someone who cares whether it is our alderman or a landlord it makes no difference. Alderman Moore may have ‘cared,’ but he seems more interested in promoting McDonalds or Starbucks. Of course, he has attacked geese husbandry and big retailers that flourish outside Chicago, but ignores the calling to revive neglected 49th Ward neighborhoods.
Rogers Park land banking and arguably predatory businesses are often undertaken by those with little personal stake in a ward. The owners, often suburbanites, ask for unreasonable rent, interest, or retail prices, which causes Class D properties to further decay. He, perhaps she, may let this commercial property at Damen and Rogers further disintegrate. The now polluted, but once distinct art deco store front has an artificial seediness that distracts and depresses ward locals.
Summit Grocery deserves a better home, but its landlord has little interest in cleaning off the peeling Jamaican National Crest that crowns its store front. Rather than encourage the tenant to comment about the inconsiderate landlord, effective pressure from City Services seems conspicuous by its absence. The City is without an reasonable agenda to eliminate urban blight or encourage whistle blowers. I await Alderman Moore’s campaign posters ‘wheat pasted’ onto the fading pink paneled wall during the next run off. Perhaps, the unnamed owner has already made a Moore campaign contribution.
This cityscape does not foster a feeling of safety among those who visit or pass by. You have to live in the area and think that you know Rogers and Damen like the back of your hand to spend evenings on these sidewalks. They say that if you act like you belong and ignore those you do not know, people leave you alone. However, if you walk like you just entered the Green Zone in Baghdad, then you invite curiosity, anywhere, and look like you belong in the suburbs. I see people pass this place in suits, which seems out of place, to some, but they live in the area, as well. When a commercial nuisance is this ‘out of place,’ it raises attention and scorn towards those elected officials that we end up supporting with taxes and votes.
Yet, if commercial property is neglected in Rogers Park, people shop elsewhere, which included the nearby Evanston Target. If Moore was so concerned about the Targets, Walmarts, and Sam’s in Evanston and Niles, then he would create enterprise zones and ensure that these zones were reasonably developed with businesses that neighbors will use. Moore seems to coddle those who prefer to pay into his campaign, even outsiders. Maybe, he believes that the locals fear a new alderman more than their inattentive incumbent. Moore, do your job, so that we can appreciate why you should to be our Alderman. Otherwise, go back to private practice, because your advocacy and legal prowess is not working with us.
Again, Alderman Moore et. al., if you really care about making life better for those in the forty-ninth ward, then start with those things that you can control, rather than being controlled by those things that are out of control. There is no excuse for inaction over long periods of time. There is no need to get upset with your neighbors and ignore them. As it is said, think globally, act locally.