Monday, June 23, 2008

For all Our Belly Aching, We Don’t Live in Cedar Rapids’ Squalor

With all the sympathy in the world for China and Iowa, among other losses, I accept that there are a few residents extremely eager to live in a ‘sanitized version’ of an urban Kenilworth.
I applaud these visionaries for their high hopes, but Chicago's Urban life in Rogers Park brings a few challenges with no natural disasters thus far. We live in a diverse world full of information and ignorance. We live in a community of bliss and brilliance, but unclear priorities. We want peace without disrespect or hatred. We dislike certain things; we have every right to express ourselves. Some work to improve their conditions more than others. Vigiliance is not a bad trait. Frankly, suburban existence thrives on its closed doors at times; significant thefts don't always make the blotter.

Whether we consider Alderman Joe Moore, some wannabe gangster, or a local blogger like myself, we all look for attention to our concerns and local pet peeves. A few are unable to locate that missing link for a reasonable and responsible outcome. Trying to seek that ‘holy grail’ is sometimes a futile crusade; it is a humorous exercise not limited to the cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

I just could not ignore page 3 of the Chicago Tribune from Sunday. We have our challenges in RP. However, they don’t come in the form of the rising river banks courtesy of Mother Nature. Those entities unknown to date but arguable called “freaks of nature” seem to only come from that lakefront phenomenon known as a ciche [okay, I don't have the time to figure out how to spell the Lake Michigan equivalent of an unexpected swell].

Instead, we have a few irresponsible residents. Some, we hope will wake up and sell Taiwan Li Shan or another legal substance on eBay instead of a controlled substance like Thai Stick in the Jonquil Jungle. BTW, Li Shan Oolong tea sells for an average of $190 a pound on the market. You can find reasonable quality Li Shan for $138 plus shipping from eBay. However, until demand reaches reasonable proportions, this tea will be overlooked by all except the most die hard tea aficionados. I guess that those who want to avoid reality, rather than face it, are willing to more easily part with their money.

Yet, so few spend the time to look at lawful options to make serious money. There is broker churning, insider trading or mortgage fraud, among other diversions. There are those who simply give up instead of putting in hard time, outside of incarceration or a questionable reputation, to learn or point out the attraction that brings respect in any trade.
A few of the optimists still dwell with a realistic and objective appreciation of our surroundings. There is the school of hard knocks and the school of fast knocks, when you seek or market goods. Fast knocks don’t always come from Chicago’s finest these days, so why waste the effort and your days on Earth.

FWIW, there are too few looking at how to wake up the minds of those with little. How do we ease the access and use of education, information, markets, social services and trades. This seems like the wisest means to raise the quality of living in Rogers Park and the residents who live here.

In the restaurant trade, it comes with attentive service and good human relations. If you are a bus boy or a waitress, you ‘kibitz’ and console while serving bisquits and tea, when the chef is inefficient, slow or having a tough day. You don’t sit in the corner and complain about the guests.

In the construction trade, if you don’t have the materials and tools, you work with what you have. You make room for those things that you will have to do in the future. I am sure that have shortened the long list on this one. Logistical challenges are overcome without giving yourself and others headaches during oversight in the project. Project managers depend upon others, as well. Contingencies are worth attention.

Finding reasonable labor in a closed shop city is possible, but takes a little more time and effort. However, there will be those who are too cheap, shrewd, or looking to keep the bottom line too low. This makes Chicago’s challenges that much more realistic. For those moments, we really depend in some trust, not necessarily the local inspectors who seem overwhelmed. A few are willing to use limited discretion and fear losing their jobs or stifling development. We can only hope the Alderman does not ignore tradesmen, while kissing up to them. How many contractors in Chicago 'reasonably rely' upon the local IBEW or the Plumbing Council? How many neighbors have bothered to inquire to find out how much it really costs for a journeymen, among others, to do the job? How many of us have ever tried to reasonably get a job with a union in the last year?

Life takes time and effort. If you get cash handed in your lap, then 'chances are' it is going to disappear with interest and anxiety without the hard work to retain it.

Why is there poverty? Where can G-d or anyone begin! There is no exact answer to everyone’s excuse or actual priorities. Ignorance of people’s actual priorities, the desire to make a fast buck without the communications skills/wisdom, and all sorts of other intangibles are sometimes the function of chance and planning. Some just want to sit around and drink a beer off of another’s earnings. C’est le Vie! However, there is some bias so let's face it. We can ill affort to incorporate bigotry in our day job or our lives. We are a nation of minorities, who need to find strength in our similarities and differences.

No one is going to end all of the ignorance in the world by eliminating those that refuse or unable to listen. Finding the right flavored carrot to get them to eat is not a task left to the social scientists. Only those who yearn for affluence enough that they can taste it will take that road. Few want to spend ten years away from the community for the seeking the wrong product to sell. However, ignorance is bliss, until your dead or dumbfounded, along with your family.

Frankly, some people don’t want all of that money and just don’t care. They just want enough, but the economy keeps moving in a direction. It forces us to re-evaluate where to go next. Sometimes 'just enough' never seems like enough. That is, until you wake up and look at where you are now compared to where you were five years ago. Sometimes, success look evasive based upon our state of mind.

Live from Rogers Park, Photo from Yesterday's Hail Storm

I got these photos on a neighborhood driveway. Just in case Obama's looking:

Hail for the Chief.

Pun intended.

That was one long outpouring of Hail last night. Remember, you didn't read about it in the Trib, but other RP Bloggers have yet to show you this full color extravaganza or even comment on possible damage. I guess there was none other than the rat fatality. How lucky!

Flowers for Algernon

Just an update. It seems like our weak link took a dive into eternity. Not a 'smooth move' heading out into the afternoon during a hail storm. Shame on you! Well, it was a disappointment, yet fulfillment to see this one leave us.
Rats have been domesticated. Now, pet stores carry rats in a variety of colors with the warning that their teeth either need to be filed/fixed or rats will naturally kill themselves, perhaps. Whether this is true or just a repressed memory is another story. When you see a helpless rat and have been to the pet store to see the caged wonders, you may get a warped sense of regret in these situations.
It seems like the outdoor variety do not think much of our electric rat trap or its peanut butter filling. Perhaps, the voltage is not strong enough to make a difference.
Well this one was a gimme for all of the hail damage to the lillies. Now, my wife will no longer let out a shriek over this little guy, again.

Dog Darts

The bad news is that it has happened to me before. The good news is that it did not happen. I was mentally prepared to deal with an experience last witnessed in 1966. What do you do when the leash clasp opens and the dog darts? In Chicago, perhaps, you pray depending upon the dog.

Our dog is not the most brain rich puppy. She is a small loud mongrel with reckless abandon, whose baby teeth are falling out. She is in her golden year. She barks as if she could attack the largest dog or living thing on earth. If challenged or wants the territory, she may bite. She rarely does so, but I have no doubt what could happen in a pinch. However, she does have her rabies shots even if it wouldn’t look pretty; she is no pitbull.

I don’t want to discuss the chewing issue. Our cat hisses at this cute irresistable ball of curly hair, which licks with reckless abandon at times. This dog is a lick machine and in her drive soothes emotions.

The puppy’s living quarters will not be described in depth. What can be said is that in the two moments that the pooch’s collar has separated from her leash clasp, shrieks of the puppies name have been heard for blocks.

What do you do when what seems like an un-trainable terrier takes off? Think about what was done and don’t do it, again seems appropriate. We have already had an experience with the retractable leash. Before today, I was the last dog walker who watched the leash fail or the dog dart south. Our ‘nine pounder’ took off with the speed of an alien mistakenly freed by the DHS.

D took off with reckless abandon or perhaps to freak out the family with her cunning stupidity. She headed south toward what for us seems like a major traffic artery in Beat 2424. I feared a looney tunes scene setting in only this could be a final episode. I could hear her name being called. I felt mentally ready to hear screeches, screaming and possibly bent metal. Would man’s machines try to compete to simultaneously move and stop in both careless and careful efforts at automobile prowess?

Somewhere, during that period, I had time to put on my shorts, return, and view the nine pound menace in the control of a hopefully more sensitive dog owner. I handed my wife the cheap neon blue canvas/nylon leash with the look of I’ve been there, done that. It was accepted.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How About that Hail? Dog doo is rat food. Sympathy for Algernon.

Well, am I the only local who decided to comment on the fifteen minutes that turned our airconditioners and car exteriors into out of tune xylophones and bucket drummers?
A few of our lilies were damaged. One other 'possible fatality' is the damn rat that Streets and Sanitation could not kill. They tell me that the dumpsters in back of 7239 W. Ridge are encouraging the night rats and rat holes. However, we have a weak rat that comes out during the day. The rat has become a bit of a simultaneous amusement and nuisance. He doesn't seem to go for the peanut butter in our electric rat trap. I think that he just shows up every once in a while to upset my wife.
This is the first time in ten years that we have seen a rat. With the additional dogs and dog poop, combined with the tendency for some not to clean up after themselves. Well, our local rats have found the "abundanza platter" rather tasty. The McDonalds and White Castle leftovers must be appealing appetizers, as well.
The reason for the dog poop bag ordinance is to deter rat infestation. For those who won't pick up, the rats will pick up and swallow it for you. Most girlfriends don't find a rising local rat population an amusing backyard attraction.
Yet, during one of our rats self appointed missions to hang out in our backyard this afternoon, he was inundated by the round icy things. For some reason, my wife wanted me to take a look at the gangway to see her newest change and who did I find? Our local perpetual afternoon rat visitor, Algernon Junior, on his back; dazed and confused. This was the first time I saw him, but my wife mentioned Algernon Junior about two weeks ago.
This rat was looking up at my eyes giving me the slow motion Stevie Wonder head sway. It was weird. I'll check in the morning to see if Algernon awoke and took off after his coma like stare. When you see a helpless rodent like that, you begin to feel a bit awkward. However, I didn't have the baseball bat with me for that unconscious swing of fate, so I left it, alone.
I don't recall this ever happening in the last ten years. Hail and amusing rat stories. I don't know if you will ever get this on the Broken Heart. If the rat is still around, I will pull out the Coolpix for a Nikon moment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sorry Sonny, No Money - Lotto Takes Hold - That is What Two Tickets Will Take!

For all the false promises given, Illinois Instant Lottery takes from the poor and feeds the politicians or so it seems. The program started with the promise of funding education. Now, it seems to bask in the misfortune of the less educated. That is, those who forget the odds. Instant Lottery is a means for the Government to take from the poor.
It does not feed them, it fools them. It gives them an empty feeling of loss once the wax is removed and the numbers revealed.
Is it Neon 9s all the time? Or is it Sunny Money, lost my honey, here's a dollar keep me in squalor! Where do we go, what do we do? Is this a state of promise of state of take? What little is there seems to sprinkle its fragments onto the grass. The frustrated may dream of the money that they probably won't take from the State of Illinois Lottery, which is likely outsourced to some other concern. Of course, the other concern may be some allegedly minority run business, which is really not minority run, perhaps.
How do you "win up to 6 times," when you usually lose once! The Illinois Lottery is about as good as a licensed punch card scheme. The most that can be won is $999, but only if the winning tickets are sold. The Lottery takes from the people who can least afford to lose it. Yet, our Legislators have looked the other way!
In fact, Illinois LINK cards have made the sort of spending many of us consider discretionary, an unregulated public disgrace in my opinion. How many of us have witnessed a cashier or small grocer look at a sale and ignore the consequences for the sake of the almighty dollar? We wonder, when will the audit come? Does it ever come?
"Get two like amounts, win that amount." "Get a Sun symbol and win [a whopping] $25 dollars [off dear Uncle Rod!]" Well, the two tickets deposited on my neighbors lawn were losers and so was the litter pig who dropped them.
I see folks lean up against Summit Grocery's wall just scratching off the wax. It doesn't take long before the five to ten dollars in tickets reveal nothing other than wax shavings and unmatching numbers. Will the tickets make it into the garbage? What are those odds? It seems like the player sport poor habits is in need of gamblers anonymous, perhaps?
These two tickets disrespected a neighbor, created blight, and stole hope from someone who probably could least afford it. I think that I'd rather buy a ticket on the next PACE Bus heading west to a job interview or some CPS GED course at Truman College. Two dollars can buy two thirds of a Lean Cuisine Dinner on Sale at Dominicks. Two Instant Lotto tickets are rarely worth the two dollars. Is the suspense of losing it worth the time it takes to work for it? What is indignity for two dollars? That is what two Lotto tickets will take. That is one neighborhood Jeopardy!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Howard Street Terminal Opens New Entrance 6/9/08 - A Few Photos for those who Ignore it

I ride the Red and Purple on a near daily basis. I also park in the lot. Other than a connecting door to the Standard lot, the Terminal entrance makes using the platform a much more efficient and serene experience.

I don't have any fond memories of the fiberglass awnings that graced the Howard Terminal in the nineties. The holes not only leaked water, but pigeon droppings, as well. The area has changed quite a bit. It is not the unfriendly confine that it once was. One situation taken out of context was the temporary closing of Duncan Donuts during construction. One person suggested in a video that Duncan was closed for good. A quick review at that time confirmed that this was incorrect. Of course, history has confirmed it. Nevertheless, Quizno's stayed open for the duration.
For those who are curious, the Chinese restaurant was supposed to go through a remodelling, but my discussions with the former owners suggested that he was not fond of union labor. This was an unwise preference in a 'closed shop' Chicago. I will never know whether his plans for a non-union remodeling or a decision to simply move were the basis of China Lite's departure.
My current Howard Terminal concerns; still (1) no concessions for bathrooms and (2) an insecure bike area without racks or real supervision to date. When push comes to shove, I hope to see ongoing improvements. The north end of the terminal is the next part of the rehab project from what I recall from the plans.
That section is supposed to look more like the historic Howard Terminal.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Heartland Human Care Services - Gassman's Tenant

The Gassman wants to know what you think about his new Tenant, which is some sort of rehab center likely geared to pay his $3.5 million mortgage/refi on 1149 W. Lunt. Upset? Offended? Disenchanted? Let the guy know, even if it is an excuse to vent. Consider legal options to abate this alleged nuisance. Gassman has invited anyone with a beef to this address for his meeting.

Maybe someone should invite the police in case they have concerns.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stoner's Set up House at Gassman's Lakeside Resort - 6979 N. Sheridan - The Gassman Beatle's Parody

It seems like its time to take Craig's List at the Hellhole to task, observe 6981, and make a massive call- in to 311 after a careful once over.

Perhaps, the Mayor's Office, as well, since Daley tends to have little affection for Joe these days. The issue is whether Gassman allowed an unregistered business that allegedly monitors former addicts to take over part of a private apartment building without complying with City, Federal, and/or Illinois law. However, if this does not work, then an lawsuit in chancery to abate the nuisance can be filed against the Land Trust created by 6981 N. Sheridan, Inc. which is held in Trust by First Midwest Bank. David Gassman is the President of 6981 N. Sheridan, Inc., which controls the interest.

Nuisance lawsuits work, where there is a Plaintiff, who can show "actual damage" to the Plaintiff and others by Gassman's neglect. A Plaintiff must file an injunction against Gassman's alleged Trust. Otherwise, he can continue to let the place decay unless the City actually cites and eventually condemns the property. Of course, you can argue that damages to Rogers Park in the form of a dip in property value may exceed the value of the property in order to forfeit it as part of the damages, perhaps.

In addition, you can sue for damages, but you have to prove damages by a preponderance of the evidence. The best thing to do is to call in a jury. Once the litigation starts, and the white shoe law firm uses up Gassman's retainer, the other shoe begins to drop. If the case is dismissed, then it can often be appealed in good faith.

Gassman and his arguable interlocking directorates and holding companies have "deep pockets." However, he may have taken out loans against the properties, with what 'may' be an appraisal "made according to instructions" for use by Citibank, among others, from my unique vantage point. This may get verified in discovery. If he doesn't start spending on the property to rehabilitate, then he may have to start spending with the bar and it won't be Spin, either, just arguably provable fact. Sometimes, the community has to consider who is around and what can be done about it.

To Recap, here are the addresses, the information, and the alleged slumlord:

6979 N. Sheridan

AKA 1149-1155 W Lunt

AKA 6971-6981 N SHERIDAN, PIN 11-32-200-001

Owner: 6981 N. Sheridan, Inc. President: David Gassman

840 Heather Lane, Deerfield, IL

Tel: 773-327-7711 (Spin Nightclub)

Maybe, if Alderman Moore is reading he might rethink about who his friends are and whether they even give a crap about Rogers Park! When an Alderman claims that he is fighting slumlords, only to let one waltz right in and subsidize the Moore war chest, then his days should be numbered. Moore should have learned from former Alderman Eisendrath's decision; move up or out. I hope that Evanston and Jan Schakowsky really pay attention to the politicians that may 'come a courting.'

So when will Moore begin to genuinely care for Rogers Park and not people like the Gassman? News at 10? Or have they forgotten about us as well? Hopefully, Gassman puts some money into renovating 6981 North, rather than sitting on it. Frankly, I could see a really good parody of the Taxman by the Beatles coming out of this one!

The Gassman

[An Ode to a Publicly Declared and Arguably Unregulated Repetitive Contributor of Alderman Joseph Moore]

Let me tell you how it will be,
There’s one for Moore, nineteen for me,

‘Cos I’m the Gassman,
Yeah, I’m the Gassman.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.

‘Cos I’m the Gassman,Yeah yeah,
I’m the Gassman.

(If you drive a car car), I’ll slime your street,
(If you try to sit sit), I’ll invite drug addicts to piss on the seats,
(If you get too cold cold), I’ll turn off the heat,
(If you take a walk walk), I’ll summon rats to bite your feet.

I’m the Gassman,
Yeah, I’m the Gassman.

Don’t ask me what I want it for(Ah Ah! Alderman Moore!)
Unless you want to smell some more (Ah Ah! Mister Gerhardt!),

‘Cos I’m the Gassman,
Yeeeah, I’m the Gassman.

Now my advice for those who die, (Gassman!)
Put up with my blight upon your eyes, (Gassman!)

‘Cos I’m the Gassman,
Yeah, I’m the Gassman.

And you’re putting up with no-one but me,(Gassman).

I wonder if Moore will continue to accept Gassman's money? In my humble opinion, we seem to live in a world of Rezko's just yearning for Federal Attention.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Howard Street Terminal - New Entrance Opens on June 9, 2008

This is the moment that terminal riders have been waiting for. The possibility of riding escalators less likely to reek. Yes, after years of seeing the blue prints and years after the ground broke, the new terminal is scheduled open in three days. The old portion will likely be closed for its renovation based upon my recall of the plans.

It would be nice to have a walkway to the second floor parking lot wall. How easy was that? Imagine how easy it would be to get from point A to B in addition to the safety factor of easier accessibility. It seems like a no brainer. Oh well, still no restrooms and that can really hurt! Yet, J. C. Decaux remains completely untapped by CTA Officials who schuck and jive after failing to re-evaluate its inconsistent and ridiculous ban on bathrooms. What would it take to act like many normal major metropolitan cities and at least promote privatize restrooms. Think Olympics? How many atheletes will you upset? Maybe, if we e-mail Daley about the much sought after five rings, he might buckle on banos?

What's the point? Well, a wise person would come up with a way to simultaneously encourage sanitation, prevent vandalism and promote safety. However, we must depend upon well connected so-called experts with an agenda, who have no appreciation or clue that the trade offs of installing a restroom are well worth it to the ridership.
Yet, after all is said and not done, I have to marvel at how inept Mid America seems in failing to rent out nearly all the store fronts that line the Terminal at Gateway Plaza. When I went to its website to search for Gateway, I found no listing. It shows how interested they are in renting or selling the property. Not! Who owns Gateway, anyway? Duncan Donuts?