Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dumb Ass

I must be a masochist because I volunteered to serve on my condo board again.

God help me.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Drinks With Mr. Sassy

A few Fridays ago, I ran into a nice man with a Texas Longhorns baseball cap on and a twang to match.

We were introduced by one of the staff of the bar and made the usual chit chat one makes on a Friday night.

One thing was evident---at least to me---from the start.

My newly introduced friend was “family.” And I mean family in the gay way, not the black way.

Frankly either one was fine with me. ‘Cause I’m cool like that.

As I stated in part two of the preamble, if you want to meet a gay man just hang out with me.

So we chatted until he had to leave for destinations unknown. My new bar friend seemed genuine and nice.

I had a vague sense of the familiar when we were chatting but nothing really connected.

Plus I think I was about on my fourth glass of wine.

I meet so many people when I go out that I’ve had people come up to me on the street, on the bus, in a store and carry on conversations about things in my life that you would only know if we had actually spoken.

All the while I’m staring at them like “Who are you?”

It happens all the time.

It’s part and parcel of being me.

So I really didn’t think anything about the warm soap and water feeling I was getting from Mr. Sassy in his Texas Longhorns baseball cap.

The places where I tend to socialize are ground zero for celebrity watching in the city of Chicago.

Movie stars, political figures, big money rollers and the bright young things on the scene all rub shoulders with us common everyday working folk.

I don’t care who you are and what you have, more than likely at some point you’re going to want to take a drink.

And when you take that drink you’re going to want to be social and around people.

In my humble opinion that’s the great equalizer among human beings; rich or poor, smart or dumb we all tend to like our booze.

I’ve seen George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Aretha Franklin, Don King, U2, David Swimmer, The Honorable Richard J. Daley and a host of other names that you would only recognize if you lived in Chicago.

Their presence barely made me raise my eyebrow.

Well that not entirely true as Mr. Clooney made my stomach flutter and I almost broke out into tears when I saw Ms. Franklin.

But even through those close calls I managed to emerge with my dignity intact and not create a scene.

It is important to “act like you’ve been there before.”

Even if it’s not true, you should act like seeing a famous person is the most common and everyday thing in the world.

Ironically, out of all of the people I’ve seen, I’ve never once spotted Oprah in the 12 years that I’ve lived here.

The next night I’m at the same watering hole and Mr. Sassy appears in the doorway resplendent in a cream velvet tuxedo jacket with red hibiscuses.

My God it was one of the gayest things I had ever seen and I just loved him for it.

Chicago is a pretty conservative town dressing wise. Men just don’t wear cream velvet tuxedo jackets with red hibiscuses on them.

I made a beeline for him and directed him back to the other end of the bar where a friend and I had our drinks.

Introductions were made, drink orders were placed, attire was fawned over and the chatting commenced.

That warm soap and water feeling kept coming back; like I knew my new friend much better than I realized.

That’s when it hit me.

That’s when I figured out who he was.

I went into total 16 year old---hands over mouth—finger pointing—hysterical I know who you are mode.

Once again I was on my fourth glass of wine for the night.

I can see George Clooney and hold it together but loose my shit over a Texas born, gay wedding and event planner.

Go figure?

It’s interesting the priority that we as human beings place on others.

One woman’s gay event planner is obviously just as every bit of important as the sexiest man alive himself.

So as I’m in the corner making a scene and acting like an ass. Mr. Sassy states that he has to excuse himself to go to the bathroom.

That was the last time I saw him.

The great thing about knowing your entertaining and lifestyle mavens is that no one else in the room except is die hard dorks knows who they are.

Which would probably explain why people looked at me like I was a goober, they didn’t know that they were in the presence of event planning genius.

So there you have it---I scared away Mr. Sassy and managed to look like an ass in one of the nicest hotel bars in the city.

My cool points are down to zero.

If you’re wondering why I don’t name Mr. Sassy the answer is simple---I rarely if ever use anyone’s real name in the blog.

Just because he’s a public figure doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserver the same respect.

I’ve dropped enough clues that if you’re familiar with the players in the industry you should be able to figure it out.

Then of course an event planner that comes from a family of seven Texas football coaches shouldn’t be too hard to find.

At least I didn’t piss myself when I met him---thank God.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fruit Fly Preamble, Part II

Seriously---what is it with me and the gays?

Now this doesn’t hold true for all gay men or lesbians but I do seem to have my fair share of friends that just happen to be gay.

I remember my first gay boyfriend.

I was a newly minted 18 year old dropped off at college. Not too long thereafter I began to attract the attentions of a certain handsome junior.

Who among us wouldn’t be swooning at the prospect?

This stylish, good looking, older man---with a car I might add---took an actual interest in me.

Zit faced, hill jacked, slightly goofy, Care Free curl wearing me.

Good Lord, I thought he was the one.

Little did I know he would be the first of many gay men who for some reason seem to flock to me like the swallows coming back to Capistrano.

As I stated earlier, this doesn’t go for all gay men.

There are just as many misogynists that happen to be gay. Straight men don’t have the monopoly on marginalizing, humiliating or hating women.

And to be fair, I’m just not everybody’s cup of tea.

Most people would call me a fag hag but I’ve always hated that term.

I don’t like using the “F” word and I am a lot of things, but a hag isn’t one of them.

Instead, one of my good friends who also happens to be gay has coined another term---a less harsh moniker—he calls women who attract gay men a fruit flies.

Kinda catchy, huh?

Coincidentally, I’ve learned not only a lot about myself but a few do’s and don’ts with regards to gay men in general.

I’ll get into those points in another post so I can remain focused.

So combine my love of the lifestyle arts with my tendency to find gay men and it was only a matter of time before I ran into Mr. Sassy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fruit Fly Preamble

I’m a closet home design freak and a wannabe lifestyle maven.

Now I didn’t start out this way. I was never the girly girl with the matching pouf valence that coordinated with the bed skirt.

Baby, it took me years to realize my inner girl.

While I used to live for Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN; I was that girl who just didn’t quite have enough sense, style or money to look effortless and chic.

Frankly that girl isn’t completely gone but she’s grown into a woman who has some idea of what looks good on her. If pressed I can perhaps host a small dust up for a few people.

Mother Martha and a host of friends worked very hard to get me to this point.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my own mother a source of domestic diva inspiration.

She could can some tasty bread and butter pickles.

She also sewed most of our clothes in our younger years.

Money was tight---blowing it on garments that we would grow out of in a season just wasn’t practical. Why buy clothing when you could run a cutesy poo dress up on the sewing machine?

So it was from this background that my interest in the domestic arts arose in my mid-twenties.

Gracious, elegant living doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.

Or so Mother Martha convinced me.

Starting roughly around 1995 I bought my first edition of Martha Stewart Living. In 1996 I started subscribing.

I may have let a few subscriptions lapse and I may be missing a few issues here and there but rest assured of one thing:

I have every last regular edition Martha Stewart Living magazine I’ve ever purchased. I don’t throw them away and I don’t give them away.

Hell, I don’t even let them out of my house. And no, you can’t borrow them to get recipe ideas. If you can’t get it online at her website, you’re screwed.

The exception to that rule is the Martha Stewart Living Weddings editions.

I feel at 38 I may not get married so I gave them to my former neighbor when she started to plan her wedding.

Sometimes you just gotta let it go---you know what I’m saying?

Anyhoo, Mother Martha got me interested in other lifestyle magazines and now deem it absolutely essential for my existence to have House Beautiful show up every month.

The bug continued to spread and I started watching those cooking, home décor and gardening shows with renewed vigor.

Fine Living Network, The Style Network and HGTV should be the basis for everyone’s T.V. watching schedule.

I even own chaffing dishes.

Colin Cowie, Debbie Travis, Christopher Lowell, Mother Martha---all big names in the lifestyle, event planning and home décor games.

I’m a normal rational person (mostly).

I know these people aren’t my friends and have branded themselves and their products so they and their business partners can get rich.

It does seem that when you see someone all the time on the telly and they’re giving you such great tips on how to make you world a little brighter; you can’t help but to feel as if they're your long time pal.

I mean if I saw Preston Bailey in front of me in the Jewel, I’d almost piss myself.

Is it any wonder that since lifestyle gurus are the rock stars of my world that I would inevitably make an ass of myself when I actually met one in person?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Come To Jesus Meeting

Two Sundays ago, I saw the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My new neighbor had the keys to our front door duplicated and given out to her frequent visitors.

I about lost my shit.

I understand that a single woman who lives by herself needs to make sure that a trusted friend has a set of keys to her home. But when the let’s go kick it crew is rolling in and out of the front door of our home, that’s a problem.

So I fired off this little ditty to the owner of the unit:


While out on my front porch this morning I noticed that two or possibly three people have the key to the XXXX-XXXX building front door. Obviously I don't know who's authorized to live in the unit but the number of people who have access to our front door is, on its face, troubling.

Can you or your agent confirm with either XXXX or XXXX who is officially on the lease and take steps to stop your tenant from distributing keys to our front door. This is an egregious safety issue that concerns everyone who lives in or visits our home.

Unfortunately I did not have the e-mail address to your property manager on my home PC as I would of sent this e-mail directly to him, but I felt this issue was so important that I wanted to address it with you directly.



While I never received a written reply to my concerns, word had it that the owner’s property manager would attend our next association meeting.

In the middle of our meeting, he did actually show up.

Unfortunately for him, he got an earful that night.

I renewed my concerns about everyone and their mother having a key to the front door. I also let Mr. Property Manager know that the frequency of his tenant’s pot smoking was a well known open secret.

Not only is the hallway filled with smoke but since I live directly above my smoking neighbor, my home smelled like a bong as well.

The other residents of our building that were in attendance all shook their heads in agreement.

Mr. Property Manager had already addressed the front door key issue but did not know that there was a pot smoking issue as well.

Luckily I was there to notify him of that fact.

One of my downstairs neighbors on the other hand, really let her feelings be known about the tenant situation.

While none of our building’s residents appreciated any of these shenanigans, my first floor neighbor is on the front lines of all of this disturbing foolishness.

She hears the increased traffic coming in and out of the door, the people walking over her head, the playing of the loud music at all hours of the night and in some cases the loud voices that accompanied by the increase in foot traffic.

Needless to say she is not a happy camper.

She “expressed” her concerns in a way where there was no doubt to her meaning.

In short we let Mr. Property Manager know that we’re NOT “the spot” or “the let’s go kick it place.”

The fact that we even had to express the lack of communal courtesy from this tenant made the phrase “proper tenant screening” surface in the conversation several times.

We got our point across.

In the few weeks since we had this come to Jesus meeting with the property manager, my new neighbor’s behavior has dramatically improved.

The constant stream of people has been reduced significantly and the 24/7 pot smoking has dropped off quite a bit as well.

Only time will tell if things are getting back to normal.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I swear both of these conversations happened when I was at my usual watering hole last night:

“You're African American and a woman---do you know Oprah?”

Later on in the evening a nice lady from Kentucky said

“Do you know Oprah?” “Is she still with her boyfriend? What’s his name?”

Twice in one night---that’s a record for me. I haven’t been mistaken for or been asked about Oprah in a few years.

So as a public service to people to those few people in the world who may not know it, not all black people know one another.

Moreover, people tend to surround themselves with others who share something in common with them. Aside from our color, Oprah and I really have nothing in common.

Let’s run down the checklist:

Oprah owns her own business, I don’t.

Oprah has allegedly purchased fabulous new digs on east Lake Shore Drive; my fabulous digs are in Woodlawn.

Oprah has vast real estate holdings; I own the house I grew up in South Bend.

Oprah has been in movies, I haven’t.

Oprah is estimated to be a billionaire, unfortunately I’m not.

Oprah has a jet, I don’t.

Oprah has been to the Oscars, I haven’t

Moreover she’s been to the Vanity Fair Oscar party and Mr. Carter has yet to send an invitation my way.

So as you can see the black woman thing will only take you so far.

While I’m sure if I ever met Oprah again we’d have something to talk about, it’s not like we run in the same circles.

So to make myself perfectly clear---I don’t know Oprah or Michael Jordan for that matter. And no, I don't know how to get tickets to her show.

Now stop asking.

Friday, December 01, 2006


The Indos finally won one for the---Gipper---or at least his Indian equivalent. The final score was 28-23.

The website for our soon to be new neighbors, Living Green Lofts, has been enhanced. It now has floor plans and pricing (God I love the concept of rising property value---taxes---not so much) as well as smattering of "green products" that will be standard in the units.

The hoody ho seems to be abuzz with construction. A second new condo project is getting ready to break ground in the 6500 block of Dorchester. The frame and shell of a new condo building has almost been completed on 65th Place---down the street from the Living Green Lofts.

I'm a sucker, no a glutton for punishment. I nominated myself and will be serving on my condo board yet again. 2007 ought to be interesting.

I'm already planning my balcony gardens for next spring.

Piney the Christmas tree is up and almost decorated. Luckily the gay boyfriends took me to get Mr. Piney on Monday when it was 60 degrees and I was sweating. Today our low will be 18 degrees. Not the best day to get a tree. Once he's all festooned and bedecked, I'll post a picture.

The bathroom is done. Thank you Jesus.

Diligent readers have already seen the back splash transformation and heard about the original floor. The painting has been completed; the light fixture and accessories have been installed. I'll post yet another picture before the end of the year.

My goal is to make my home look so luxe you'll wonder how I can afford to live there.

Monday, November 27, 2006

You Tube

I can't believe entertainment like this is free. God bless America!

H & R Black

I have never been a big fan of the large tax preparation services.

In my humble opinion, their fees are outrageous.

A pound of flesh for preparing your taxes, a pound of flesh for electronic filing your taxes and another pound of flesh for an expedited refund.

I’ve seen some people pay as much as $600-$800 for these combined services.

While that may not seem like a lot of money if you’re getting several thousand back for a refund, if you’re getting $3,000 or less back that’s a significant amount of change.

Robber barons if you ask me.

While large tax preparation services have locations nationwide, I find it especially galling that these businesses pop up like mushrooms in financially underserved communities.

Neighborhoods where there are loads of people who will do your taxes (for a fee), but not a lot of federally or state chartered banks.

Don’t even get me on a rant about Currency Exchanges that offer tax preparation services.

Shit, we’d be here all day.

I was content to let the tax preparation services be---no on is putting a gun to the head of the people who use their services.

But this latest ad that H & R Block has placed on CTA vehicles and common spaces has crossed the line.

The print ad featuring an African American goes a little something like this:

“I got $1,500 back. Without a W-2. I got people.”

You got people, huh?

Now I hope H & R Block isn’t that stupid to run a grammatically incorrect print ad with an African American face with the hopes to solely market to an African American client base.

I would hope that their ad agency has several print ads with that "copy" that run on buses featuring people of all nationalities.

‘Cause I know that they have “people” too.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Can blacks not speak or understand the King’s English? Can corporate American believes that we're so behind the reading and comprehension curve that print ads have to stoop to the lowest common denominator?

I was so offended when I saw those ghetto ass ads.

So instead of firing off a letter to H & R Block where it may fall on deaf ears, I figured I’d do something a little off beat to fix their little red wagon:

I’d let everyone know that if you make $38,000 or less the IRS will prepare your federal return and electronically file it for free.

That’s right kids, free, gratis, nothing---nada.

Hard working people who earn crap money all over this great country of ours shouldn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars to file their taxes.

Since this is a free service, you more than likely will have to wait a long time at your local IRS office.

Taking a day off of work to get this little task done may not be a bad idea.

Weigh the cost of losing a day’s pay (if you’re paid hourly) or a vacation day (if you’re not) vs. paying a tax preparation service several hundreds of dollars and you’ll have your answer.

When I was eligible to use the service, I found that after my long initial wait, the service was good and the process went smoothly.

I went on a Tuesday and had my federal refund in my account the next Monday.

Did I mention that it was free?

You got people too.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


If you’ve been reading this blog, you know by now that an unjust fine that was foisted upon us by the city of Chicago for our developer’s misdeeds.

I’ve chronicled the process of my condo association’s journey through the maze of city departments.

Usually when I sought assistance with this nightmare, I was usually told either by the state or the city that there was very little that anyone or any department could do for us.

Our association lawyer even told us that things didn’t look good.

If you’ve been reading for the past year or so, you know that the city did everything by the book. It wasn’t their fault that our developer, Carlton Knight, didn’t inform us of the impending legal matters before us.

If memory severs me correct, Mr. Knight said that an irresponsible employee was to blame for the miscommunication.


In a stroke of luck The Lord High Executioner put me in touch with an individual at the Department of Revenue that I’ll call Mr. Money Bags.

Mr. Money Bags lost the initial paperwork I submitted to him over a month ago.

While I was pissed, I still went ahead and resubmitted the paperwork again last Tuesday.

Mr. Money Bags called me back and was mystified what we had to do with this whole debacle and why were we worried about the consequences.

I referenced some of the paperwork that I sent and explained to him that we were listed as third party defendants to the complaint. Therefore we were liable for the initial debt, the interest and the court costs.

Money Bags vehemently disagreed.

He again stated that the initial fine had nothing to do with our building or condo association.

Once again, I told him that despite that fact that he was absolutely 100% correct, that had nothing to do with the fact that we named as third party defendants.

Mr. Money Bags said he needed to put in a phone call to the law firm that was charged with collecting our debt and would call me back in about 20 minutes.

20 minutes later he was back on the phone.

“Woody, I just got an education in how these things work. You were right.”

“I’ve spoken with Wexler (the law firm) and they are starting the paperwork right now to vacate the judgment. Everything should be cleared up by Christmas.”

Who says gentle persistence won’t work?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No Indians or Jews For Me

Sadly, family and duty are pulling me away from the much hyped Indo-Jew Bowl in Skokie.

Naturally I'm heart broken.

I am hoping my brown brothers can open up a can of whoop ass on the Jews. But I don't mean that in a Michael Richards type of way.

Apparently the Indos have been getting taken to school for the past couple of years. It seems like it's about time to start evening out the series out with a win.

Gentlemen, it's time to run the table.

Go Indians!

An Open Letter to Jay-Z or How To Cater To Your Aged Fan Base

Mr. Carter,

I’m sorry that I missed you this weekend at the Rivera.

My friend and I tried to get in to the Crobar listening party. Allegedly you were going to drop in on last night but apparently everyone else heard that rumor too.

You see Mr. Jigga Man---may I call you Jigga?---I’m a full fledged member of the first national hip hop generation. That means those of us who were amazed by “The Breaks” or “Rapper’s Delight” are now approaching 40.

While I can’t speak for the others in my generation, I can firmly state that when the party gets started at 10:00 PM (on a school night no less) more than likely you will see me quietly sleeping in a nook against the wall.

It’s not that you bore me H.O.V.A., in fact the opposite is true.

You’re one of the few rappers that make me listen to not only the beats and the flow but your lyrics as well.

I actually take the time to look up your lyrics on the original hip hop lyric archives.

But I digress.

While I’m a devotee of your stylings I have to drop a bug in your ear regarding those of us who may not be in our twenties or early thirties.

I know it’s not cool to start a show early---let’s say 7:00 or 8:00 o’clock but gosh darn us 9-5 working folks would sure appreciate the gesture.

Is it also possible that we could relax the dress code a tad? High heels on Chicago pavement and standing in a packed club does not lend itself to overall good foot health.

Plus wearing a skirt cut up to there and a top cut down to there gives me a sinus infection just thinking about it.

A cute but Chicago practical outfit (slacks, v-neck sweater, scarf, wool coat) along with comfy shoes---mine were Coach trainers---should be acceptable attire for almost anywhere but the opera.

Mr. Carter---Jigga Man---H.O.V.A, I’m a 38 years old woman who works two jobs and has tremendous responsibility on my shoulders, I can barely afford to wait on line in cute but uncomfortable footwear past my bedtime.

Consider it a compliment that I even tried to attend the function last night. It was everything I hate about the “club” experience but I really did want to catch one of your shows before you retire again.

Attitude was everywhere. People under 25 were everywhere. The lack of a noticeable security presence was glaringly absent. The door policy was questionable at best and don’t even get me started about the door staff.

Is this too much to ask from one of rap’s most heralded MC’s?

I will try to see your show if you come through Chicago again provided your not touring with an alleged child molester.

I promise when I get in I won’t fall asleep.

Highest Regards,

The Woodlawn Wonder

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Chronic

When I moved to my home five years ago, I purposely chose the top floor.

I had lived on the second floor in my last condo and despite the fact I absolutely loved my neighbors, there is something to be said for having someone walking over your head.

On the south side, that wasn’t a problem.

I was also fortunate to not have hard core smokers for neighbors either.

Sure, someone might light up a cigarette here or a clove there; on occasion something stronger would make a special guest appearance on the weekend or during a party.

But it wasn’t a chronic situation.

That all changed with the departure of two of my neighbors to continue their lives with their new mates.

Because smoke rises and I live on the top floor, when you so much fry and piece of bacon in our building the aroma comes my way.

Hell, I can probably even tell you when you had that bad boy in the skillet.

When I don’t have some type of cold or sinus infection, the sniffer is dead on.

Unfortunately this can be a draw back when you have people that live below you that have a difference outlook on recreational pot smoking.

On it’s face, I really don’t give a damn if you want to blaze it up---just don’t let your smoking affect my quality of life.

In short, I don’t want to smell it---at all, ever.

Some of my other neighbors are so circumspect that I had no idea they “smoked” until they mistakenly opened their door to answer my knocks.

I was mildly shocked.

Not because they smoked but because they were so good about concealing the fact.

Ever since my downstairs neighbor moved out, my place has smelled like varying degrees of bad bong water.

The first set of neighbors weren’t that bad with their smoking but you did notice the uptick of the pot smell in the hallway.
At first I thought they were bad but now, I truly know what bad is.

My current downstairs neighbors smoke so much; it’s easier for me to tell you when they don’t smoke as opposed to when they do.

I get up very early in the morning and on most days either my living room or dining room smell like a blunt.

Don’t even get me started about the smell when I come home from work.

Words cannot describe how vastly unhappy this makes me.

Can you imagine if someone in my building tries to sell and a prospective buyer comes in with the hallway smelling like a college frat party?

This ain’t good.

Friday, November 17, 2006


He can’t find it.

All the paperwork I put together for my Department of Revenue contact has magically disappeared.

We spoke briefly two days ago about the situation and I was assured that I’d receive a phone call back before the end of the day.

In all actuality I didn’t expect him to call me back so it was no surprise to me when he didn't.

No sweat, I’ll call him the next day and see what’s up.

Naturally he’s not in the office.

Alright, no worries--- I’ll try again tomorrow.

So I call today, leave a message and I receive a prompt phone call back.

“Hello, this is XXX from XXX’s office.”


“XXXX would like you to fax all of the information along with a cover letter to his attention so he can review the matter.”

“Ummm I already did that almost a month ago. Are you telling me that all of the documentation that I submitted was lost?”


Can you believe this shit?

I do the research, I fill out multiple freedom of information documentiation requests, I lay out the whole issue from beginning to end, I make the copies AND I walk it over to my contact’s office all for it to be lost?

Not only is it lost but it took a month to have enough time to tell me that you don’t have enough time to keep the paperwork I dug up safely tucked away.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marshall Fields

I have such a love hate relationship with this time of year.

I hate the cold and snow.

The dry weather wreaks havoc with my skin and I hate the fact that it's dark when I go to work and come home.

But I love Christmas and holiday parties.

As a matter of fact, I've started bringing up the multitude of ornaments I've been able to collect over the years.

I have so many that it will literally take me the rest of the week (at one trip a day) to get the rest of them out of my storage unit.

Or if I wanted to make it a one shot deal, I would spend the better part of a day schlepping up and down three flights of stairs.

If you saw my tree you would think that I spend goo-gobs of cash on ornaments and the like.

Nah, I'm just the daughter of an elementary school teacher who learned that you have to pinch pennies and cut coupons where you can without sacrificing quality.

It took a long time for that message to sink in as I tend to have some expensive tastes.

My late mother would often remind me that I was not of the ruling or leisure classes. A message I often dismissed cavorting around in Lake Forest, Illinois.

But that's another story for another time.

Speaking of my mother, both of my parents died at separately within a year of each other around the holidays.

Not too long after my mother died in late 1999, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, Charles Schultz passed as well.

It was such a hard time for me. My life had been turned upside down.

The person who had raised me (my mother) was gone and now the man who seemingly as much a part of my family as anyone else was gone as well.

The man created Snoopy and revolutionized the way cartoons were brought to children. From what I read about him, he was deeply religious and moral but not in that preachy fake ass way.

In short---and you will rarely hear me say it, much less type it---he's the type of conservative I actually like.

One that walks the walk and talks the talk.

The mourning for my mother was deepened by Mr. Schultz's loss. So much so that at one point during that winter of early 2000 I just couldn't get off of the couch.

Thank god I had an extremely understanding boss.

So whenever I hear the opening strains of "Christmas time is here" I just tear up. If I'm having a bad day I just fall apart.

That song represents my happy childhood, my mother, her love, our small little family and the happy Christmases.

All of the things I took for granted in my rush to become an adult.

You never realize how much those memories mean to you until you pass them by and catch them becoming smaller in the rear view mirror of your life.

That's why cats and kittens, it's the little things that mean so much during this time of year. Give me change from January to Halloween but the holiday season is sacrosanct.

Unfortunately change reared its ugly head last year and dashed one of Chicago's venerable institutions.

When Macy's bought Marshall Field's they made many improvements. Keeping the name was not one of them.

It angered me as well as a great many other Chicagoans.

Happy memories pissed away because of the corporate bottom line and synergy.

What complete bullshit.

So until now I like many others have quietly boycotted both Macy's and Bloomingdales (also owned by Macy's).

Money talks, bullshit walks.

Even the best bartender knows that it's not the infrequent customers that keep your bottom line afloat but the regulars.

Apparently the New York interlopers are just starting to figure that out.

So when you're thinking about your gift giving this year, cross Macy's off your list. Send a message.

With so much out of your control, wouldn't it be nice to take back a small measure of power?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Done Deal

My neighbor has sold her place.

Rumor has it that she has already closed on the deal and may have already packed up and left.

I'm curious to see who my new neighbor will be. Now this ought to be interesting.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Chocolate Lady

I’ve been lurking in the blogs of my fellow Woodlawnites recently.

I’m always amused by the inevitable fish out of water stories I read about being a minority in a minority neighborhood. For most white people, this is a strange concept and I’m sure it takes some getting used to.

In my experience, negotiating two different cultures is almost like speaking a second language. It requires you to be well versed in both vernaculars as well as having the fluidity to seamlessly move between the different worlds.

All this blogging along with my recent entry about Young Mr. WhiteFolks reminded me of a funny college story.

You see my friends, I had the privilege, nay the honor to earn my undergraduate degree at a little piece of paradise called Lake Forest College.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Chicagoland area, Lake Forest a city situated near the northern end of the very tony and exclusive north shore.

The north shore roughly starts right outside the northern Chicago city limits in Evanston and continues up the Lake Michigan coastline to Lake Bluff.

Some very well off people make their homes along the north shore. And when I say well off, I mean the people who have so much money that they don’t like to talk about matters concerning the green stuff.

That my friends, is considered poor taste.

So it was with a super awesome carefree curl and wide curious eyes I entered into this world in the fall of 1986.

I had just turned 18 and had no idea that people actually lived that way.

This was during the era of Dynasty and 80’s excess. All of that was as accessible to the daughter of the elementary school teacher as a flight to the moon.

I honestly thought all of that was entertainment---no more, no less. A well off family to me resembled Dr. & Mrs. Heathcliff Huxtable, not Blake and Crystal Carrington.

Boy did I get a very well heeled reality check.

It took me the better part of the school year to honestly understand that a family could own more than one house.

“But why would you have a summer home?” I asked.

I will say that some of my new classmates were just as fascinated with me and I was with them. Then of course I guess that what’s college is about. Leaving your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries---meeting people who aren’t like you.

For as many questions as I asked about vacation homes, the social register and owning an island; they asked me if I tanned, about my hair and why all of the black students sat together in the cafeteria.

All in all it was a four year cross cultural learning session.

Now please don’t think that not everyone who went to Lake Forest was rolling in the big cash.

There were enough middle class kids of all stripes to keep an interesting balance.

Plus the school needed work study labor for the cafeteria and phys plant.

Being an industrious soul I not only had a campus job and typed papers as a side hustle, I also had a job off campus in a Haagen Dazs ice cream shop.

Side Note: To this day I consider it a blessing that the prep schools at the time either didn’t offer typing courses or the young men & women I typed for never thought they would need such a skill.

One day I was working when a small boy---about three years old---came in to the ice cream shop with his parents.

His eyes grew wide; he pointed and excitedly yelled, “Look, it’s a chocolate lady!”

The room stopped and his parents looked as if they wanted the ground to open up and swallow them whole.

The little boy didn’t stop. He kept on saying “Chocolate lady!” “Chocolate lady!”

It took his parents a few minutes to quiet him down. He seemed very happy to see me.

I’m sure you’d be shocked to know that chocolate was near and dear to his blessed little three year old heart.

As I was serving the family, I explained to him that I wasn’t made of chocolate but I just happened to be the same color.

I explained that there were many other people who looked like me and we were commonly referred to as black or African American. I also told him that we also came in various shades of brown.

I’d never had such a rapt audience in my life. The kid hung on my every word.

I really freaked him out when I showed him the palms of my hands.

I would have given a million dollars to know what was going on in that three year old head of his.
As I handed the father the ice cream and took payment, the young man tried to lick my hand.

Now if he were twenty years older adjusted his aim and tried such a move, I might not have minded.

But three years old is beyond Mary Kay Letourneau.

I reminded him that I wasn’t made out of chocolate I just happened to be born brown.

Seeing that incident was almost twenty years ago, I’m sure he’s keeping his waspy Lake Forest parents hopping with a succession of girlfriends that happen to be women of color.

So when my while my white Woodlawn neighbors blog about being the only person who looks like them in their neighborhood(s) I completely understand.

I am so waiting for Chikat’s husband to get spinners for the Golf.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Honeycomb Kid

A small surprise awaited me this morning when the nice men came to lay down my new tile floor in the bathroom.

You remember the bathroom remodel I started, right?

The shower backsplash got replaced with the glass mosaic tile.

The bathroom has since been painted, giant mirrors and glass shelving has replaced the medicine cabinet, a new light fixture has been installed.

Now the honeycomb hexagonal new floor is being laid.

(**Insert your own inappropriate “laid” joke here**)

Nonetheless my tile guy calls me and says, “You know that your developer laid your current floor over the existing original floor, right?”

“Why no floor guy, I didn’t”

“The original floor is almost exactly like the tile that you picked out.”

“Really? So if my developer had left well enough alone, I could have had exactly what I wanted?”

“It looks that way. The floor could have been repaired had it not been tiled over. Naturally we can’t save it now as it was damaged when we lifted the other tile off.”

“Of course.”

He then mapped out my options and let me decide which was going to be a good fit for me and my budget.

I could of set the new tile over the original tile but the original tile was too “slippery” and the new floor eventually would of come up in a couple of years.

Instead I opted to rip out both floors and do it the right way so there will be no drama in a couple of years or in a couple of decades.

Naturally the right way will cost me an extra $200.00

But you know what? I partially blame myself.

I selected to live in this building because I love old buildings. A more savvy buyer would of gone in and done a complete and thoughtful assessment of what was there (original honeycomb tile floor in the bathroom, moldings & built in hutch) and put it’s restoration in the contract.

Moral of the story #1: Trust no one else’s taste but your own. Unless you’re hard up for cash and need the salvage money, there’s no reason to rip out built in’s or cover original tile. Well there is but I was always told its bad manners to point out other people's crappy taste.

Then of course, who says my crib is House Beautiful cover material?

Moral of the story #2: Check everything in the unit you’re going to buy---especially a vintage building---and make sure it’s inclusion or demolition is in the contract.

So the question remains, why am I still paying for Carlton Knight’s (or his general contractor’s) miscues?

God only knows what else I’ll find as I continue to remodel.

The Indo-Jew Bowl

I will consider my life an abysmal failure if I cannot (*somehow*) make it to this annual gridiron contest in Skokie.

I mean, seriously---who could (or would) pass this up?

I’m already scared that I won’t be able to attend as I have familial commitments to mind. But golly gosh darn I’m gonna try so hard to make the magic happen.

Personally I’d like to do a soul food tailgate with all of the classic fixins’ along with both beef and pork ribs. You know---for diversity’s sake.

Nobody wants to get a n Indo-Jew beat down on Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Red Forman

These dumbasses deserve everything they get.

The intelligence of your average criminal in the Chicagoland area has hit the skids.

My Hometown

What can you say about South Bend, Indiana?

When I go home---which is often these days---the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's song "My Hometown" just run over and over through my mind.

The future for my old stomping grounds ain't looking good.

Some kids who went to Notre Dame believe that hope springs eternal and put up this website.

I hope they're right.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boo! The Scary Renters

Some scary new developments have been happening around the association lately.

The first has to do with my new neighbors downstairs.

Apparently playing loud music in the early morning hours, “smoking” until my unit smells like an “ashtray” and propping the door open for visitors is how things were done in their last place of residence.

I cannot stress how much we don’t roll like that over here.

But such is the life when you have rentals in your association.

Yeah, yeah---I know not all renters are bad. Blah, blah, blah and cry me a river.

And I have to agree---not all renters are bad.

But I will say, you tend to be a tad on the persnickety side when you realize that a thoughtless act such as leaving the door opens could ruin everyone’s day. Hell, it could even lead to a possible home invasion.

I suspect that my new neighbors don’t have their phone line hooked into the intercom system yet or don’t have a land line.

They will either have to get off their asses to let their guests in or work with their landlord to get the front door intercom situation resolved.

‘Cause I ain’t trying to look up and see one of those Jenkins Boys standing over me as I sleep.

Speaking of being watched…

Another one of my neighbors reports feeling an other worldly presence in the unit that she rents.

Reportedly, she believes that a spirit resides with her.

The more interesting part of the story is that her baby is woken up by the presence and has allegedly reached out to be picked up as if someone is standing by his crib, yet no one is there.

When the nice renter neighbor---we’ll call her Boho----asked our other neighbor (and her good friend) if she had any similar experiences, she replied yes.


Apparently our spirit visitor has sat on the bed while my other neighbor sleeps.

Now I know all of this sounds far fetched but I don’t disbelieve anything both ladies have to say. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that a building as old as ours didn’t have a few visitors who are not of this world.

Now I’m no expert but all of the supernatural stories I’ve been seeing on TV the past few weeks say that spirits tend to stay with a location and not with a person.

The stories also went onto say that usually they stay on the earthly plane because an attachment is preventing them from peacefully passing into the next world.

That attachment could be to a person that may need their help or a distraught relative. A pursuit of justice or plain old unfinished business---some of us just aren’t ready to leave this life and move on into the next.

Boy howdy if those walls could talk, I’m sure they’d have some stories to tell.

The odd thing is that when the actual owner lived in the unit, she never experienced any encounters of the supernatural.

I honestly think that some of us are more attuned to the spirit world than the rest of us dunderheads. I believe my neighbor, Boho, is such a person.

I will tell you this: On occasions, I get a little goose in my side when I’m washing dishes or standing in the bathroom.

This doesn’t strike me as odd as I believe that my dearly departed mother was to blame for the shenanigans.

While she hasn’t been walking with us for almost seven years, I know she has to watch over me as I wander about through life’s journeys.

How do I know this?

‘Cause I have the knack of getting out of some fucked up situations that I have no business getting out of.

If I started telling you the stories, you’d call me a liar.

But I won’t quibble with you gentle readers. It enough that I believe---you certainly don’t have to.

Nonetheless, my mother always knew that I hated---and I mean hated---to be goosed.

So if that’s her doing it I tell her that I still don’t like it and to stop.

Nothing’s changed.

Now if the theory holds true and spirits stay with a place and not a person, why would she give me a goose in my “new” place?

While I’ve been living on the south side for close to five years, my mother wasn’t alive when I bought this place in 2001. In fact, it was coming up on the second anniversary of her death.

So is mama stalking me or is someone else mixed up in the fray?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Here We Go Again or Is The Grass Really Greener?

Persistence pays off---or at least that what I hear.

The saga of the crappy looking parkway and grass across the street from me is a regular drum I beat around here at I Hate My Developer.

The fact that it’s being cleaned is great but I want my hoody hoo to look top notch.

Cracked sidewalks, weeds and misplaced asphalt isn’t exactly going to win the neighborhood any gardening awards.

As a matter of fact, it looks like ass.

Our friends, the school across the street, will either be trying to go for a grant to get the work done or will somehow find the money to make the magic happen.

After all, at least a block of the two block stretch of my street was supposed to be done before the fall.

It’s now October 30th and I’m still looking at assphalt.

I’ll be putting in a call to the Fresh Faced Youth to remind him that the 2007 community grant applications will be mailed shortly.

You see we’re gonna put our heads together and see if the both of us can come up with a winning proposal.

I feel like I’m at a metaphoric craps table looking for a score.

Mama needs some new green space across the street---big money, no whammies!

Methinks the larger question is what happens if the school doesn’t get the grant? Will they attempt to leave the parkway on the south end of their property in its current condition?

The school’s actions in this matter will be of interest to many.

If I were a betting woman I’d put my chips on black.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Young Mr. Whitefolks

Two of my favorite bartenders have taken the leap and will be moving to the south side prior to the holidays.

One gentleman has purchased a three flat not too far from me while the other will be nestled in bosom of Bronzeville.

Mr. Three Flat is a cuter version of Tiger Woods. I’ve seen people literally stop and stare at him behind the bar. They think that Ashton is around the corner and that everyone is about to get punk’d.

Celebrity look alike + liquor = hilarity

My other bartender friend is a tall drink of water with an affinity towards DJing and a easygoing demeanor.

When he told me that he and the wife were putting down roots a tad north of me, I was thrilled but concerned.

While some may disagree, as minorities in this country we’ve always had to straddle two or three cultures in order to negotiate our day to day living situations.

Knowing that you don’t want to purchase any loose squares (cigarettes) at the entrance to the “L” and being able to discuss the fact that Wagner must have been on crack when writing his Ring Cycle can come in handy.

Even when things were segregated we all knew that we didn’t like in a completely Black world. In order to get by we had to know something about the dominate culture.

It was (and is) a matter of survival.

While much has changed in the last 60 or so years and Black culture has been incorporated into the mainstream, I am still amazed at how much some White people don’t know about Blacks and other minorities.

Then of course I was thoroughly confused at the bi-racial, Mexican Catholic wedding I was at a month ago so I guess that knife cuts both ways.

In short we could all stand to go outside our usual comfort zones to experience other people’s cultures.

Nonetheless my tall bartender friend, I’ll call him Young Mr. Whitefolks, probably hasn’t had the pleasure of being one of the few people that look like you where you live.

Or maybe he has.

Maybe he’s been in the Peace Corp and I’m talking out of my ass.

I doubt it though.

Because he’s so tall and solid, I doubt he’ll have any trouble once the neighborhood gets to know him and the lovely Young Mrs. Whitefolks.

From what he’s been telling me, she was the one who recognized the beauty and value of the south side.

Obviously this young woman has an eye for real estate and is good with a dollar.

But I think the both of them discovering south side culture, particularly Black culture, is going to be a hoot.

Perhaps they should start reading ChiKat’s blog.

Young Mr. Whitefolks didn’t even know he is directly on the route for the Bud Bilikin Parade.

It’s only like the second (or third?) largest parade in the nation and if memory serves me correctly the largest parade in the city.

Saying that everything shuts down on the south side on parade day is an understatement.

I’ve already advised him to purchase his collard greens early.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Revenue Review

I’ve submitted all the papers I have to the proper authorities.

Now all I can do is sit and wait---again.

The ongoing saga of our developer’s administrative fine becoming our problem was chronicled here and here.

I know you all are thinking, “Hasn’t that gone away?” “Wasn’t that settled?”

In a phrase, no it wasn’t.

For the record, Mr. Knight didn't list us as his employers, the city assumed that because he was listed as our registered agent with the Secretary of State's office that he was our employee.

See my little dumplings what happens when you assume?

If memory serves me correctly, when Mr. Knight, was informed of the debt last year he wouldn’t cut us a check so we could go settle the matter with the city. At the time he wanted our attorney at the time to see if the debt could be transferred back into his name.

If you think father time isn’t kind to most things, you should try attempting to resurrect a four year old administrative fine and persuading the city to undo everything it’s already done.

Even though everything they did was by the book.

It’s not the city’s fault that Carlton didn’t inform the members of the board that wage deduction orders were piling up in his office.

The association would have a great civil case against him but for one small thing---he has made it a little tough for most people and governmental entities to find his money.

I’m not saying it can’t be found but it’s gonna take some kind of municipal or federal firepower to make that happen.

Firepower, I’m sorry to say that our condo association doesn’t have.

So why in heaven’s name would the association pursue a lawsuit with the expense of lawyers and the like when we’re fairly confident that we’d never see a dime of the money?

Then we’d still have to pay the money owed the city---the debt grows .64 cents a day---AND would be out of some major scratch for a lawyer to sue Carlton Knight

That my friend is called a pyrrhic victory---as I’ve found out from dealing with Mr. Knight, right doesn’t equal might.

So what to do?

Back when I first met the Lord High Executioner (LHE) I bounced this little head scratcher off of his noggin’ to see if he might be able to shed some light. Due to the age of the matter, there was little he could do from a law department perspective.

And at the time, we were frying other procedural fish concerning loopholes in the developers licensing registry and the granting of permits.

Prioritization is the key.

Nonetheless, once all of that hoo-ha was dealt with, there was still a little matter of the ever growing fine. A fine that no one who originally bought into the association or has since moved into the association is responsible for.

The LHE referred me to a contact in the Revenue Department.

The best analogy I can make to the Revenue Department is this---If the Law Department is Tony Soprano, the Revenue Department is Chris Moltisanti.

You do not want to have Christopher knocking on your front door. You do not want him looking for you.

Your day is going downhill fast when Chris or the Revenue Department has you in their sights.

They don’t play.

After a round of phone tag I reached the LHE’s contact and attempted a brief explanation of the problem.

He suggested that I gather up all of the paperwork, write a letter of explanation about the situation and fax it to his office.

I did just that but instead personally walked all of the paperwork in to his assistant on my way to work last Friday.

So I’m hoping that we’ll get extracted from this mess and that the debt falls squarely back onto the shoulders of Carlton Knight.

‘Cause from where I’m standing that’s where it belonged in the first place.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I Have Got To Meet This Girl...

The lovely Chikat posts another blurb about south side living that is laugh out loud funny.

She and the Mr. are getting ready to jet off to China---lucky ducks. When, oh when, will I ever get to meet this girl?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rules of Order

If you remember my “Dropping The Ball” post, it seems that the DCAP, The Revenue Department & The Department of Buildings didn’t quite know their head from their ass.

My questions and concerns prompted a flurry of e-mails. I also learned a few things in the process.

In fact those departments, do know their heads from their ass. Moreover, now that the oversight(s) has been uncovered, steps are being taken to correct the issue.

The e-mail below is the initial one sent by the Lord High Executioner (LHE):

It has come to my attention that developer's who fail to get licenses are still being allowed to get permits. As I understand the code requirements, developers must get licenses in order to receive permits.

I have a couple of questions.

First, is there any process that prevents permits from being issued to developer's who fail to get licenses? (DCAP?)

Second, if the City becomes aware that a developer lacks a license, is there a mechanism to revoke/suspend the permit that has been issued? (DCAP/DBAL?)

If we have a requirement that developer's must get licenses and they fail to do so, there should be some way to keep them from getting permits or, at least, punish them once we find that the permit has been issued.

I have a specific example where the developer has received a permit (after three previous stop work orders for not having the proper permit) has sold units and is selling more, and never received the required developer's license.

Should he have been prevented from getting this permit? Now that he's received it, can we take measures to revoke it?

(I) Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

And the response…

Currently, we have a process in place that prevents a non-licensed General Contractor from obtaining a permit. We cannot do the same with a Developer because the definition of a Developer is someone who will buy, fix & SELL the property. I can ask someone if they plan on "selling" when they apply for a permit, but if they say no, there is nothing I can ask for to prove otherwise.

I can though revoke a permit or void a pending application if DBAL tells me that the property owner was required to obtain a Developer's license. DBAL would only be able to prove that a property owner should have been a developer when the property owner, in fact, attempts to SELL. We spoke of this briefly yesterday during our meeting.

Just last month, DBAL sent me a list of property owners who had obtained permits, not obtained their developers license, and are now in the process of "selling". I've since voided all of their permits and sent them, & XXXX correspondence indicating such. DBAL has also issued "cease & desist" orders against them.

So, in summary . . . is there a process to prevent a Developer from obtaining a Permit if he/she has not obtained their license? No. Is there a process that allows us to revoke a permit once the "intent" to sell is proven? I believe we've just created one as of last month. Can we fine them for allegedly lying? We could probably pursue a "false statement" action, but I would ask if reference to such is made on the developer's license application.

Methinks a major announcement from the city about residential development may be on the horizon.

Friday, October 13, 2006


And I thought our association was getting the business from our developer---check out this story of woe from our friends at Chicago Magazine.

By The Way...

The Champion Cobalt is on the bathroom walls and I must say that it looks outstanding.

Bob the builder illustrated why my painting skills are far inferior to his. Big ups to curly top for painting the bathroom.

As soon as I can get the floor done and the accessories up, pictures will be posted.

If it took me this long to make decisions about the bathroom, can you imagine how long it's gonna take on the rest of the house?

Big Daddy Speaks

The principal of the school across the street called me at work about the latest parkway issue.

As we spoke, I assured him that I believed that the fresh faced youth was doing all he could to make sure that the maintenance policy was being adhered to.

After all I didn’t want to get him in trouble with his boss.

But---a deal is a deal.

The school across the street needed (and needs) to consistently keep up their commitment to keeping the parkway clean.

The next day it was as if magic elves appeared. The walkway was as spiffy and shiny as a sidewalk can get in the city.

When Big Daddy asks the kids over there to jump, the appropriate response is “How high?”

My only question is how long will it be before the maintenance staff forgets and the trash starts piling up again?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stinky Girl Candles---Affordable Luxury

When it happens that I'm over in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago I like to stop in a little store named Tatine.

They make stinky girl candles and all of the accompanying ilk that us broads like to snap up for our homes.

The owner and staff and incredibly helpful and have items at all spectrums of the price range. This is especially helpful to those of use who can't blow hundreds of dollars on home scents and bath oils.

But oh that I did...

Anyhoo---I popped in yesterday and found my newest affordable luxury: Lemongrass coconut scented votives at $1.75 a piece.

Not only do they smell wonderful but the owner makes all of the candles in the basement.

Everyone wins on this one---I'm supporting a locally owned female business; I get to purchase stinky girl candles and don't have to take out a second mortgage; my house smells good but not like every other woman's house that buys a candle from Bath & Body Works or Banana Republic.

Stop by and see the ladies when you get a chance. The holidays are coming and I'm sure some of their wares would make great gifts.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ya'll Gone Up And Done It

Recently I’ve noticed that the parkway across the street was becoming unkempt again.

The trash was starting to pile up and with all of the rain the weeds were moving past my ankles. A sure sign of maintenance dude neglect.

It turns out the school across the street wasn’t keeping up its end of the deal.

Or should I say some of the school’s employees weren’t doing their job.

It’s tough to change people’s priorities. Especially when they think that their responsibilities are encompassed within a fence’s boundaries.

Unfortunately for them I live across the street and I have no problem calling my contact within the administration to let them know what exactly is not being done.

Moreover, the City of Chicago says that whoever owns a piece of property is also responsible for the parkway. To the best of my knowledge, educational institutions are not exempt from this rule.

So I placed a call across the street.

My contact across the street is a freshly scrubbed, bright eyed young man who is an alumnus of the school. They’re big on that wholesome suit & tie, good manners and well rounded individual type of look.

Now I don’t know if it’s the luck of the draw or if it’s because he’s the low man on the totem pole in the office---whatever the case may be, he is blessed with the arduous task of fielding my initial calls.

Even though he has very good manners and would never say so, I’m sure when my name echoes in the halls, a slight chill may run up his spine.

And I’m fairly confident that’s not in a good way.

I left a message for him stating that the yard and clean up work that the school promised to do on a weekly basis wasn’t getting done.

A few hours later he replied by apologizing and reiterating that he would make the appropriate parties aware. He wanted me to give it a few weeks to see if I noticed any changes.

Frankly, I found that to be unacceptable.

The work already wasn’t getting done, why in God’s name would I think that the passage of a few weeks would improve the already shabby service?

I called the fresh faced youth back and told him exactly that.

For the most part I’m a rule and procedures type of broad. I don’t like to intentionally step on toes and go over people’s heads ‘cause it’s just bad form. Nonetheless during the course of our discussion, the youth suggested that I inform the principal of the situation.

I thought that was a smashing idea.

I did sense an edge of frustration in his voice though.

In all honesty I think that he has made every effort to make sure that the lawn and maintenance guys do what they’re supposed to be doing. It seems though that they take what the kid has to say with a grain of salt.

Talk about undermining someone’s authority.

Before I could dash off an e-mail to the principal about the matter, he beat me to the punch and called me at work.


That sweet last gasp of warmth in the air is being chased by fall's impending entrance.

I've already stared to clean out the flower boxes on the back porch and haul summer things down to the basement.

Nonetheless I still wanted to give you a touch of summer to take with you as we all hunker down for the colder months ahead.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Kid On The Block

Depending on how many stories they put on this development, you just may be able to see into my kitchen.

That ad looks mighty slick and fancy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now This Is One Of The Reasons Why I Moved To The South Side, II

One word---Olympics.

Another two words---Olympic Stadium.

The last word---Within walking distance from my door.

Can you imagine if Chicago gets the Olympics? I'm giddy with anticipation!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Farmer's Market

If the falling temperatures didn't let me know summer is over, the news that there's only six weeks left for Chicago's farmer's markets did.

Heavy sighs all the way around.

I now dream of stock piling bread, cheese and organically fed meats in a deep freezer to get me through the winter.

The only problem is I don't have a deep freezer.

Unfortunately condo living and community spaces don't lend themselves to having your own freezer to store away your goodies. There would either have to be a great deal of trust with your neighbors or a padlock involved.

Nothing says "screw you (potentially) thieving bastards" like a big padlock on an appliance.

Not exactly the neighborly vibe I'd like to promote.

Nonetheless visions of frozen bread and good Wisconsin cheese will accompany those of sugar plums and holiday treats this winter.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Now This Is One Of The Reasons Why I Moved To The South Side

Say what you will about those of us who live south of Madison Street.

You may say I'm dreamer but baby I'm not the only one.

I recently stumbled upon the work and musings of a Mr. Lee Bey. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who sees and appreciates the architectural gems on Chicago's south side.

While most of Mr. Bey's work turns a spotlight on these beautiful buildings, the entire city is his beat.

I get to look at significant buildings and get me some education to boot? It appears that the internet can be a learning tool.

Viagra ads, my ass.

And The Winner Is...

I have reached a decision.

The winner is Benjamin Moore's Champion Cobalt.

So it is written, so it shall be done.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dropping The Ball

So let me see if I’m getting this right.

In a February 11, 2004 press release the Honorable Richard M. Daley stated the following:

"By ensuring that only licensed developers can apply for building permits, this ordinance helps improve the quality of building construction,"

And the Residential Developer’s Fact Sheet dated March 15, 2006 also states:

“The Residential Real Estate Developer license must be obtained before owning, operating, conducting, managing, engaging in, maintaining, or carrying on the business of residential real estate developer. The Department of Planning and Development requires that licenses be obtained before residential development projects are submitted for approval to the Plan Commission or Community Development Commission.”

In short a developer is supposed to have their developer’s license in hand prior to applying for any type of permit from the Department of Construction and Permits (DCAP).

Yet somehow my developer doesn’t have this all important license but has still managed to secure construction permits for the 1512-1514 East Marquette development.

So from where I’m sitting DCAP seems to be grossly ignorant of the developer license process.

There’s no other way Mr. Knight could have secured the necessary building permits if DCAP dotted their I’s and crossed their T’s.

Then of course Mr. Knight may have his developer’s license. Though the last time I checked that wasn’t the case but he may have filed all of the paperwork and is on the straight and narrow.

If he’s not and DCAP issued a construction permit anyway, methinks that department just left the City of Chicago wide open for potential liability lawsuits.

I hope all of the work being done in the development is top quality and up to code. ‘Cause if someone is injured from non code compliant or shoddy work, the ensuing legal battle may make the city look really bad.

A big fat payout to grieving relatives may make them look even worse.

I’d hate to have to be the one to explain that to the Honorable Richard M. in the middle of his campaigning for yet another term.

Color Struck

I cannot pick a friggin paint color for my bathroom walls.

While the new shower backsplash looks great, I can't make up my mind. Light or dark? Eggshell or semi gloss? The choices are almost endless.

Based on the picture, what do you think? I'm trying to stay in the blue family.

I think I've ruled out light blues and despite what everyone has been telling me may go for the luxe looking deep blue family.

My theory is it will really make my white tub, toilet and pedestal sink pop.

At least I found a great hexagon white tile for the floor. Not only is it pretty and proportional to the glass mosaic tile of the shower backsplash, I stumbled upon it on the cheap (and I mean cheap) at Home Depot.

Will this bathroom ever get done?

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Take That, City Council

Lord Jesus.

The Honorable Richard M. Daley exercised his first ever veto today.

He did so against the big box ordinance passed by the city council on July 26th.

He has upped the ante in what proves to be a thoroughly entertaining fight between big box retailers, labor unions, Hizzoner & a rebellious city council.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is theatre of the highest magnitude. It don't get no better than this.

You may remember my post about my feelings on this big box brouhaha.

I hypothesize that the drama didn't jump off until Wal-mesee didn't pay the proper respect to the powers that be in our fair city and tried to do an end run around the "Chicago way" of doing business.

Some say that the ordinance is racially motivated as no one raised a peep about big box retailers when they were springing up like mushrooms on the north side but the minute the urban emerging markets were being probed (that's corporate speak for minority neighborhoods) the drama started.

Whether you believe either one, a mixture of the two or have a theory of your own this is gonna get messy.

But the bottom line is a sister still can't get reasonably priced goods and services within walking distance of the flat

I'd like to see the author of the big box ordinance, Alderman Joe Moore, schlep everything he needs to live and function on the bus or in a cart

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Caveat Emptor

Before I resume with the latest twist in the ongoing saga of my developer, let’s pause for a little self help session.

While I’ve focused on my developer in this blog, from what you nice people have been sending me he’s not the only developer executing questionable business and construction decisions.

The way the laws and ordinances in the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago stand any bozo can call him or herself a “developer.”

Unfortunately the onus is on you to do exhaustive due diligence on your developer and the condo development before you sign any contract.

Trust me cats and kittens there are few, if any, protections in the State of Illinois or the City of Chicago for the newly fleeced condo owner.

Lobbying your elected officials will hopefully make that a thing of the past.

Until that great day comes, I’m going to pass along a few tips from my soon to be released “Developer/Condo Checklist.”

That’s only the working title. It will change before I put it out to the masses to be downloaded for a mere $35.

Now granted I’m not reinventing the wheel. What I’m including on this checklist has been in past posts of “I Hate My Developer.”

None of this is any big secret.

With the click of a mouse all of you smart cookies can dig this stuff up for yourselves---for free might I add---and go on your merry way.

If your idea of a good time is going back through hundreds of my posts, please click away.

It has been my experience that even people familiar with the process of selecting a real estate agent, purchasing a condo, finding the best rate for your mortgage and coordinating a move are a little less than familiar on how to see if their developer or their development is on the level.

Unfortunately a sound education in this matter usually comes the hard way.

Payment is tendered in personal frustration and your hard earned cash in the form of special assessments.

If you’re gonna spend thousands of dollars investing in a piece of property, what’s another $35?

But I digress, ladies and gentlemen on to a few selected tips.

Before you put your name on the dotted line of any real estate contract find out the following:

What is the actual legal name of the condominium development?
Who is the developer?
Does the developer have partners?

Take the above information and hit the treasurer trove of governmental websites.

If you live in Illinois has the development been registered with the Secretary of State’s Office? Do a Corp\LLC search and find see what you unearth.

If you live in Cook County you can find out if the developer, any of his or her partners or the development (under it’s registered name with the Secretary of State) has any past or present lawsuits pending. You can find this information by doing a search on the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website.

When you get to the Clerk’s page click “online case info” link on the left hand side of the page, select full electronic docket search and then decide if you’d like to search either the civil, criminal or chancery (foreclosure) division. Then choose if you’d like to search by last name, filing date or case number.

Frankly speaking searching by name has always brought me the best results.

Obviously local laws and the availability of this information on-line will vary. We are fortunate enough in Cook County and in the State of Illinois to be able to access this information at the click of a mouse.

One of the holdups of the checklist is preparing my disclaimer and such legalese for you folks who live outside of Cook County, Illinois.

I want as many people as possible to benefit from my hard won knowledge but I also want to be very specific and clear what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.
It’s all about managing expectations.

If you know where to look and what to look for, most of the information is an open secret that’s just simply waiting for you to come along and take a look.

That’s all of the free nuggets I can reveal without giving away the store.

Hopefully I’ll have a comprehensive and informative product up on this site before Halloween. We’ll see.

Now if you want me to do the work for you, that’s a completely different matter.

However you choose to do it protect your interests concerning your condo, your rights as a consumer and as a soon to be property tax paying member of society---no one else is gonna do it for you.

A little nose poking and question asking will go a long way.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brevity or I Wouldn't Do That If I Were You

If you purchase a condo at 1512-1514 East Marquette you may find yourself in the same situation I’ve been chronicling for the past year.

Despite the fact I’d love to have a loyal reader as a neighbor, I wouldn’t want to put anyone else through the drama.

As of August 31st the building at the above address was granted a construction permit.

From what I understand the permit is supposed to be for “Replacing existing drywall partitions with new.”

The on-line description may have been edited for brevity because that’s the only way to explain way it didn’t mention anything about electrical work for the new central air conditioning units on the roof.

You doubt me? Please look at the realtor’s listing that describes all of the sparkling new amenities that the lucky buyers will be getting once they sign on the dotted line.

The permit’s brevity may have also stopped me from reading about the plumbing and how it’s being brought up to code.

I’m curious to know how the plumbing in a building built before low flow toilets, washers & dishwashers will be able to handle the increased water demands of six residents and their families.

My developer (and the developer of the 1512-1514 Marquette condos) surely will have listed all of this important infrastructure work in the complete permit application, right?

I was also under the impression that when one replaces drywall, that the electrical and plumbing would have to be reviewed as well. ‘Cause how can you tear down drywall and not affect the electrical and plumbing?

I’ll make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed when I file my freedom of information act request to see the full application.

I don’t want to accuse Mr. Knight of actions that he may have already taken.

Moreover, I’m sure he’s also going to replace that woeful back porch.

The big give away ladies and gentlemen on an old and more than likely non-code compliant porch would be the big X’s that form support crosses along the stairways and landings.

If you stand facing the porch and see those big “X’s” where a person can stand on the landing, you might want to ask if the porch will be replaced or if it will be brought up to code?

Now I can’t emphasize this enough so kindly pay attention: If you don’t get a satisfactory answer to the porch question move onto the next condo development.

You can name your first born after me as a small gesture of thanks.

Then of course if you want to come out of pocket for big money for a new code compliant porch some time in the future or face a possible lawsuit from an injury, please be my guest.

Speaking as someone who hasn’t quite paid off her own special assessment for our brand new porches---trust me you want to opt for the former option instead of the later.

Right now I will have to acquaint myself with how the Department of Construction and Permits approves permits for rehabbed condo developments.

Or is it possible that they weren’t given the true scope of the project?

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Let's Get It Sold

It's a sad day for our little slice of heaven.

A hard working, community oriented neighbor has decided to put her place on the market.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I have a---oh how shall I describe it---"fluid" relationship with some of my neighbors.

Sometimes the peace is kept and other times it's not.

More often than not with this particular person we had a lasting peace.

As I stated earlier, she is a hard working neighbor. She understood that owning property meant a little bit more than dropping an assessment check at the treasurer's front door every month.

It's gonna be tough to loose someone like that.

Nonetheless, Mama wants to go so lets get her place sold.

If you know anyone who wants to come on down---and might I add for a reasonable price---send 'em her way.

Tell her Woody sent you.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Bloggers In The Hood

After much procrastination I've finally added the infamous Chikat to my links list on the left hand side of the blog.

While we've chatted back and forth via YoChicago, our respective blogs and e-mail, we have yet to actually lay eyes on each other.

They're still a vodka lemonade waiting for you and the hubby, buttercup. The 97% meets 3% dustup is bound to happen one day.

Who knows, we may have been at some of the same place at one point.

Also give a big Woodlawn "whatup!" to the Militant Monk. Another Woodlawner (Woodlawndian? Woodlawn Pimp? Woodlawnite?) who also blogs about our little piece of paradise.

God love him as he live close to 63rd & Cottage and I don't think I could be brave enough to live over in the real hood.

I live in the faux hood as it's still the south side but you gotta trust me on this----it ain't anywhere near the drama that occurs on 63rd & Cottage. After all I can see a golf course from my balcony.

Everyone introduce themselves and play nice.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Extreme Makeover

Pictures of the shower backsplash in my bathroom before and after it's makeover. Can you believe I got the tile on Ebay?

Obviously I still have to paint but a new floor (doesn't the old one look like ass?) and light fixture (Home Depot standard issue---one word---ghetto) is in the works as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Happy Birthdays

The past few days have delivered a one-two punch in terms of milestones.

I marked another year of existence last Friday and the blog turns one today.

Funny how time flies, eh?

Friday, August 25, 2006


Well the cat was out of the bag.

My developer was rehabbing a building a mere stone’s throw from our development.

As I was later to discover, it was not the only condo project he had done since he finished our conversion a few years ago.

But that’s neither here nor there.

There he was gutting and rehabbing literally in the shadow of my building---and without permits might I add.

I went and checked the city’s permit database for the address and found nothing.

If my memory serves me correctly my developer conceded in the informal hearing last year that this was his first development and therefore he wasn’t aware of all of the details and ordinances that went into the process.

I would suspect that his excuses would wear thin right about now.

Plus I got a copy of the tape-recorded proceedings just so I could make sure that my memory wouldn’t completely fail me.

How in the world could you either not know or “forget” to apply for construction permits on a building rehab?

Lord forbid that the roof above your head, the electricity within your walls and the plumbing that runs through the building would be safe, up to code and given the official stamp of approval by city inspectors.

Having an occupancy permit to ensure that the whole pile of bricks isn’t gonna cave in anytime soon is also helpful.

While I have my theories, I can’t comment on my developer’s state of mind or actions.

The only thing I could do is alert the Lord High Executioner to these latest developments and wait to hear back.