Friday, March 30, 2007

My New Best Friends

It looks like my association isn't the only one who's being (been) shafted.

Apparently some of our north side neighbors who bought into the development at 156 West Superior paid a lot more money for what they deem as questionable work.

Allegedly the developer isn't being very responsive. So they've decided to (legally) take matters into their own hands. They're fighting back with a little website devoted to airing out their problems.

It even has awesome captioned pictures!

Viva La Resistance!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Note

Our door troubles are seemingly resolved---at least for the time being.

After yet another mysterious latch problem and a discussion with a fellow board member who also lives in my building, I posted a note in the foyer.

In short the note said to stop screwing with the latch. It’s a security issue AND if you get caught, you’ll be financially liable for destruction of association property.

To the best of my knowledge, the latch drama has been reduced to zero.

Our lovely door has been in perfect working order ever since.

Apparently secure doors---not tall fences---make good neighbors.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Slow Grind

The city has finally responded to my cab driver complaint I filed earlier in the year. This letter came in the mail on Saturday:

To: The Woodlawn Wonder

Re: Complaint SR Number07-0000XXXX

This letter is an update of the Department of Consumer Services’ investigation of the taxicab, taxicab driver or taxicab company you reported for investigation.

Based on your complaint affidavit and the Department of Consumer Server (“the Department”) investigation, the Department filed charges against the taxicab, taxicab driver or taxicab company for violations of the Municipal Code of Chicago at the City of Chicago’s Central Administrative Hearing Facility.

If the Respondent(s), the taxicab, taxicab driver, or taxicab company, demand a trial the Department will notify you of the scheduled trial date and time. You will be notified by mail, phone call and or e-mail or the trial date, time and location. Your testimony is essential for an effective prosecution of the Department’s case. You will have the option to testify by phone or in person at the trial.

If the case does not progress to a trial you will still be notified of the outcome of the Administrative hearing proceedings. Possible other outcomes are that the Respondent(s) plead liable to the charges OR that a Default Order is entered against the Respondent(s) for failing to appear at the initial hearing.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Please reference the above listed complaint SR number in any correspondence with this Department.

It sounds like someone is about to get sat in the corner for not playing fair. Updates will be forthcoming.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Door

Someone is being an asshole.

Someone is being an asshole and pissing me off.

For the past two months, the lock on our front entrance has either been disabled or not working properly.

As a result the door won’t latch and is left unlocked for days at a time. Oh yeah, you heard me correctly---days at a time.

Now I love Woodlawn, but there is a reason why we have locks on our doors.

As a security conscious type of broad this hasn’t been sitting too well with me.

All it takes is a woman with cold feet or some other nefarious individual and next thing you know we are in the middle of a “situation.”

And when I say “situation” I mean break in or other types of drama.

Now I don’t know about what’s happening in your lives, but I have plenty of shit to tend to all of my own, I don’t need additional drama.

How do I know that someone is intentionally vandalizing the lock?

The locksmith paid us a visit on Monday and put brand new hardware on our door. We even got a nice new handle on the inside that says “pull.”

Tuesday everything was fine.

Tuesday night at 11:00 PM when I came in, everything was fine.

Wednesday morning the lock wasn’t latching again.

Apparently we have gremlins as one of their legion came and unscrewed the lock hardware.

Now either someone has a key to our crib and is fucking with us or someone wants to make entrance to our building accessible to God knows who for whatever reason.

I have very strong suspicious on who’s doing this but I’ll have to let that sleeping dog lie until I can get the proof.

Not only is this unsafe for everyone who lives in the building but it’s costing the association a fortune in locksmith and handyman bills.

Someone has a funky beat down coming.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Familiarizing herself with her surroundings, Patty Cake went to a few local grocery stores in search of a place to pick up a few items if she ever ran out of something.

She was amazed by the lack of nutritious food.

She saw no bottled water, fresh fruit or vegetables----milk that wasn’t flavored?


“Woody all of the food is shit. It's high calorie, high fat junk food. There’s nothing in these stores to eat.”

I just looked at her.

What was I supposed to say?

The ‘Cake lives in a food desert.

The nearest “real” grocery store that I could think of is The Jewel at the corner of 76th & Stony Island.

Note: a “real” grocery store is a store with fresh produce, meat and milk. Not one who’s entire shelf space is stocked with flaming hot cheetos, yoo-hoo and hog head cheese.

The Jewel was over 12 blocks west as the crow flies.

Now for Patty Cake that isn’t a big deal as she has a car and can strap Baby Cake in the car seat and go about her business.

For those of us who don’t have a car or a willing chauffeur, public transportation is the only other option.

Let me tell you that keeping your perishables cold while waiting 30 minutes on a bus during a sweltering day can be a bit challenging.

Good luck toting around over $200 worth of food to the crib with sketchy characters mulling around.

But for God’s sake protect the beer at all costs.

Now remember that’s if you can plan a trip to the nearest grocery store and have the wherewithal to drag your groceries home.

At times, some people (read: me) pay for taxicabs or the store may have an in house livery service that ferries patrons back home for a modest fee. Unfortunately due to insurance reasons most of the larger chain stores have done away with this time honored tradition.

So what’s a person to do when they live in a food desert or they’re older with mobility problems or they just live too far away from the nearest grocery store?

They rely on the small local stores that thrive in both my and The ‘Cake’s neighborhood.

In turn their captive patronage is greeted by inadequately stocked, unattractive stores that do little to nurture the neighborhood literally or financially.

Now it’s one thing to charge three times the price for an item and justify it by saying that you can’t purchase at the same rates like the large chain stores, but it’s quite another to take all of your profits out of the community.

You make money off of the hoody hoo but can’t sponsor a Little League Team?

I’m sorry I didn’t mean to go all Marcus Garvey on you kids---I’ll get off my soap box now.

Oft times the unfortunate fact of living in a food desert is that the small independent grocery stores are usually owned by people whose only connection to the communities that they serve is a business license.

Let’s not even get started on the quality of the “food.”

Methinks if The ‘Cake runs out of milk for the baby, it just might be worth the investment in a dairy cow.

At least she’ll know the milk is fresh.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Ms. White Folks

Lord Jesus protect us. There’s a new white girl in town.

Patty Cake has moved to South Shore with her man and her baby.

She was formerly a Hyde Parker but she and her man took the plunge and became home owners with the arrival of the little one.

Loving a good deal and not afraid to be a minority in her own neighborhood, she and her family moved to 76th & Essex.


Child, please.

Patty Cake can literally roll with anyone. She is one of the few white people that I know that will actually live in a mostly black neighborhood and not think that it was odd.

Hell, Patty Cake might even have an afro pick somewhere on her dresser.

While she’s a down ass broad, don’t mistake her coolness for either liberal guilt or an attempt to launch a career as a white rapper. She knows she’s white.

No disaffected speech, no baggy clothes and thank God she hasn’t french braided her hair.

She keeps it real Patty Cake style.

Last Sunday another mutual friend Nasir and I stopped by the Cake’s house for a chat and to see the new digs.

Unfortunately we dropped by too late to see the baby but Patty Cake’s fish out of water stories did not disappoint.

“You know Woody the kids have kind of adopted me around here and shepherded me through these first few months.”

“Ya don’t say?”

Did I mention that the ‘Cake is an educator so she has a natural rapport with the pre-teen set.

“Yeah, they’ve told me to stay out of the Family Dollar and off of Hamilton street.”

Now I don’t know jack about the South Shore neighborhood so I generally accepted this as wise decisions from the tykes.

“It’s like my neighbors have adopted me.”


“Why do you think that is?”

“To keep you safe. Everyone knows if something happens to you and that baby the police will be all over this neighborhood like stink on shit.”

Patty Cake shot me a quizzical look

“Heavy police presence will disturb the ebb and flow of the streets. No one will make any money. It’s just easier to keep you and the baby safe.”

She then told of how the older women across the street advised her to make a small slice in her city and license plate sticker.

‘Cause everyone knows that if you put them in you window or on you plates intact they’ll both be gone in less than 24 hours.

Well everyone knew that except the ‘Cake.

God bless her.

She also told of the helpful police officers and random people who stop and ask her if she wants a ride back to her car or if she needs any help.

They stare in amazement when she tells them that she lives in the hoody hoo.

As our conversation wore on and we talked on various subjects, Patty Cake would remark: That’s exactly what the ladies across the street said!

I told her that I’ve been at this black thing for a couple of years and might have learned a thing or two.

Nonetheless she was perplexed at why her repeated calls to her management company to fix the front gate had fallen on deaf ears.

I told her the answer was simple, “They think you’re black.”

I hated to tell her that in 2007 laws have changed but many things are still the same.

I further stated that they either think you’re black or that you’re not a very respectable white person.

“Why would they think that?”

“Cause what type of white person would live in a neighborhood with all of these niggers?” I replied.

You could hear Patty Cake and Nassir suck the air out of the room as my last comment caught them off guard

“I’m just telling you how it works ‘Cake. Your best bet is to take you and your baby down to the management office and present yourself.”

“Why bring the baby?”

“To show that your living at 76th and Essex is not the result of a mixed marriage. In my opinion they’ll take you more seriously if they know an honest to god white couple with a child lives in the development.”

Such is the state of things in Chicago these days.

“Cake, it doesn’t phase me anymore when people meet me after they talk to me on the phone---they’re totally expecting a white woman. I just use it to my advantage.”

Speaking the King’s English is not necessarily a bad thing.

When I mentioned to my friend Rita that I was in her old stomping grounds and told her where I was she whipped around and said, “Why were YOU there?”

“Visting a friend”

“I didn’t know you rolled like that over in Terror Town.”

“Oh no Rita, this a friend who just bought a condo.”

“At 76th and Essex? Are you bullshitting me?”

“Nope…And she’s white.”

“What did she do that for?”

I generally took this as a sign that perhaps Patty Cake hadn’t moved to the Gold Coast. From my limited observation I can tell you that Jamba Juice has yet to scout locations close to her house.

In parting I told her that I would visit more often as her everyday life would be better than any admission based entertainment currently offered in the city limits.

Think about it, Patty Cake sitting on a folding chair eating watermelon (no, I’m NOT making this up) with mature black women on a hot summer’s day.

Pass the salt, child. Pass the salt.

Head Scratcher

As most of you already know, the aldermanic races are long over.

While my alderman retained her seat, 20th ward alderman Arenda Troutman was trounced by her opponent Willie B. Cochran. Personally speaking that should have come as no surprise to anyone.

Nonetheless I find it highly coincidental that ground has been broken for what I strongly suspect will be another new condo development on Dorchester.

If you’ve been keeping count, that’s three---count ‘em---three new developments on Dorchester between 63rd and Marquette

Interesting timing, just dumb luck or fate? You decide.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Neville Chamberlain

There is peace in our time---at least for now.

I’m sure you kids were wondering what exactly happened with all of that unmixing business.

After all of that back and forth the bottom line is that my neighbor and I went ahead and got our electrical lines straightened out---I’m the only one paying for and using my power.

The power to our tier had to be shut off temporarily but to my knowledge no one else in the building was permanently affected by our decision.

While I’ve noticed very little difference service wise, my first floor neighbor is happy to report that for the first time in almost four years she can now run her washer, dishwasher AND microwave at the same time.

That sound you hear is my neighbor clicking her heels.

Hopefully my electric bill will drop dramatically. Only time will tell.

So currently there is no drama, no ping-pong e-mails and hard looks given in the hallway.

Things seem kinda normal.

Then of course we do have a condo board meeting tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

H&R Black, Redux

I am woman enough to admit when I’m talking out of my ass.

The “I Got People” campaign by tax powerhouse H&R Block was not directly aimed at black people or African American neighborhoods.

Everyone in our great nation got the benefit of having “people”.

I jumped the gun and ran with that one. My apologies to the cats at Block and their advertising peeps.

Now that we’re all friends again, perhaps you can answer what’s up with those rapid refund loans?

And while I’m thinking about it, have you kids taken some of that loot you make off of the multiple areas you serve and oh, I don’t know----reinvest it back in those communities?

Since I already made one assumption I’m sure there are college scholarships, a neighborhood center or a little league sponsorship that I may not be aware of as well?

I’m just asking.

E-mail me via the link on my profile, H&R Block. Give me the 411 on your community service and outreach.

I always like to spread the news about those who do good in the ‘hood.