Friday, March 28, 2008


I’m a dumb ass.

At least that’s what the University of Chicago’s HR automated program says.

When I went to register for the University’s internal temporary admin program, I was told that I didn’t meet the basic qualifications.

Oh. My. God.

Per the University’s HR website, basically qualified is defined as possessing the knowledge, skills, education and experience listed at required on the job posting.

This is the job posting:

High school diploma or GED required; Bachelor's degree preferred; advanced degree preferred; previous secretarial experience required; ability to effectively communicate verbally and in writing required; meticulous attention to detail required; ability to multi-task required; ability to work with confidential information discreetly required; ability to work calmly and quickly in a fast paced environment required; ability to work under pressure with frequent interruptions required; experience with Word and Excel required; experience with Access and PowerPoint preferred.

Now I wonder what about my application said “loser.”

I graduated high school---college even.

I’m not quite sure if a blog qualifies as being to effectively communicate but people seem to be able to understand what I write. I also happen to also speak the “King’s English.”

Attention to detail? Multi-task? Discretion? The ability to work calmly and quickly in a fast paced environment? Work under pressure with frequent interruptions?

Not only does that define my entire adult working life but did I mention I’m witnessing in Hyde Park? Hell, if keeping a tables of diverse ages, races, socio-economic classes happy doesn’t provide a good example of those requirements, I don’t know what does.

Note: Waitressing is not as easy as it looks.

Experience with MS Word and Excel----check and check.

The only thing that I can think of that may have dinged me is previous secretarial experience required.

While I’ve been an admin before it isn’t on my resume as it was in the early ‘90’s.

I think I’m going to pay a personal visit to the HR next week. Perhaps if they get a look at me I’ll be deemed worthy.

Plus I gotta know what disqualified me via the automated program.

Kindly excuse me. I have to open the restaurant for the lunch rush in a few hours.

That is if I can get my limited abilities in check so I can schlep to work without getting lost.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Makin' It Rain

I realized that it’s been awhile since I’ve reported on the antics of my favorite developer, Carlton Knight.

Last September, I wrote a post about a building that’s being converted by Mr. Knight needed major corrective work, despite the fact it was currently on the market.

According to DCAP an application was submitted to replace an existing porch.

I think any rational person can agree that it was a step in the right direction.

But that little voice inside my head told me there had to be more to this story. So I took a little trip down the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office to dig up any possible paperwork.

Let me tell you folks, that was the best $1.75 I ever spent on a bus ride. The court papers did not disappoint.

So I don’t bore you I’ll cite a few samplings from the 27 page filing:

“Defendants Carlton Knight and the 1512-1514 E. Marquette LLC (‘The LLC’) are the developers of the subject property.”

“Beginning on or about January 2006, Defendants Carlton Knight and 1512-1514 E. Marquette converted the 6 unit apartment building that is the subject property to condominiums. That conversion required extensive renovations.”

“Defendants Carlton Knight, the Trust, and the LLC financed the renovations with a construction loan valued at $1,202,000, which included approximately $600,000 for the acquisition of the property.”

“Defendant Carlton Knight applied for several permits for the property. Defendant Carlton Knight failed to secure a certificate of occupancy for the property.”

The best part comes in the following eight counts the city alleges against Mr. Knight:

1. Failure to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.
2. 56 separate building code violations.
3. Fines aren’t enough motivation to correct these issues, the city wants to building put into a receivership.
4. Making false statements of material fact.
5. Failure to obtain a general contractor’s license.
6. Failure to obtain a residential real estate developer’s license.
7. Failure to obtain a business license as a general contractor.
8. Failure to obtain a business license as a residential real estate developer.

My particular favorite is in count 4 (false statements of material fact) the city alleges:

“On August 18th, 2006, Carlton Knight applied for a permit for work being done on the subject property with the Department of Construction and Permits.”

“The application stated that the project was valued at under $10,000. The true value of the project was over $400,000.”

“Carlton Knight failed to disclose the true costs of work undertaken to rehabilitate the property when he falsified the amount of the rehabilitation project, and as a result violated 1-21-010 (2006).”

“Carlton Knight has violated and continues to violate section 1-21-010 of the general provisions of the municipal code by his continued failure to disclose the true costs of the work undertaken as required by DCAP and his knowingly falsifying his original application for a permit.”

I know each and every one of your are shocked by all of these allegations.

And just so you don’t die of curiosity, a few of the 56 separate building code violations range from the condition of the back porch, to inadequate lighting at an exterior entrance to the basement.

I cant imagine why the city would have a problem with various electrical code issues and failure to arrange mechanical ventilation or warm air heating system final inspection when the work was completed---do you?

I have to give the Department of Buildings and the Coporation Counsel mad props as they just seemed to finally inspect and document everything I’ve been writing about for the past two and a half years.

Only time will tell if the repairs are made or if Mr. Knight squeaks through another loophole.

Methinks the city just “made it rain” all over shady bootleg developers.

'Bout time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Know Your Role

A few weeks ago, I went to the Understanding Your Role in Gentrification forum held at the University of Chicago during “Displacement Week.”

Naturally I was curious about one’s role in gentrification since it’s a much discussed and vilified topic these days. Since I’m a condo owner and by definition a gentrifier in Woodlawn, I had to stick my head in and see what all of this was about.

Perhaps I was slightly disappointed because of the un-preparedness of the panel.

Perhaps I was slightly disappointed because of the sparse turnout.

But one thing struck me as the discussion progressed, I’d bet you a million dollars that you’d never see a group of educated successful Black people beat themselves up over gentrifying a neighborhood.

Some say gentrifying, I say improving.

The panel was in the process of developing a brochure about responsible gentrifying. There seemed to be a lot of hand wringing by some people about gentrification in general.

People in attendance and the panel realized that good intentions and your personal budget often collide. As a result of finances and due to some people’s personal living preferences they have to (or choose to) live in “emerging neighborhoods.”

That’s a nice way of saying minority neighborhoods

I think it’s awfully conscious of the people at the forum to be concerned about being responsible gentrifies.

But as far as I’m concerned, it’s called being a good neighbor.

And as we all know, you can’t teach consideration, manners or good taste.

Well maybe you can try.

What I think the young people in that room may not have considered that change is a constant in Chicago neighborhoods.

Humbolt Park wasn’t always Hispanic. Woodlawn wasn’t always Black. Some parts of Old Town and River North used to be the “red light district.”

Obviously block busting, redlining, overt racism and down right ignorance played a huge role in the changing of the guard in the residential areas.

As those of us in the Chicagoland area know, it’s not the neighborhood but who lives in it that drives how it’s perceived and the services it receives.

Hey that rhymed.

In a sort of neighborhood circle of life, older neglected neighborhoods are bound to be rediscovered by those seeking beautiful, architecturally interesting buildings.

Not to mention accessibility to public transportation and green spaces.

Older neighborhoods in the city are experiencing a renaissance. Naturally, gentrication will follow.

And while many opinions will continued to be expressed about the re-emergence of urban neighborhoods, a few things continue to ring true.

People who want affordable accessible homes aren’t the problem. They shouldn’t be treated as such.

If you don’t want the flavor of your neighborhood to change, purchase it. Short of eminent domain or a federal injunction, not much can be done to take it away from you.

It never hurts to have a little diversity in your ’hood. While I don’t think the Germans are on there way back to Humbolt Park, it wouldn’t hurt to have a tauqeria next door to a beer hall.

And to my fellow forum attendees that happen to be white a small aside:

You don’t need a manual on how to be a good neighbor. In fact, I think it’s somewhat ridiculous to feel guilty or apologize for simply being who you are.

With racial divisions being very much in the news these days, it’s great to see dialogues getting started.

But unnecessary contrition isn’t needed.

Unless there’s 40 acres and a mule involved, I think your potential new neighborhoods will survive your arrival.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Aside

I knew it I had to go out and get a job---any job---when I couldn’t qualify for CEDA utility assistance.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program---and frankly I wasn’t until recently----CEDA administers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The program pays a month’s worth of utility bills for individuals.

The trick is to qualify for the program.

One of my former co-workers told me about CEDC in a recent conversation. She applied and they paid her utility bills so she thought I should give it a shot.

The big difference in our lives is that she has a child and that I don’t.

You would think that this wouldn’t make a difference but according to “the guidelines” because I have no children my unemployment means that I make way too much money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

My unemployment---which has since ended by the way----that piddly $654 bi-weekly check meant that I made too much money.

Are you fucking kidding me?

A single person who makes a touch over $13,500 can’t qualify for almost any type of assistance.

That’s when I felt like a Detroit auto worker from the 80’s.

The funny thing is that for those of us who lived through that time, mistakenly thought that if we kept out of trouble and worked hard we wouldn’t be caught in a changing economy.

We weren’t like our some of our parents and grandparents, we went to college. We learned how to play the game.

Apparently that wasn’t (and isn’t) the case.

So to quote the film---Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to work I go.

Poof! I’m a server.

Talk about reinventing yourself.

Since I’ve started training and actually picking up shifts as a server (waitress) I wanted to take a few moments to let you all in on a few secrets:

Those Hyde Parkers/U of C people aren’t so bad after all. In fact, quite a few have helped a sister stack her paper.

If you come in with a group, run me ragged and then insist on splitting the check 15 different ways I won’t like you. And yes, I expect an additional tip on top of the 18% gratuity that’s added onto the check for large groups. Motherfuckers.

I so love the people who serve me at my regular watering holes. I always prided myself on being a good patron but now I truly understand their pain.

Speaking of pain, my feet feel like they don’t belong to me.

You have no idea how extremely tired I am. But I will build a bridge and get over myself.

Things will get better I’ll revisit this and write about my serving life in a few weeks. While I rarely wrote about my past employers, it might be a little different with this one.

But as you can assume, slinging drinks and food on the south side is a blog within itself. There are so many stories just begging to be told.

I’m just not sure if I’m the one to tell them at this point.

I won’t tell you where I work but if you find me and ask me if I’m the Woodlawn Wonder, I won’t lie to you.

Naturally, you’ll leave a big fat tip, right?

Speaking of people who have a story to tell and live on the south side, let me reintroduce you to the lovely Erin of

She and a group of my west Woodlawn dwelling neighbors met out for drinks a few months ago and while we haven’t seen each other since, we continue to cyber stalk each other.

Her blog is quite funny and the tale of how she met her husband (Portly Jew indeed) is a modern Chicago love story.

BTW, she wants a baby and just turned 26. These are just a few facinating things you'll find out about Erin via her blog.

26? Isn't she still a damn baby herself?

She's a ballsy, stand up broad and despite the fact I barely know her I like the cut of her gib.

Sit down and stay awhile at her blog. I’m sure she’d like to see you.

Just don’t continuously ask to borrow things.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to bed to catch up on my sleep.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Over---For Now

Mt. Carmel finally picked up the trash on the north parkway yesterday.

It's amazing how good the 'hood can look when the sidewalks aren't awash in Remy bottles.

I've been so busy with the new waitressing gig that I've barely had time to notice. Let me tell you slinging drinks and grub isn't as easy as you would think.

Luckily for me, I was reminded about the trash everytime I left to go to work.

So the north parkway is clean---for now.

I wonder if Mt. Carmel (and their landscape service) will step up and clean without prompting or will this be a continuing point of contention.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Trying To Do Right

I regularly check the stats for I Hate My Developer.

While I wrote a post some time ago about Mike Holmes, I continue to get traffic to the blog based on a Mike Holmes search string. You’d be surprised at how many people search to see if Mike Holmes is married.

He is a tasty piece. Trust me, I get the interest

Roughly two weeks ago I was checking the stats for the blog when I ran across the following search string in the visitor activity log: hate my school i want every kid there dead

It stopped me cold.

My mind went in a million different places. What should I do? Should I notify the authorities? Am I paranoid?

With all the school shootings at both Northern Illinois and Virginia Tech, I think the red flag goes up when anyone starts shooting off their mouth about----well----shooting.

I wrestled with what to do for two days. If I can prevent someone else from mourning for their child, I'm all in.

In the end, I didn’t want to have any deaths on my conscious. I decided to notify the school district of the city and state where the query originated.

You guys aren’t completely anonymous when you come in to check out my little blog.

This is what I sent:

Good Morning,

In light of the recent campus shootings at Northern Illinois University, I thought it might be wise to make you aware of a recent hit I saw in the visitor activity log of my blog. Frankly I was a little disturbed when I saw the search string. While wrestling if I should or should not send this e-mail, I reasoned that it's better to be over cautious than ignore a possible sign.

The following entry was received on 2/25:
Referring Link hate my school i want every kid there dead
Host Name
IP Address
Country United States
Region New York
City xxxxxx
ISP xxxxx
Returning Visits 0
Visit Length 0 seconds
Browser MSIE 7.0
Operating System Windows XP
Resolution 1024x768
Javascript Enabled

Navigation Path
Date Time WebPage
25th February 2008 14:25:26 hate my school i want every kid there dead

I'm not sure if the sender is even a school aged child or if they even attend a public school in your school district. My intent is not to cause unnecessary worry but if the IP address can be traced, hopefully the author of this string, if a student, can receive the help that he or she may need.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


The Woodlawn Wonder

Ooooh Whee…

Did I anticipate them shutting down the entire school system of this little hamlet in New York state? Did they do it? You bet your ass they did.

Not only did two Chicago Police show up on my doorstep to ask me a few questions but I received e-mails from the hamlet’s police AND the New York State police.

I just wanted to make sure that a disaster was averted. I didn’t mean to rattle everyone’s cage.

Moreover, if a young person could get the help that they needed all’s the better.

Shit, if I shot everyone in junior high and high school that was mean to me I’d be under the jail.

Hell for that matter, if I went off the deep end every time drama popped off during the last two years I’d be sitting on death row.

Blogging, gardening and normal coping mechanisms help me relieve stress.

Unfortunately some people in our society think that the business end of gun will put an end to all of their problems. When in fact, it simply creates so many others.

Luckily, the young person was located and explained that the search string was a result of a very bad day at school. The officer who explained the situation stated that the young person gets bullied and isn’t very social.

It should also serve as a warning to those who bully. One day an ill placed gesture or deed may result in someone being very upset with you.

And when I say very upset, I mean get a gun upset.

Not only are manners a good thing to practice but one day they very well may save your life.

Thank God the young person is getting the help they need.

And I can sleep at night.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


It’s official, the mighty have fallen.

How did I come to this conclusion?

As I was sitting in the Bennigans on Michigan Avenue drinking a green Miller Lite, eating one of the worst hamburgers I’ve ever have (that beef tasted like shit), listening to “What Time Is It?” from the High School Musical 2 soundtrack; I wondered how I was going to make ends meet on a possible $13.00 an hour admin temp job.

I know, cue the violins.

For those of you who don’t know me, I rarely if ever go to chain restaurants, I only drink bad beer at sporting events and my taste for beef has definitely been through an upgrade.

Do not get me started this High School Musical foolishness.

While I know in the scheme of things this isn’t on the scale of calling in the United Nations but I was having one of those days.

Earlier I had gone and registered with a admin temp agency.

My rationale is that the waitressing job wouldn’t provide enough income to keep the household bills paid so I had to have another stream of income.

It’s a touch demoralizing being told you’re not worth $14.00 an hour because your MS Word test scores aren’t up to par.

But at least I can take comfort that my filing and basic office skills scores tested off the charts.

As of yesterday it became obvious that there wouldn’t be many more eyebrow waxes, manicures and pedicures.

Hell, it’s bad enough you can zest citrus fruit with my heels----must I look like Ernest Borgnine about the brows?

Jesus take the wheel.

So it is with a sense of irony that I was in my usual swanky watering hole a few weeks ago when I saw this mouth watering man sitting in the seat I like to sit in at the far end of the bar.

Honestly, he was something to see.

Many people who go to this place are somewhat full of themselves.

Present company excluded, of course.

Captain of the universe types who command all that they see and make a lot of money doing so.

They all just don’t happen to be eye candy.

But this guy was not only handsome but seemed down to earth and had very good posture.

That’s when I took a closer look.

He was well dressed but didn’t have on an expensive suit. He was at a bar but was drinking orange juice. And he had an earpiece coming out of his ear.

Holy shit, he’s someone’s bodyguard.

I scanned the room and noticed other clean cut looking, ramrod straight looking types at the entrance and in another corner.

I had been to that bar and the adjoining hotel multiple times when dignitaries, athletes and movie stars alike wandered those halls and I’ve never seen that type of security.

Who the hell needs that type of protection?

Another scan of the room answered my question.

I already liked Oprah but I really must commend her for her excellent choice in security eye candy.

I know this unemployment foolishness won’t last but it’s odd where you take your inspiration.

Mine is to one day to be able to afford good looking men to protect me.