Thursday, July 31, 2008

2008 Version

A lot of things got sacrificed this year due to unemployment but the garden wasn't one of them. Don't worry kids, I caught the end of the stock sales in mid June and put both the back and front gardens down for a steal.


We all have little things that keep us sane and grounded; gardening just happens to me mine. I shudder to think of the bundle of joy I'd be without watering and deadheading flowers.

Despite the fact it went down pretty late in the season, I think everything has grown in nicely.

For your viewing pleasure---the back porch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Who in their right mind would allow me to voice my opinions on the radio?

Hey it's not Oprah, but it's a start.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Report

Gainful employment has rendered me able to get back digging through my developer’s court records.

Funny how not worrying about money frees you to pursue other interests.

And as you all know, Mr. Knight’s legal predicaments happens to be one of mine.

In an earlier post, I detailed the initial paperwork of the lawsuit filed by Inland Bank and Trust against Carlton Knight for $1,120,000.

At the time I first viewed the court papers in December of last year, Mr. Knight had fought the lender’s attempt to have the property put into receivership.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with receivership it’s when “a creditor can enforce security against a company's assets in an effort to obtain repayment of the secured debt.”

In other words a receiver “distributes the proceeds to creditors and can also complete the administration of the estate.”

Or at least that’s what Wikipedia says.

According to papers obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County that’s exactly what happened.

The first receiver’s report reads like a primer for mismanaging a rental property. Out of 40 units the receiver said that 14 units were “nearly uninhabitable,” 7 were in “inhabitable but in poor condition” and 20 are in “reasonable condition.”

Oh yeah, if the number 14 + 7 + 20 don’t equal 40 it’s because one of the units was used as an onsite property management office.

The report further states that “poor conditions stem mostly from damaged seals along windows/doors that allowed water to get under the tile and carpet and mold in the walls, damaged/broken appliances, damaged cabinets, broken sinks, etc.”

I wonder if this is the “hands on, proactive management philosophy” that Mr. Knight espouses on his website?”

Again the report states that 20 of the 41 units are unoccupied and that the vacant units are “frequently vandalized and the doors are kicked in.”


“It appears that the portions of the structural features (masonry, walls, parking areas, etc.) are in fair condition while other features, such as roofs, exterior decks and stairs on the 15144 building are in poor to very poor condition Additional items needing attention include boarded up windows/patio doors, broken doors/locks, heaters, backed up sewers, missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, thermostats and other items. “

Broken heaters? Backed up sewers? Missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?

Those seem like slum conditions to me.

I’m also curious to know why a lender would make such a substantial loan on a property in poor condition. I doubt that a property could have gone so far south in only four years.

Doesn’t anyone do their homework before handing out over a million dollars?

Then of course I apparently I didn’t do mine before I signed on the dotted line so there you go.

“Preliminary estimates for building repairs amount to $175,000 - $210,000 with a majority of the costs for the roofs and stairs/decks.”

Well that’s what the report says according to the court papers. Don’t act like I just went out and made this stuff up.

But wait there’s more---at the time of the report the first installment of the 2006 property taxes had not been paid.

“The current amount due for all of the 2006 real estate taxes including penalties associated with the 1st installment is $49,567.96.”

So let’s sum it up----half the units are unoccupied, the property was (is?) in severe disrepair and the property taxes for 2006 were overdue.

Do not make me share the samplings of the tenant maintenance surveys.

I can sum it up in one word---chilling.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's Almost Done

Mt. Carmel is getting close to completing their turf installation. I have to say that it looks really good---very high end.

Friday, July 25, 2008


A few pictures of a lovely Dorchester garden to start your weekend off right.

Happy Friday!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Here I Go Again

I went out last night to some of my regular haunts.

Hell, I just secured regular employment so I think I’m due for a little celebrating.

Like most Chicagoans out on Friday night, I made a late night food run to McDonalds.

I hailed a cab---cab 6215---heading south on Clark Street with the intent of going home.

Unfortunately for me, my driver must have missed that part in taxi 101 where he takes me to where I want to go.

Now I’d tell you his name but he wouldn’t reveal his name and he was a little less forthcoming about taking his hand from over his taxi license.

Nonetheless---the drama jumped off when I gave him my address and wanted to go home.

Immediately he told me that he had no gas.

I replied, “No worries, go ahead and find some gas.”

He pulled into the BP station at Wabash & Roosevelt.

At least he was heading south which was a step in the right direction.

That’s when he dropped the bomb.

“You’re gonna have to pre pay your fare.”

I started to get that old familiar feeling.

Why do I keep on running into cabbies that won’t take me home?

Naturally, 911 was contacted.

And like the last time, the police took the side of the cabbie.

At least this time they seemed sympathetic but the result was still the same.

The cab driver told them that I because I was on the phone talking to someone about the situation, that he “Didn’t feel comfortable driving me.”

Implying that I was setting him up for some type of misfortune.

I explained to Officers Evans and Lee (Beat 133) that I simply wanted to go home and when I gave him the address of where I was going, all of the problems started.

First the no gas story, then the demand for prepayment---he clearly didn’t want to take me to my destination which is a violation of the municipal code.

If my memory is correct, the officers said that they couldn’t make him take me anywhere and that this was a civil matter.


They suggested that I get out and take another cab.

I got out and walked away but not before getting the bright idea to turn back and use the camera option on my cell phone. I have a picture of the placard that faces
the customer in the back seat but not much else.

It seems the driver was a little camera shy.

So here I go again.

I’ll file another complaint and wait till it grinds its way through the Department of Consumer Services.

All I wanted to do was go home.

A simple request, really. Why do some people have to make it so hard?

When It Rains, It Pours

...I finaly got a job.

That sound you hear is my credit card companies popping champagne corks.

Details to follow.

Praise Jesus.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And I Thought I Was Pissed…

Every time I turn around I continue to get love from the blogosphere.

This time it comes from a similarly themed blog named

Oooh whee----Mr. Thomas Doyle is one angry condo purchaser. He’s one pissed off brother.

And he’s my new idol.

Not only is he fighting the good fight against his developer, but his developer Bryton Development LLC and it’s principal Kevin Bryar is suing him for defamation.

Defamation----that gets me kinda hot.

Now I’ve been through Mr. Doyle’s blog and I see a great many similarities in our experiences and I feel for him

Beating your head against the wall when it comes to this condo thing ain’t no joke.

Questionable construction quality and apathetic neighbors will drive you to drink.

You went ahead and took the plunge and took part in the American Dream and threw down a chunk of money to purchase your own home.

I was shitty when I didn’t get my full condo value for my paltry $125,000.

So I get that Mr. Doyle, also know as Truth In Advertising, is beyond incensed where his $390,000 is concerned.

Personally speaking, I’d launch a full scale war if that type of cheddar was involved.

So I say to Mr. Doyle and those of you who may follow in our steps, call it like you see it----but with caution.

Documentation, documentation, documentation.

Let me make myself abundantly clear----make sure you can document your claims.

Oh yeah, no matter how tempted you are to call the people you write about names and offer your opinion, resist.

Well, mostly. Sometimes you have to slip in a "shifty" here and a "scumbag" there to make your point.

Yeah, I name my developer and write about Mt. Carmel but majority of my posts are based in fact and can be verified by court documents or pictures.

My posts about random neighbors and the Jenkins Boys notwithstanding.

Note: Woody + Cell phone camera = trouble. I’m a picture snappin’ broad. Don’t do anything dirty, I will put your shit on blast.


For those of you who have been reading from the beginning you’ll remember that at first I didn’t name names---it took quite a while before Mr. Knight’s name was mentioned. I didn’t even refer to Mt. Carmel by name until earlier this year.

My intent in starting my blog was two fold---As a form of therapy and to inform others of some of the pitfalls on condo home ownership.

Everything else just kinda fell into place.

But as you all know egregious acts call for egregious actions. Hence names were named.

But through it all I adhered to my number one rule---be able to prove it through documentation.

Ladies and gentlemen, avail yourself of secrets hiding in plain sight. The freedom of information act was made to uncover potential deception.

Or at the very least be able to prove a pattern of behaviors that will lend credibility to any future acqusations you may make.

Ladies and gentlemen those government links on the left side aren’t there because I needed space filler.

Hell, I think that the kids at the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office almost know me by name.

I find most if not all of my documentation right there.

You’d be surprised what you can find in legal proceedings in the Cook county court system.

Actually, you’d be surprised at what you can find when you start leafing through bankruptcy filings at the federal building.

But I’m sure you get the point.

It’s all right in front of you. Dig through, make copies and factually post your findings. Throw in your voice and you have a blog.

Now I’m not sure how this brouhaha is gonna turn out for Mr. Doyle.

But I would think that if he can properly document past behaviors and the current situation, he may stand a chance of defeating this lawsuit.

What do I know, I’m not a lawyer (even though I know an ass load of them).

This has all of the makings of a possible 1st amendment test case.

Time will tell if I’m right.

But I’ll tell you this; I’m running down to the clerk’s office tomorrow to get the 411. I’ll be the one at the copy machine.

Progress In Pictures, Part 2

More from the Mt. Carmel turf installation project.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ms. Viola

It’s rare that I meet a person and automatically feel their goodness.

Perhaps you could argue that people will rise or fall to your expectations; if you look for the worst in people, that’s what you’ll find.

Or you could argue that the world is full of assholes.

Whichever philosophy you espouse one thing is clear----good people tend to stick out in our modern society.

Such is the case of Ms. Viola.

Ms. Viola is the coordinator of the Angel Food Ministries program at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

You know, the Black Episcopalians who are feeding me.

When I discovered Angel Food and went to make my first purchase, Ms. Viola welcomed me like a long lost relative.

Not only was she warm, but when I didn’t have enough money to get one of the additional boxes she arranged to get one for me.

I didn’t know this woman from Adam and she was asking me what I needed.

Naturally I couldn’t impose on this nice lady.

I told her that it was okay, that I’d get an additional box next month. She replied that “Donations happen all the time. Just tell me what you want.”

It’s been a long time since a stranger has been nice to me.

I’m a “wait for the other shoe to drop” type of broad.

The defenses are usually up. The wall is set.

I know it’s not fashionable to say that you look for the ugly side of people’s personalities but I’ve always been truthful with you gentle readers and more importantly myself.

Nonetheless, I started to tear up at such sheer kindness.

I just adore that woman.

And because I adore this woman (and am in desperate need additional parental figures), I have a favor to ask.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church has been serving the needs of its worshipers and the Bronzeville neighborhood for over 120 years.

Their original church burned down in 1962 but they managed to carry on their ministry at the parish house until the new church was built near the intersection of 38th and Wabash.

The parish house is a beautiful but neglected jewel in a re-emerging neighborhood.

In fact, it’s next to the Margaret Burroughs house----you know the founder of the Dusable Museum of African American history.

The remaining old homes in the neighborhood are quite breathtaking and in various states of repair.

Such is the case of the St. Thomas parish house.

From what I’ve been told, this beautiful old girl was victim of some unscrupulous contractors and handymen.

In fact, part of the beautiful banister was allegedly stolen by a bootleg contractor around 17 years ago.

He took the banister from the first floor to part of the second floor and replaced it with horrible wrought iron fencing.

Yes, you read correctly----wrought iron fencing in a 100 plus year old house.

Don’t get me started on the dropped ceilings (Ick!) and other monstrosities done by “reputable” contractors.

In short the good folks of St. Thomas and Ms. Viola need to find the funds to restore the parish house to its former glory.

And before you all start asking why can’t they pay for their own repairs, I have a simple answer----‘cause they don’t have the money.

As someone who lives in an older building, I personally know how tough it is to find the money to handle repairs much less make improvements.

Keeping the lights and water on is usually a task within itself much less trying to do accurate (and expensive) historical restoration.

I know one of you has to know something about securing grants for restoration.

I know someone out there can help.

Just tell me how.

News Flash!

Apparently Black people moving into your neighborhood isn't as harmful as once believed.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Bargain and a Blessing

I’m being fed by Black Episcopalians.

Thank you Jesus.

Rather I should say Angel Food Ministries is feeding me by way of the Black Episcopalians.

The Ministry started in 1994 as a sort of a food pantry in Monroe, Georgia in response to plant closings in the area.

According to Angel Food’s website “Over the next few years, other churches wanted to get involved and Angel Food began feeding hundreds of families across the southeast. Now, Angel Food feeds over 500,000 families a month in 35 states.”

And boy am I ever grateful.

Say what you will about faith based initiatives but this one is allowing me to eat without spending insane amounts of money.

I’m sure you good folks have seen the effect of fuel prices on the cost of food.

You just wait until the effects of the recent Midwestern floods.

When you all can’t afford to feed yourselves or your families and beat a path to Angle Food’s door you can send me a note of thanks.

The concept is simple and quite straight forward---you pay $30.00 for a basic box of food (heavy on the meat) that is intended to feed a family of four for about a week or a single person for about a month.

Once you purchase the basic box, you can purchase one or more of four specialty boxes that range from a 7 lb. assorted meat grilled box to a fresh fruit and veggie box. In fact, check out what you can get for the month of July:

7 lb. Assorted Meat Grill Box - $20.00
(1.5 lb. New York Strip Steaks (2 x 12 oz.)
2.5 lb. Boneless Netted Boston Butt Roast
2 lb. Meaty Beef Ribs
1 lb. Mild Italian Sausage)

4.5 lb. Steak and Chicken Combo Box - $20.00
(1.5 lb. Kansas City Strips (2 x 12 oz.)
1.5 lb. Bone-In Ribeyes (2 x 12 oz.)
1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Filet (4 x 6 oz.))

10 lb. Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders - $18.00

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box - $16.00
6 ears Corn
2 lb. Carrots
2 lb. Yellow Onions
1 Cello-Wrapped Lettuce
1 Pineapple
4 California Oranges
1 Seedless Watermelon
6 Russet Potatoes

Not bad, eh?

And the best part is that there are no income verifications or forms to fill out. They don’t want your personal background---well at least the Black Episcopalians didn’t give me the third degree---all they want to know is what you want and how much.

Like I said, simple.

Now that’s not to say that there isn’t what could be described as tracts or at the very least inspirational messages placed in every food order. While I don’t have a problem with it, those of you who do it’s a small price to pay to be able to eat.

Plus the way the world is going today, perhaps we need to revisit our relationship with a higher power.

I’m just sayin’.

So to paraphrase the Blues Brothers I’m going up north to put the word in the street.

I’m giving you the hook up the same way I gave it to my friend and former co-worker who got laid off with me after getting it from my sister.

Now that I look back on how she and I got on the subject of Angel Food it’s quite comical.

My Sister: Yeah, I need to marinate my T-bones before I put them on the grill.

Me: (Sputtering) T-bones? Heffa, even though my income has been
severely cut, I know I still make more money than you. I can’t
afford a can of Spam but your trifflin’ ass is eating T-bones?
What gives? Did you get a better job?

My Sister: Oh, did I not tell you about the hookup?

Me: Hell no---spill it.

My Sister: Let me hip you to the deal---Angel Food Ministries.

And from that conversation I went to the website and found the Black Episcopalians.

Who, might I add, are a hoot.

More on them later.

Go feed yourselves.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Big Bad World Doesn't Owe You A Thing

A reality check and attitude adjustment courtesy of the Eagles.

Friday, July 04, 2008


The inside of my oven was on fire.

I was literally watching my life go up in smoke.

Nearly paralyzed by fear, at least I had the presence of mind to turn off the gas.

Who knew that dripping margarine could cause so much damage in so little time?

In a quest to “get my life back on track” I’ve taken to preparing my meals at home; when you work in a restaurant you tend to get lazy about cooking.

I decided to make my variation of the Weight Watchers frittata recipe I found online about a year ago.

Except I add Milnot got rid of the skim milk and use smoked cheddar instead of part skim cheese.

I guess that doesn’t make it very weight watchery, does it?

While the frittatas turn out quite well, I do have a problem with them sticking to the bottom of the pans.

Despite buying new Caphlon non-stick muffin pans, the problem persisted.

So I thought if I added butter to the egg/milk mixture my sticking problems would be solved.

Except I used some margarine that was already open in the freezer.

Six of one, half dozen of the other---right?

So I melted the margarine and added it to the mixture.

I put together the frittatas, poured in the egg mixture and popped the whole kit and caboodle in the oven.

A few minutes later, I noticed that my oven was smoking. The margarine had bubbled over and had started dripping on the oven floor.

No worries----that happens all the time. Smoke adds flavor, right?

So I opened a few windows, disabled the smoke detector and took the frittatas out of the oven when they appeared to be done.

It was difficult to tell through all of the smoke rolling out of the oven.

I thought that if the source of the smoking were gone, the smoke itself would eventually disappear.


Then the white smoke that had been billowing out of the oven vents suddenly turned black.

There was a full fledged fire in my oven.

I froze.

My oven is powered by natural gas so fire reaching that gas line would have meant big trouble for everyone in my building.

I ran and turned off the gas and dialed the fire department.

I had a fire extinguisher but didn’t know how to use it.

I did on the other hand need to let my neighbors know that they might need to get out of the building.

I banged on my neighbor’s door across the hall and told them what was going on.

The panicked look on my face probably relayed the seriousness of the situation.

Thank God someone took action.

One of my neighbors ran back to their kitchen, grabbed the fire extinguisher, ran back to my kitchen and put the fire out in my oven.

All the while her husband stood there with a dazed look on his face.

Not to be anti-man or anything but I know who I’m gonna ask to hang cabinets when the time comes.

Way to “man up.”

Not soon afterwards, the fire department showed up.

While certain scenes in Backdraft play over and over in my head, I was hoping to meet hot firemen in a less taxing manner.

I.e., not professionally.

After they checked out the oven and made sure the fire was out, one of the firemen asked me why I didn’t put it out with baking soda.

I couldn’t give him an answer.

The firemen went away but the knot in my stomach didn’t.

The thought of another major thing happening in my life was enough to make me take to the couch until my queasiness passed.

I’m working very hard to keep things together but am barely managing to keep my head above water.

When I was telling this story to a group of people, someone mentioned that fire symbolized anger.

And it’s no secret that I’m pissed about this unemployment situation.

Here’s to hoping that all of the fires, physical and spiritual, have been extinguished.