Monday, December 28, 2009

Crafty

This is what happens when you're unemployed, have a ton of christmas ornaments and a hot glue gun.





Gardening and crafting?

I'm one cat away from a female middle age crisis.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things Fall Apart, The Drama

The battle lines were drawn.

Hackles were raised.

It was only a matter of time before a match dropped into this powder keg of hurt feelings and bruised emotions.

Boy howdy, did it ever.

From what I understand thinly veiled accusation were made about the handling of association finances. The bait was taken and that led to a personal attack against the individual who voiced the thinly veiled accusation.

And so on and so forth.

It got ugly. Real ugly. Real quick.

Aside from the childishness of such an exchange, comments like that had (and have) no place in any association meeting.

I get that you may not have the warmest feelings toward your neighbor but if I could sit next to my developer when he chose to come to meetings and not loose my shit; then everyone else can grin and bear it.

Moreover, personal attacks and bickering mean that association business can't get done. If business can't get done we can't move forward on several important topics that need our immediate attention.

Such as a fellow owner who doesn't see fit to pay their assessments.

And when I say not paying their assessments, I don't mean not slowly paying because your unemployed like me.

I mean not paying because they "don't understand what assessments are for."

I'm not sure if it occurred to anyone within this little melodrama that the fires of animosity may be actively stoked to throw the scent off other outstanding business.

And when I say outstanding business I mean delinquent assessments.

What bothers me the most is that a confidence that was entrusted to me was one of those extremely personal zingers exposed at that meeting.

While I don't remember ever repeating this confidence, after the incident was brought to my attention and much thought, it is unlikely that the information came from anyone else.

Plus my name was brought up as the source of the information.

That's how you know this shit is running deep.

I've been privileged to be entrusted with a great deal of information from many people.

And as relationships tend to go, sometimes you have disagreements big or small with your peeps.

But I've managed to keep the lid on where several bodies are buried despite pissing someone off or being pissed off. It's important that people vent. As the saying goes, no man (or woman) is an island.

Unless you're under subpoena, you need to keep the highly personal stuff out of the gossip mill.

That's how crazy all of this has gotten.

Now I'm telling tales out of school.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Never Ending Story

As usual, the trash on the north parkway continues to be a problem.

Why Mt. Carmel can't come up with a workable solution to this issue is beyond me.

It's kind of like knowing that it's going to snow every year yet not having a snow removal plan and salt at the ready.

So I composed and sent the following e-mail to the person in charge of "maintenance" at Mt. Carmel and cc'd my alderman and neighbors:


"It has been over two weeks since I've spoken to you about the trash on the north side of the 65th Street Parkway.

If Mt. Carmel has completed a clean up it was barely noticeable since I've been literally looking at the same bag of discarded trash for the past month. Now more trash has been added to the parkway.

I've been hearing for years how Mt. Carmel is committed to being a "good neighbor." If that's the case, why does there have to be constant reminders about picking up trash and shoveling and salting the parkway? This isn't the first discussion we've had about these topics and based on history, it won't be the last.

Even when the seasonal grounds crew cuts the grass, I've routinely seem them move trash on the parkway into the street and in some cases not pick up the trash at all.

It's difficult enough watching people use our neighborhood as their own personal trash can. My neighbors and I do the best we can to pick up on and around our property and to encourage the culture of not using the parkways, lawns and street as a garbage bag.

Why can't Mt. Carmel do their part without constant prodding? Is this how a "good neighbor" behaves?"


Since I'm confident that they are out for winter break we'll get to look at the crap across the street at least until the beginning of January.

If we're lucky.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things Fall Apart, The Back Story

Drama has been brewing within our association for some time.

Without getting into any specifics, their was a perception among some owners that communication within the association was sorely lacking.

Moreover, when there was a request for information it wasn't exactly answered in a timely manner.

Now I took into account that anyone can manipulate a story to suit their needs and that I'm sure several key facts were left out.

Nonetheless out of everything that was said to me by several different people, the animosity was always directed towards the same person.

One would think that someone might be trying to manipulate me or maybe I'm just lucky that people feel the need to unburden their souls to yours truly.

Who can tell?

Now there are things you should know.

First, the drama is between a group of women.

Second, it's my opinion that it wasn't so much the lack of communication but the manner in which the inquiries were received.

You see not everyone has control of their temper.

When the manner of how you conduct association business is questioned and probed by people who really haven't stepped up to the plate, yeah you're gonna be pissed.

Trust me, I know.

Add that to a potential bad day AND a temper and you've got the beginnings of an in-house fight.

Since I myself have seen the "Mr. Hyde" side of this individual's personality, I never thought it out of the realm of possibility that others may have felt it's wrath.

So let's recap:

We have a bunch of women in a condo association with hurt feelings, misunderstandings and animosities between them.

What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

Moreover who would attempt to capitalize on this chaos?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Things Fall Apart

Drama is afoot within the association.

While I've seen infighting before, it has now reached such a vitriolic levels we can't get any business done.

Which isn't good when you have important business that needs to be conducted.

And when I say vitriolic I mean highly personal attacks during condo board meetings.

Highly personal.

So feelings have been hurt and lines have been drawn.

Since I haven't been to a single meeting in quite awhile I'm going on what has been communicated to me by others and by those who send me e-mails.

Because as I'm sure you all remember, I decided to absolve myself of helping with any condo business partly due to nasty confrontation with a neighbor last year.

But that wasn't only the straw that broke the camel's back.

Mostly the apathy of most of my fellow owners pissed me off to no end. Everyone wants everything done yesterday but isn't willing to truly commit to the effort.

So fuck it.

I'd never asked for a dime of payment for my efforts but being taken for granted and then being told that you're a bad neighbor was just too much.

I rarely get too emotional. I'm not a yeller or a screamer by nature so often people mistake me looking at them like they're crazy as a sign of passiveness.

Losing ones cool often leads to larger drama and who needs that?

But once you're on the list---once you've reached my limit---game on.

Then it's scorched earth.

I'm not proud of that personality trait but I realize that I fall extremely short of God's grace.

It wasn't until a few days ago that I didn't understand how far I'd fallen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Track Mind

Unemployment is clearly a cash cow.

Trust me, I was just as shocked as you when I found this out.

Unfortunately the big bucks that I pull in from unemployment disqualifies me from receiving any type of assistance from LIHEAP or a Link card.

What kills me is that when I explain my basic monthly outlay to keep a roof over my head and the lights on the reply I receive is "We don't take your bills into account. That's not how this program works."

Un-flipping-believeable.

For a family of one (the cat doesn't count)can only have a gross income of about $1,100 a month to qualify for the Link card. For LIHEAP the most you can only is $1,354 a month.

I completely understand why many are just pissed off.

No one will help you despite the fact you've been a good egg and paid into the system.

Most homeowners with equity in their homes will not be helped by the Obama Plan.

Most single people can't qualify for a medical card or the Link card from the state.

One would almost think that the social service system isn't designed to help the middle class. You might also be tempted to think that the once you qualify for any type of help, that the system is designed to either keep you impoverished or make you lie to keep your benefits.

I'm done. I'm totally absolutely done.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

C'mon Son!

I was in the middle of watching Law and Order Friday night when the picture went out.

Since I have Dish satellite for cable this isn't an uncommon occurrence.

If the wind blows too hard or the weather suddenly changes the dish won't pick up the signal.

Usually you give it a few minutes and the picture comes right back in.

Except on Friday.

I waited and waited and my picture never came back.

The weather seemed clear and I performed the diagnostics but no dice.

Since I had plans, I decided to pursue remedies when I returned later that evening.

When I did get on the phone with the Dish customer service representative we ran through a few more diagnostic tests with the same results.

So a service call was scheduled for Saturday.

When Luis the service technician came out he climbed up to the roof he quickly and efficiently diagnosed the problem.

My satellite dish was gone.

Some trifflin' ass motherfucker climbed on my roof---directly over my head my I add----on a dark, cold windy Chicago night and STOLE my satellite dish in the middle of Law and Order.

Ain't that a bitch?

I was completely undone. It took a day for me to calm down.

Who climbs up on your roof at night to take a flipping dish?

It turns out that despite a majority of the dish being plastic, there are some metal components that can be worth up to $15.00 on the street.

So does that mean that the thief goes around collecting dishes until he (or she) has enough scrap metal to make decent money?

Clearly we're not out of this recession if people are roof surfing for cable satellite dishes for scrap metal.

It's like I had my own personal "C'mon Son" moment.

Your ass is such a bootleg, ghetto ass criminal that you have to risk life and limb to grab dishes off peoples roofs.

Damn, player.

Normally during this time of year it's the beginning of the "jacking season."

The jacking season usually lasts from the holidays until after the tax refund anticipation loans stop.

They'll jack you for your Christmas gifts. Your purse will get cut while you're in a large crowd.

If you're foolish enough to get your taxes prepared at a Currency Exchange don't be surprised when someone sticks a gun in your face as soon as you exit.

People usually become extra cautious and take care to not draw attention to themselves.

Most people exercise using common sense and street smarts.

And until yesterday I thought I was one of those people.

Little did I know that jacking had gone three stories up.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Kool Aid

On occasion my neighbor Erin and I have serious discussions on what's wrong with this country.

While she sites Maroon 5 and Nickelback as prime causes, when I saw her yesterday I brought up a far more sinister force that is permeating our way of life.

Ladies and gentlemen, resist the Snuggie nation.

Billing itself as a blanket with sleeves, the American people have fallen for this ruse hook, line and sinker.

These abominations unto God are flying off the shelves like hotcakes.

At first I could ignore it like any other bad trend. Then recently I saw this horrific display in the front of the Walgreens at 67th and Stony Island.



Even Black people have taken a big gulp of the kool aid.

To quote Florida Evans, "Damn, damn, DAMN!"

When I asked the security guard if the evil Snuggies were selling briskly he said that they were. He even commented that he was considering getting one.

I guess the look on my face told him otherwise.

"So I shouldn't get one?" He asked.

"Ummm, no." I replied.

I then asked him what was wrong with the blankets that he already had at his house? He replied "But this is a blanket with sleeves. It's like I have a blanket on but it won't slip off when I walk around."

Damn player. How can you even begin to debate that slothful logic?

We're so lazy as a culture we can't even cover ourselves with a blanket. Now we have to take them everywhere?

I will say that if he expects any heat in the romance department, he best not be walking around in a Snuggie when his significant other is around.

'Cause if some man tried to rub up against me in a Snuggie I would inform him that until that thing is burned at the stake the candy store is closed.

Hell, the friction of all of that attempted rubbing might cause a spark which in turn would engulf the offending garment in flames.

Those things don't look too flame retardant.

Like all of the things I've instantly hated throughout the years----Pete Rose and Milli Vanilli just to name a few---I hope America wakes up before it's too late.

The Snuggie is the garment equivalent of having way too many cats.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Beating A Dead Horse

It shouldn't be a shock to anyone that irresponsible absentee landlords own properties on the south side.

But celebrity irresponsible absentee landlords is somewhat of a news story.

To be accurate I should correctly state that Antoine Walker is not an absentee landlord but rather a celebrity investor or principal in two real estate investment companies.

Mr. Walker has had a rather tumultuous year.

It appears that his financial troubles have continued to reach into the Chicago real estate arena.

According to the Chicago Tribune Mr. Walker is "the target of more than a dozen lawsuits alleging poor management of numerous properties, unpaid debts and damages caused by shoddy repair work. In one case last month, the city won $950,000 in court-ordered fines against Walker Ventures."

The article further states that most of the legal issues stem from the alledged day to day mismanagement of the properties.

One of the self described "managing members" of the companies is also accused of "fraudulently collecting $10,000 in federally subsidized rent payments, though those actions are not connected to Walker Ventures or AW Realty."

Unfortnately this is nothing new to those of us who live here.

What stands out to me are two glaring issues.

It saddens me to see Black people victimizing other Black people yet again. But it easiest to make money off of those who are less likely to manipulate the system in their favor.

While race may play a roll in this, it's probably more of a class thing.

Who cares or pays attention to poor Black people?

Secondly, when are CHAC & HUD going to stop serving as piggy banks for anyone who signs up for the program?

It seems that once you pass your initial and annual inspections you have little reason other than money to keep up with the maintenance.

But yet the payments still continue.

Because until CHAC and HUD tighten up their policies, especially concerning condominium developments, the cash cow will continue.

And nothing will change.

But the south side will continue to get more of the same.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank You New York Times

From today's issue of the New York Times. My comments are in bold italic.

November 29, 2009

U.S. Will Push Mortgage Firms to Reduce More Loan Payments
By PETER S. GOODMAN

The Obama administration on Monday plans to announce a campaign to pressure mortgage companies to reduce payments for many more troubled homeowners, as evidence mounts that a $75 billion taxpayer-financed effort aimed at stemming foreclosures is foundering.

Foundering? It was a poorly written piece of legislation designed to protect the banks from taking a bath on properties that were worth less than the loans. Make no mistake, it was always about protecting the banks, never about helping people.

“The banks are not doing a good enough job,” Michael S. Barr, Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial institutions, said in an interview Friday. “Some of the firms ought to be embarrassed, and they will be.”

So you're going to try to embarrass financial corporations who pushed for the TARP bailout? These people have no shame, you can't embarrass them.

Even as lenders have in recent months accelerated the pace at which they are reducing mortgage payments for borrowers, a vast majority of loans modified through the program remain in a trial stage lasting up to five months, and only a tiny fraction have been made permanent.

Mr. Barr said the government would try to use shame as a corrective, publicly naming those institutions that move too slowly to permanently lower mortgage payments. The Treasury Department also will wait until reductions are permanent before paying cash incentives that it promised to mortgage companies that lower loan payments.

Shame as a corrective measure. Really folks? Really? What do they care if they get the money? This is just a thinly disguised PR campaign anyway. Most of the banks have already chomped away at that big old $700 billion dollar pie. Who cares if they miss $1,000 here or $1,000 there.

“They’re not getting a penny from the federal government until they move forward,” Mr. Barr said.

My ass.

From its inception early this year, the Obama administration’s program, called Making Home Affordable, has been dogged by persistent questions about whether it could diminish a swelling wave of foreclosures.(It can't) Some economists argued that the plan was built for last year’s problem — exotic mortgages whose payments increased — and not for the current menace of soaring joblessness.(Duh) Lawyers who defend homeowners against foreclosure maintained that mortgage companies collect lucrative fees from long-term delinquency, undercutting their incentive to lower payments to affordable levels.

Last month, an oversight panel created by Congress reported that fewer than 2,000 of the 500,000 loan modifications then in progress had become permanent under Making Home Affordable. When the Treasury releases new numbers next month, it is expected to report a disappointingly small number of permanent loan modifications, with estimates in the tens of thousands out of the more than 650,000 borrowers now in the program.

More unsatisfactory data is likely to intensify pressures on the Obama administration to mount a more muscular effort to stem foreclosures beyond the Treasury’s campaign this week. Populist anger has been fanned by a growing perception that the Treasury has lavished generous bailouts on Wall Street institutions while neglecting ordinary homeowners — this, in the midst of double-digit unemployment, which is daily sending more households into delinquency.

Funny, didn't I say that? By the way, it's not a perception it's the truth. Banks---$700 billion, American homeowner and taxpayer---screwed.

“I’ve been very frustrated by the pace of the program,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Banking Committee. “Very few people have emerged from the trial period.”

Though the administration’s program was initially proclaimed as a means of sparing three to four million households from foreclosure, “they’re going to be lucky if they save one or one-and-a-half million,” said Edward Pinto, a consultant to the real estate finance industry who served as chief credit officer to the government-backed mortgage company Fannie Mae in the late 1980s.

A White House spokeswoman, Jennifer R. Psaki, said the administration would continue to refine the program as needed. “We will not be satisfied until more program participants are transitioning from trial to permanent modifications,” she said.

Capitol Hill aides in regular contact with senior Treasury officials say a consensus has emerged inside the department that the program has proved inadequate, necessitating a new approach. But discussions have yet to reach the point of mapping out new options, the aides say.

“People who work on this on a day-to-day basis are vested enough in it that they think there’s a need to do a course correction rather than a wholesale rethink,” said a Senate Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition he not be named for fear of angering the administration. “But at senior levels, where people are looking at this and thinking ‘Good God,’ there’s a sense that we need to think about doing something more.”

Mr. Barr, who supervises the program, portrayed such deliberations as part of a constant process of assessment within the Treasury. He expressed confidence that the mortgage program had sufficient tools to deliver relief, characterizing the slow pace as reflecting a lack of follow-through, and not structural defects requiring a revamping.

Do these people live in the real world? Lack of follow through on the program? The legislation doesn't need a revamping? These people are so out of touch with reality it's sickening.

“We’re seeing a failure by some of the bigger banks on execution,” Mr. Barr said. “We’re going to be quite focused and direct on particular institutions that are not doing a good job.”

The banks say they are making good-faith efforts to comply with the program and provide relief.

My ass.

“We’ve poured resources into this,” said a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, Tom Kelly. “We’ve made dramatic improvements, and we continue to try to get better.”

Some senators contend that the Treasury program, addressing mortgages whose low promotional interest rates had soared, is outmoded.(Duh) At this point, foreclosures are being propelled by joblessness,(Duh) which is sending millions of previously credit-worthy people with ordinary mortgages into delinquency.

Within the Senate, some discussion now focuses on pursuing legislation that would create a national foreclosure prevention program modeled on one started last year in Philadelphia. That program forces mortgage companies to submit to court-supervised mediation with delinquent borrowers aimed at striking an equitable resolution before they are allowed to proceed with the sale of foreclosed homes.

Go get 'em Philly. Rock it out.

Some Democrats say the time has come to reconsider a measure opposed by the Obama administration: giving bankruptcy judges the right to amend mortgages as a means of pressuring lenders to extend reductions.

Lawyers who defend homeowners against foreclosure increasingly say they doubt the Treasury program can be made effective. Under the plan, companies that agree to lower payments for troubled borrowers collect $1,000 from the government, followed by another $1,000 a year for up to three years. The program is premised on the idea that a small cash incentive will induce the banks to cut their losses and accept smaller payments.

But the mortgage companies that collect payments from homeowners — servicers, as they are known — generally do not own the loans. Rather, they collect fees from investors that actually own mortgages, and their fees often increase the longer a borrower remains in delinquency.

Under the Treasury program, borrowers who receive loan modifications must make their new payments on a trial basis and then submit new paperwork validating their income to make their modifications permanent.

But borrowers and their lawyers report that much of the required paperwork is being lost in a haze of bureaucratic disorganization. Servicers are abruptly changing fax numbers and mislaying files — the same issues that have plagued the program from its inception.

“People continue to get lost in the phone tree hell,” said Diane E. Thompson, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center.

Some lawyers who defend homeowners against foreclosure assert that mortgage companies are merely stalling, using trial loan modifications as an opportunity to extract a few more dollars from borrowers who would otherwise make no payments.

“I don’t think they ever intended to do permanent loan modifications,” said Margery Golant, a Florida lawyer who previously worked for a major mortgage company, Ocwen Financial. “It’s a shell game that they’re playing.”

Shell game indeed...

Monday, November 23, 2009

On The Come Up, Garden Edition

I was waiting for the bus last week and happened to look over towards the community garden and saw new structures on the property.

Now that the leaves are off the trees you can easily see the garden from Stony Island.

Naturally, I trotted over there a few days later and this is what I saw:







We now have a new pergola that will be catching rain water for collection in one of several barrels AND provide shade.

As you can see, they kept the old one. It's just in another part of the garden.

There is also a new sturdily constructed storage shed.



You know it's quality when you see the nice Amish people hammering away.

Out of all of the odd sights I've seen on the south side, none was odder than the Amish rolling through the 'hood.

Perhaps other business people will take note. The Amish will go anywhere they can make money. They don't judge a neighborhood by marketing and sales projections and put out a quality product.

Plus I've been angling to get one of those white caps for my hair when I garden.

Nonetheless, the garden looks even better, cleanup day is tomorrow AND I hear that we're getting a new fence in the spring.

Now if we could only get rid of those flipping Japanesse beatles.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For Real?

So rumor has it that the our economy is coming out of this recession.

You can't tell that from where I'm sitting.


The north east corner of Marquette and Blackstone Avenue. The property was just boarded up in the last few days but has sat vacant and untouched for well over two years.


A close up of the sign that the bank posted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Solutions

Money is tight these days.

But I'm sure you figured that out as I'm unemployed.

As a result, the personal grooming budget had to be sacrificed.

It's not like was going out for facials, massages and seaweed wraps when I had a job but I tried to get my nails and hair done with some regularity.

You know, the basics.

Money hasn't been the only culprit, I've simply lacked the will to get off my ass and groom myself.

It's like a never ending downward spiral. You don't go anywhere so you don't get dressed. You don't get dressed so you stay in your PJ's all day. You stay in your PJ's all day so you don't comb your hair.

You know where I'm going with this.

But yesterday, I decided that I had to break the cycle. I couldn't look like a bag of ass anymore.

Yet how could I make the magic happen without breaking the bank?

The solution: Cosmetology schools.

For $5.00 plus a small tip, I was able to get the eyebrows tamed and a pretty good manicure.

So I feel better, look better and didn't spend a great deal of money.

Thanks, Truman Cosmetology Salon, I needed that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On The Come Up

Since I rarely drive I may have missed the fact that the 63rd and the Dan Ryan had both inbound and outbound exit ramps.

Nonetheless the south bound exit coming from the city seems new to me.

Now I'm hoping the construction is sound and nothing falls apart, but can you believe this landscaping?



Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is 63rd and Wentworth.

But I'm sure you could tell that by the grattiesque auto parts sign in the background of this picture. Prettying up the urban landscape won't happen overnight.

Normally the ramp medians would be choked with weeds and trash.

This looks like something you'd see on the north side.

We're on the come up.

Anniversary

Eight years ago yesterday, I closed on my current home and began my adventures on the south side.

If they (and I)knew what they (and I) know now.

A toast to beautiful Woodlawn and the wonders she holds.

Friday, November 13, 2009

We Were Warned....

The O'Jays tried to tell us, but we weren't listening.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Capitalism

It was with some interest that I finally got around to seeing Michael Moore's latest offering "Capitalism, A Love Story."

I didn't realize that my own private little unemployment and mortgage hell had been translated to the big screen.

So much for that book deal and movie options.

Say what you will about Mr. Moore, but I can tell you with absolute clarity that I'm living a vast majority of that story right now.

On it's face that may seem depressing, but there are a number of things that let me know I wasn't the only one to notice that things were amiss.

Mr. Moore also called attention to those who foresaw the subprime mortgage fallout. He also pointed out that the TARP bailout was passed on the second go round despite the fact it was voted down the first time.

Make no mistake friends---This whole TARP thing sounded extra bootleg the minute it was announced.

It's nice to know I'm not crazy. I wasn't being paranoid.

So the question remains---what's next?

What happens when people's severance or savings disappears and they find out that the safety net that was so generously extended for corporate America isn't large enough for "average" American?

Ladies and gentlemen if you didn't read it when I wrote it the first time, understand it now: We're screwed.

I'm just curious about the course of action the rest of my fellow Americans are going to take when they wake up and smell the coffee.

This may not be pretty.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mortgage Epilogue, Part I

On it's face my mortgage situation has been worked out---at least temporarily.

When I didn't know what would happen, I contacted the press about my situation to see if a little well needed publicity would help the matter.

While I spoke with various members of the press, this is the only story to emerge so far.

Much thanks to Ashley Gross and the lovely folks over at Chicago Public Radio.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

I've always been a classic cartoon freak.

So much so, that I boycotted that bootleg piece of cinema that somewhat resembled "The Grinch That Stole Christmas."

Imagine the nerve of Hollywood sending the Grinch down the hill twice. TWICE!

For real?

So it is with that in mind that I present a text message conversation between myself and my sister during "The Great Pumpkin" broadcast on Tuesday.


(Sister) 10/27/2009 6:58:56 PM
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is on ABC Now!

(WW) 6:59:38 PM
I know. I just tweeted that same thing!

(Sister) 7:01:19 PM
Classic! Watching with the boys. (Editor's note: My nephews)

(WW) 7:13:01 PM
Best line from Linus: "I thought little girls believed whatever they were told."

(Sister) 7:13:54 PM
Lol

(WW) 7:17:24 PM
Charlie Brown getting the rock is such a wonderful metaphor.

(WW) 7:21:46 PM
Charlie Brown in that mask looks like R. Kelly. I didn't know that R. was biting (Editor's note: Biting = copying) off of old Chuck...




(WW) 7:23:09 PM
If a dog's lips were the least of things that mine have touched...Sweet Jesus.

(Sister) 7:23:29 PM
Snoopy. Gotta love him.

(Sister) 7:24:17 PM
Whooo (Editor's note: Snoopy howling when Linus plays a sad song on the piano.)

(WW) 7:24:45 PM
How did you know I was laughing?

(Sister) 7:25:59 PM
We've watch this together forever, blockhead.

(WW) 7:26:28 PM
I love that he looked all embarrassed.

(Sister) 7:27:28 PM
Right. That's what makes it so damn funny.

(WW) 7:31:00 PM
Did I just see Chuck in a commercial and did he just say "homies?" Sweet Jesus (Editor's note: A horribly voiced "modern" Charlie Brown was in a :15 second ABC promo for some dreadful new cartoon about his new "homies.")

(WW) 7:32:10 PM
Now we stop watching---Ass. (Editor's note: The original Great Pumpkin was on followed by some bootleg Charlie Brown cartoon---I would have none of it and changed the channel.)

(WW) 7:33:20 PM
My final favorite metaphor is "I went trick or treating and all I got is this bag full of rocks."

(WW) 7:34:59 PM
I changed to "The Bob Newhart Show,"

(Sister) 7:35:01 PM
The commercial was a bit much.

(Sister) 7:35:50 PM
You're missing Joe Cool.

(WW)7:36:33 PM
Joe Cool circa 1990---Ass.

(WW) 7:37:36 PM
OMG, it's Suzanne Pleshette!

(Sister) 7:39:22 PM
Shut up!

(WW) 7:40:04 PM
I told you I'm watching "The Bob Newhart Show."


**End Conversation**

Frankly speaking it all comes back to your warm childhood memories.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Droopy

The south side is awash in people carrying really bad knock off Coach purses.

The "Logo C" has been Coach's staple for almost ten years.

But it's everywhere---I'm sure you've seen it but may not have realized (or cared) about a logo on a purse.

Nonetheless, you know a purse is really popular when you see the bootleg guys on Chicago Avenue with the knock off almost immediately.

So I've seen the "Logo C" pretty much on everything.

Or so I thought.

As I was sitting on the bus with a gaggle of high school kids, I was counting the minutes until I could exit at my stop.

I believe one of Dante's levels of hell is a packed bus with high school kids.

That's when I saw it---the ultimate ghetto fab.

Young people wearing saggy pants showing their underwear is nothing new.

A young person wearing saggy pants shows his bootleg Coach "Logo C" briefs IS something new.

Jesus keep me near the cross.

Not only did I NOT need to see that but so much was going through my mind:

Who sags AND wear printed designer underwear? Is he just that label conscious or is he a gay thug?

Why would anyone want to show their underwear to the public if they're not LaPerla?

I guess I'm truly an adult.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How Facebook Saved My Ass, Part 2 or How The Collegiate Mafia Came Through Once Again

My recent mortgage foolishness has been a thorn in my side.

And that's putting it mildly.

For those of you who have been reading for quite some time, you know the past few years haven't been paradise.

Jesus take the wheel.

But as we all know, bad things happen to good people everyday. And in some cases, really, really bad things happen to really, really good people.

So in the grand scheme of things, my issues were (are?) a cake walk.

No one was bleeding, I could stil feed myself and I had a roof over my head.

Now my mortgage servicer was trying to affect the later.

Obviously, I was upset.

One of my dear friends who is a regular reader of this blog suggested that I contact a mutual friend of ours who might be in a position to offer some advice.

She also mentioned that she recently reconnected with her on Facebook.

At this point, the situation was (is?) dire----what did I have to lose?

So I reached out to our friend after many years.

I felt a little awkward as we haven't spoken in for some time but have many friends in common from our college days.

So I took a chance.

After a round of phone tag, we spoke and I explained my situation.

It's not that I want to antagonize Select Portfolio Servicing but I failed to understand why there was such a glaring hole in the Obama plan.

But don't get me on that soap box right now.

Let's just suffice it to say, I pray you all don't lose your jobs, run through your severance and savings.

Unless you're the auto industry or banking, let's just say your bailout options are severely limited.

But I digress...

Within hours, my friend received my information via e-mail and said that she would see what she could do.

Two days later, I received a much more sympathetic phone call from my mortgage servicer.

Now they wanted to give me "options."

To quote the late great Dinah Washington, "What a difference a day makes."

I wouldn't have been given "options" without the suggestion of my friend who in turn found our other friend on Facebook.

That's when I started to think, there actually might be something to this little thing.

So I had to check it out.

While my college network may not have as much prestige at The Northwestern Mafia, I may be able to argue that they aren't any less influential.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Facebook Saved My Ass

I relentlessly mocked Facebook and my friends who lived and died by their "status."

As much as I've revealed over the past four years on this blog, I don't believe that my life is so interesting that you really care what I'm doing every minute of every day.

Plus you can't have all of your business out in the street.

You'd hear about these foolish children posting salacious details about their activities along provocative pictures and wonder why their admission offer to their number one college was suddenly revoked.

As a small aside, I'm glad camera phones and Facebook wasn't around in the early nineties.

Let's just say, my options for running for political office would be even more limited.

Sweet Baby Jesus.

Plus I felt at 41, Facebook wasn't exactly for generation X.

Hordes of Gen Xer's constantly updating Facebook on their iphones seemed (and seems) a little silly.

So I dug my heels in and stubbornly refused to drink the Kool Aid.

That is until a close friend had a great idea.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cue The Eye Rolling

Senator Durbin got back to me via the post. This is an excerpt of his letter:

Dear Woodlawn Wonder:

Thank you for your message. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concerns about the housing crisis and its impact on our nation and communities throughout Illinois. Enclosed please find a list of HUD approved counseling agencies that may be able to help you refinance your mortgage and keep your home. Also included are phone numbers for local helplines that may be able to aid you as well.


Obviously I didn't make myself clear. So I composed another letter.

Senator Durbin,

Thank you for your October 16th response.

Unfortunately it did not address my concern that the HAMP program does not cover home owners who are ahead in their mortgages and may fall behind in their payments due to unemployment.

Even the Congressional Oversight Panel states that "HAMP was not designed to address foreclosures caused by unemployment, which now appears to be a central cause of nonpayment, further limiting the scope of the program."

While I appreciate the supporting documentation, lists of HUD approved counselors will not address my situation.

What will address my situation is the Treasury Department expanding the HAMP program to consider unemployment. I fail to understand why I'm being punished for not being underwater with my mortgage and unemployed.

It seems had I purchased more home than I could afford or mortgaged it to the hilt, I would qualify for the program.

While the automobile and banking industries are "too big to fail" apparently the American homeowner is not.

Since you chair the subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government why can't you bring this rapidly escalating issue to the attention of the Treasury Department? Senator Durbin most unemployed Americans don't have another six months for the government to act on this issue.

Where's our bailout?

Sincerely,

The Woodlawn Wonder


Ladies and gentlemen, we are adrift and on our own. Our lawmakers are completely and utterly clueless.

By the time they "get it" we'll all be in a shelter.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Blueprint

When I got the news that I was rejected from the Home Affordable Mortgage Program I was really, really upset.

To the point of tears.

And, might I add, a little hysterical.

For those of you who are long time readers of this blog, you'll remember that it took me 11 long months to find another job after my layoff from my previous employer of 9 years.

Usually foreclosures start at or around the 90 day mark.

We've had five in our association over the years so I've been at ground zero and am somewhat familiar with the process.

While it can take over a year, once it starts you either have to have a pile of money fall out the sky to stop it or sell your home.

Right now, neither is not a viable option. Who in the good Lord's name is going to rent to someone who dosen't have a job? Even the best do gooder liberal has bills to pay in these uncertain economic times.

I know very few people who can subsidize others right now.

So I knew that I'd have to help myself.

When I calmed down, dried my tears and had a few glasses of wine, I crafted this letter:

I just received a letter from my mortgage servicer letting me know that I DIDN'T qualify for the Home Affordable Modification Program AND due to my unemployment the the principal and interest that I can pay is unacceptable to the mortgage servicer.

What does this mean?

It means that as of the end of October, my mortgage goes back up to it's original payment (I was on a modification plan for $XXX) of $X,XXX.

I bring in whopping $X,XXX a month on unemployment and whatever I make at my waitressing job (usually under $XXX a month).

My lender said that they can't work with me on another loan modification program until I get a job to provide sufficient income.

I have never heard something so ass backwards in my life. At this point, I stand a very real chance of being foreclosed on.

When you hear about the program, you're under the impression that it's set up to help.

You lose your job through no fault of your own and you want to do right and keep your house, so you report your change in situation to your lender.

Huge mistake.

At this point honesty---for me at least---has not been the best policy.

It seems that the Treasury Department didn't plan for people having problems with their mortgage due to unemployment rather than being "upside down" in their mortgages. A part of the letter reads:

"The reason you do not qualify is that you did not pass the U.S. Treasury Department's Net Present Value (NPV) Test. The NPV test determined that the amount realized by sale of your property following foreclosure exceeds the amount that would be obtained through a modification of your mortgage."

I thought the point of the program was to keep people in their homes?

Call me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX if you'd like to discuss the situation further.

I seriously don't know what I'm going to do.

Sincerely,

The Woodlawn Wonder


I sent the letter to President Obama, Senator Richard Durbin, Congressman Bobby Rush, State Senator Kwame Raoul and State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie last Monday, October 12th.

Oh yeah, and a few members of the press.

Since it was a legal holiday I knew I wouldn't hear from anyone for a couple of days. Nonetheless, on Wednesday I went ahead and did some follow up.

I was pleasantly surprised at the progress I made and also received a game changing suggestion.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Well Shut The Front Door

You are not gonna believe the phone call I just got from Select Portfolio Servicing.

Un-flipping-believeable.

More later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fight The Power

Battling the system can be exhausting.

My hair is a hot ass mess.

But fear not people, I think I've made some positive progress. I will update the blog in the next few days with details just in case you need to mount your own defense to save your home.

Nothing is guaranteed but at least my story may start to resonate with people who can actually help.

We'll see what happens, but rest assured I'll keep you all updated every step of the way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Backing Down

You know do know that I'm not going to let this Select Portfolio foolishness happen without a fight?

I have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen next but I'm in the process of getting my ducks in a row.

Let's see what one determined woman can do.



Game on.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rejected

I just received this in the mail from my lender:

Dear Borrower:

Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (SPS), as a servicer for your loan, has reviewed your account for the Obama Administration's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). We regret that we are unable to qualify you for HAMP based on the information you provided to us. The reason you do not qualify is that you did not pass the U.S. Treasury Department's Net Present Value (NPV) test. The NPV test determined that the amount realized by sale of your property following foreclosure exceeds the amount that would be obtained through a modification of your mortgage.

Words absolutely fail me at this time.

I very well could be looking at foreclosure in the next few months.

Developing...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Finished?

I noticed something interesting when I was walking down the alley the other day.

What? You don't walk down the alley on your block?

How else will you know what's really going on in your neighborhood?

Anyhoo...

I was walking down the alley and noticed that the back windows of the newly renovated apartment building are covered in plywood.

The openings where the back doors should be are covered in plywood as well.

It appears that someone from the inside may not be able to exit to the back porch.

How in God's name can you rent apartments to tenants and not have another way out of the building in case of an emergency?

That ain't right and that ain't safe.

Moreover, that doesn't sound legal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's Always Something

Like most people, I have some neighbors that only speak to me when they need something.

A phone number of another neighbor. A key to the basement. I'm usually persona non grata until their needs come front and center.

That's not to say that there aren't a few great people who live in my association.

Neighbors who will pick me up when they see me on the bus stop, or take me along with them when they go to a big box store. Kind simple gestures that show a basic level of humanity and consideration.

And don't think for one minute that I'm making my neighbor's responsible for hauling my ass from point A to point B. I have a Chicago Card and a shopping cart, thank you very much.

But it sure is nice to give righty and lefty a break and every now and then.

So after the "Great Assessment Debacle" last fall, I made the decision to pull away from caring about my condo association.

Why in God's name would I care about our home more than a majority of the people who live here?

It's not just their attitude towards me that sticks in my craw---I've got thick skin. It's their complete lack of willingness to help in the smallest way for the betterment of our home.

Let me emphasize that again---OUR home.

Stuff doesn't get done around here by hoping and magic fairy dust.

While I have my issues with our treasurer and his wife, I will give them their props for doing a great deal of work on behalf of this association.

But then of course so have I and a few other people.

Unfortunately that spirit of cooperation nd a tiny bit of sacrifice is sorely lacking among a majority of my neighbors.

Which makes our latest set of issues quite interesting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Clearly It's Not The Rabbits We Need To Worry About

Per my Tweet from yesterday, some jackasses are going into the garden and stealing produce.

That's just plain out and out bullshit.

The only leeway I'd give would be if someone's hungry but even then I'd rather you ask me for my tomatoes than find them used in an impromptu food fight.

Just a gut feeling after seeing the remains of ripened tomatoes all over the garden.

If you remember part three of my Yo Chicago interview on You Tube, you'll see a glimpse of my tomato plant which only had about five tomatoes on it vs. fifteen from the week before.

So much for tomato, mozzarella and basil salad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Good Neighbor

Neighbors.

You're blessed if you have good ones. If not, the few good ones you have will stand out even more.

It's difficult to put into words how much I simply adore this young woman. We initially met because of former neighbors but her blog also keeps me in stitches.

Before I go on a rant about bad neighbors, I'd like to reintroduce you to Erin, the author of Swim & Glitter. Her posts make me laugh out loud.

Her latest one is no exception.

You'll hear me talk about a great many things. My sex life won't be one of them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Giving Up The Ghost

The last time I wrote about Carlton Knight’s Dixie Highway property, the day to day operations had been taken over by a court appointed Receiver in December of 2007.

The Receiver really gave it a go.

Rents were collected and recommendations for repairs were made.

Some tenants were evicted, some were moved to other units and others continued to live in their current situation.

Make no mistake, the condition of the building was (and is) dismal.

But sometimes, no matter how much you want to make it happen, you’ve got to give up the ghost.

From the 13th report:
We had come to the conclusion that given the condition of the property and the limited income we were receiving, it was better to vacate the property rather than keeping only a handful of paying tenants, which would have resulted in an operating deficit of at least $4,000/month.”

Holy Crap.

Even with loads of money the Receiver and Inland Bank couldn’t make that dog hunt.

I guess you need to know when to throw in the towel.

But the scary part is that the property didn’t get that way overnight.

At least that what the Receiver’s first and second reports said.

Do not make me detail the contents of reports three through twelve.

It’s just too jaw dropping.

And to think, people had to live in those conditions.

It just makes you shake your head.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mowed

Are you ready for this?

The last building on the block with an overgrown yard has finally cut their grass.




Foolishness. Just plain foolishness.

While that is a big step in the aesthetic look of the neighborhood, the downside is that now the first floor windows and main entrance has been boarded up.

The grass looks better but the now plywood abounds.

Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Now the larger question is will the building be rehabbed? If so, will it be rental as well?

I will say, with everyone's grass cut, the block looks very nice and welcoming.

Developing...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Making Amends

It finally happened.

The Roosevelt Collection not only refunded my friend’s earnest money but also his upgrade money.

All in all it took roughly two weeks for the checks to be issues once all the final paperwork was signed.

So The Roosevelt Collection manned up and did the right thing by their purchasers. That, my friends, is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal real estate market.

Keeping your word, providing good customer service---go figure.

Perhaps some folks in Uptown might catch a clue.

Or could it be that the consequences of their actions are slowly but surely about to catch up with them?

Time will tell.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shaking The Cup

Yes, that is a donate button you see on the left hand side.

And yes, I'm still looking for a job.

But for those of you who remember my first go round with unemployment, decent paying jobs with benefits aren't exactly falling from the trees these days.

Nonetheless I'm plugging away.

But plugging away dosen't equal a full time job or money.

I'm still waitressing but that obviously dosen't pull in the cash one needs to pay the mortgage.

So while I search for a job, I'm shaking the metaphorical cup.

If you happen to find yourself with a couple of spare bucks you can easily, safely and anonomously pass it my way via PayPal.

If not, don't worry---we're still friends.

'Cause I'm not sure how long this storm is gonna last.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seriously

It's not like the fence around our back perimeter was the epitome of high security.

But for the last eight years, it's held up through dings, dents, trash truck accidents and attempted forced entry.

Yet now some fuck nut has seen fit to bend a post so badly that anyone could just walk through the opening.

Holy shit.

All of this came about as one of the locks to our back gates went missing and when it was replaced, a notice wasn't posted.

Because a notice wasn't posted, new keys weren't distributed.

And when I went to take out my trash (*ugh*) the other day an unwelcome chore went to downright unpleasant as I had to carry my trash around the building and down the alley in order to properly dispose of it in the dumpster.

That's more than I can say for another one of my neighbors as they left three bags of stinking ass trash inside of our gate on the ground.

Let me repeat that in case you missed it---one of my neighbors as they left three bags of stinking ass trash inside of our gate ON THE GROUND.

Trifflin' ass...

So this evening when I went to go look off the back porch, I see the trash is gone but the fence post is severely bent.

Frankly, I don't think any of this is a coincidence.

But I do know this---some dumb ass thought it was a good idea to leave open trash on our property to attract vermin AND someone thought it was a good idea to bend the fence post to the point it's created a security risk.

Who in the H-E double hockey sticks do I live with?

Seriously?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The First Harvest

Behold, nature's bounty in the form of collard greens.



I cooked them with turkey bacon, seasoning, garlic and a little bit of water.

Yum!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watership Down

Bunnies.

Their long eared, twitchy nosed, brown gray furred cuteness gently hoping along bothering no one.

That is until you plant a vegetable garden.

Then you look at them the way an anxious father looks at the boy his daughter starts dating---with a mixture of dread, fear and loathing.

I knew that the local flora and fauna thrive in our little urban-suburban paradise.

I also knew that rabbits had become a scourge of Grant Park gardens in recent years.

They cutely nibble away at the very expensive plants that both the Chicago Park District and the City put down to make our urban experience just a little bit brighter.

While this city has many issues, it’s apparently rabbit nirvana.

So much so, that the rabbit population has exploded in my neighborhood in the past few years.

I can see why they like the ‘hood; fresh water lagoons, tons of green space in two parks bridged by Midway Plaisance, few coyotes to hunt them and three urban gardens to nibble---that’s not a bad gig.

The average person takes this with a grain of salt. The average gardener would like to see Mopsy, Flopsy and Cottontail banished to an island never to return.

So it was with little surprise that I saw a young rabbit looking my way when I was walking home from the train one day.

While I hate those little buggers he was really cute with the previously mentioned twitchy nose and round furry body.

He was so young that he didn’t know that he should fear me and let me inch closer and closer.

And so this little dance continued between us over the next few weeks.

In fact I was able to get close enough to snap pictures.





But then it occurred to me that’s how they suck you in---they get you to like them, then you have a hard time putting them in a pie when they eat your collard greens.

Diabolical motherfuckers.

Elmer Fudd is my new hero. I wish I had a spear and magic helmet.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Snippets

The grass is growing back in the vacant lots around my house.

Japanese beetles are decimating my collard greens. Nonetheless, there was enough to harvest for a meal.



The new rentals down the street are accepting Section 8/CHAC vouchers and the grass is starting to look like a bag of ass (again).

It official: The neighbors from hell have moved next door. More on that later.

And if you didn't know it already, I'm very quotable. Read the latest story on yours truly. Note: If you're prompted to sign up for a newsletter, blow past the screen by clicking on the enter link to progress to the article.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bullshit

Per my Twitter post, the parties at the Metropolitan still continue.

You know the thing that absolutely kills me?

Is that these parties wouldn’t happen if this facility was located in Hyde Park.

Or even next to Rev. Finney’s home.

For those of you who don't know, the Metropolitan is housed in the former Christ Apostolic Church which moved to Bronzeville several years ago. Public records indicate that the building is still owned by the The Woodlawn Organization which is closely identified with the good Reverend.

I’ll bet money that if this foolishness happened in his neighborhood, that his neighbors would have him tarred and feathered.

Yet for the sake of the almighty dollar, my block has to play host to groups of people who cannot seemingly act like respectful human beings.

Kind readers, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again---Whoever is booking these parties is courting disaster in so many ways it boggles the mind.

This facility is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Security and/or supervision are non-existent.

Seemingly anyone who has the money can rent the facility.

Guidelines---What’s that?

It also seems that a majority of the groups that patronize the Metropolitan also attract a crowd that believes it’s a good idea to throw their empty liquor bottles and trash on the parkway.

Saturday morning the ‘hood looked green and pastoral, Sunday morning it looked like unadulterated shit.

It looked like a trash hurricane rolled through this bitch and deposited every liquor and beer bottle advertised on billboards saturating this side of town.

Now you would think that Mt. Carmel’s lawn crew would pick up the trash as they mow the lawn.

Unfortunately that is not the case.

Instead of picking up the trash, they simply throw it in the street compounding the problem.

Bottles break, gutters are blocked with debris, when it rains the street becomes a swamp.

Delightful. Simply fucking delightful.

So the question is this: Rev. Finney, why is this allowed to happen?

Oh yeah---

Have someone pickup the trash that is all over the Metropolitan’s lawn. It looks horrible.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shoes

It's your turn to talk back.

Tell me about the wearers of these three pairs of shoes. Who are they? What do they do for a living? Where were the pictures shot?

Let's see if your perception equals reality.





Monday, July 20, 2009

Just Wondering

Jobs---Check.

A store full of fresh fruits and vegetables---Check.

Partnering in key community inititives---Check.

Tax Revenue---Check.

So why can't this Walmart get built?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mystery Solved?

It appears that the mystery of the rehabbed building down the street has been solved.

It’s a rental. A few tenants are already in the building.

I’m gonna be honest with you, I really thought the project was going to go condo.

Why?

The finishes seem above the basic contractor staples that you see throughout most rental buildings.

The floors are gleaming (Real wood? Laminate?) and the appliances are stainless.

You heard me right---stainless.

That’s some high livin’ those kids are doing down there.

All this begs the question, is the building owner renting out the units until the real estate market turns around or is this their first development?

Because who would put high end finishes and a stainless appliance package in a rental?

This ought to be interesting.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enough

Blaming Burr Oak families for this tragedy is like blaming Catholic families for not keeping their children away from pedophile priests.

Now mind your manners and act like decent human beings.

That is all.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Heavy Sigh

Frank (or one of his relatives)has decimated the flowers on the back porch.

My refrigerator just died yesterday.

This is on top of the huge vet bill AND the unemployment countdown.

Do not be surprised when the Paypal tip jar appears in the sidebar---it's coming.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Turn About, Part 2 or Who’s Really In Charge?

As I observed earlier, the proximity of urban living and natural living often provide for some interesting sights.

This is perfectly underscored when I go to tend to my little piece of paradise in the urban garden.

As a side note, I find it somewhat hilarious that my maternal grandparents came up from Mississippi in the great migration so I wouldn’t have to do this for a living.

That makes it deliciously ironic that I do this of my own accord.

Because of this, the urban garden is lovingly referred to as the plantation.

The glaring difference is that I don’t have to worry about an overseer with a bullwhip. I have to worry about ducking golf balls.

I wonder if slave holders seriously pondered the effective use of lobbing golf balls at the free labor pool as a means of physical intimidation.

I think they could have seriously saved money on security costs by simply installing a golf course next to the cotton fields.

Then it would have made the balls difficult to find.

But I digress…

As I tended to my fledging vegetables I noticed that a murder of crows quietly amassed on the new pergola.

They just sat there and seemingly stared at me.

I had already put two and two together and realized that they were just waiting for me to leave as my plot is close to someone who’s growing corn. Those bad boys just wanted to ravage the stalks for anything they could get.

At that time, I also noticed some shady, questionable gents loitering along the path.

You know the type---shiftless looking, poorly dressed in ill fitting attire who only come to a public park for reasons that isn’t entirely recreational.

At least in the “legal” sense.

The thought that popped in my head was “Great, I have two groups of murderers within twenty feet of me. They should get together and start singing ‘If I See An Elephant Fly’ from Dumbo.”

I started giggling. Sometimes I just slay myself with my own rapier like wit.

Luckily for me both groups eventually moved on.

As I was locking up, I heard a rustle by the tree line.

Much to my amazement (but not surprise) a HUGE raccoon came out and crossed in front of me.

I think he was just as befuddled to see me as I was to see him.

Like most of my other neighbors, I know he exists but I hardly expect to see him.

As he lumbered across my path with one eye on his destination and the other on me, I could have sworn he chucked the deuces my way.

Seeing that some of my animal neighbors could at times have rabies, I cut a wide berth around my masked friend.

When he reached a thicket of wild field greens and started to dig, I just looked. I didn’t want him to think I was trying to get anywhere near his territory.

Plus I was pondering how strong the fence was around the urban garden.

As he was searching for food, he looked up as if to say---“Is there something else I can help you with?”

I caught the hint and started walking home.

But the last critter in this hit parade of urban fauna is a cute little bunny I usually pass as I walk home from the train on Dorchester.

Or at least what I thought was one cute little bunny.

That, my friends, is literally a story unto itself.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Rack 'Em

I swear that animals will be the death of me.

After almost a week at the vet's due to severe constipation (don't ask), my cat Midas has racked up a whopping $327.81 vet bill.

Looming unemployment and now MORE debt.

Jesus take the wheel.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Turn About

I really love where I live.

That feeling only heightens in the summer time.

Now you’ve heard me piss and moan about trash, my neighbors---both in and out of the association and crime.

And make no mistake all are important factors in the livability of a neighborhood.

But despite all of that, I thank my lucky stars that I actually live within a stone’s throw from the site of the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

The impact of the fair cannot only be read on the pages of The Devil In White City, but also in Jackson Park and it’s lagoons parked off of Lake Michigan.

And as one can expect, that park is teeming with wildlife.

At any given moment I can witness a hustler in the middle of Stony Island selling laundry bags and socks while traffic completely stops to let a family of geese cross.

The urban/suburban juxtaposition boggles the mind.

The fact that you can have an occasional drive by shooting and see a raccoon larger than a dog going through your trash can make for an interesting neighborhood balancing act.

Frankly I think the animals that live by our side are so used to us that they consider us the attraction.

They very well may think that they are living in an open air human habitat in a very large zoo.

Now that I’m the farmer in the ‘hood I get to see just how our wild four legged friends interact with urban gardens and golf balls.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Garden Progress


Tuscany? No, just the entrance to the Urban Garden off the first tee of the Jackson Park Golf Course.


Side shot of the garden.


Garden overview. Those small plants on the outer rim are marigolds. They're supposed to keep the pests away.


Only two of my four collard green plants have really taken off. Check out my huge tomato plant on the far right.


Collard greens close up.


The peppers are starting to take off. They need the warm weather to really start growing.


Mr. Tomato plant.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

D-Day

My job ends July 31st.

Unless my contracting company can find me another immediate gig or something miraculous happens, I’m back waitressing.

Paying my bills (and debt) on a waitress gig (again!)---that ought to be interesting.

I so miss having a good FICO score.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

…And While We’re At It

I have it on good authority that the Roosevelt Collection is going rental instead of condo due to the housing meltdown.

To those in the know this ain’t exactly groundbreaking news.

My source also tells me that the earnest money is due to be refunded “in a timely manner.”

Now does that mean timely in a “it took you less than 48 hours to cash my check” type of way or timely in “If you piss me off I’ll make you wait for your money---and you’ll be lucky to get it” type of way?

Due to crappy protections afforded to home and condominium buying consumers, will everything be dragged out until the legal statute of limitation to recover earnest monies run out.

*Cough* Theatre District Lofts*Cough*

Time will tell.

But here’s something to ponder during your day.

While the pundits say that the economic pitfalls of this recession are easing, there are those of us out here in the real world who would beg to differ.

Worrying about money is a new thing to some people.

They played by the rules, they saved and invested and didn’t initially worry when they lost their jobs.

But then three months stretched into six and six months into a year.

And despite cutting their spending and living carefully, their money has run out.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, the shit is really hitting the fan.

Down payment money that was flowing so freely a few years ago is now the difference between putting food on the table and having to apply (and be rejected) for a Link card.

That money is the difference between making your mortgage payment and moving in with the relatives.

Yesterday’s yuppie or sink (Single Income No Kids) is today’s marginalized worker.

But marginalized on not, they want their money back.

Unlike other marginalized workers of old, this bunch is a lot more savvy and vocal.

I hypothesize that they will find a way to get their money back.

Whether it’s via social media, networking, writing elected officials or overhauling the whole freaking system, someone is going to make it happen.

‘Cause this time it’s not just the little guy who’s getting his house bulldozed by the city.

Everything’s been flipped on its head and now people are finding themselves in positions their grandparents and parents worked very hard to rise above.

This new class of marginalized worker is not used to being ignored.

Let’s just hope that change will come through positive and productive means and not as a result of chaos and upheaval.

But in the meantime the revolution might be forestalled if people were refunded the earnest money that’s rightfully theirs.

Just a thought.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Uptown Foolishness

The guessing game of the day:

Exactly when will buyers in the unfinished phase (phases?) of the Theatre District Lofts receive their earnest money back?

It's been over a year.

Looks like the lawsuits are starting to pile up concerning this little fiasco.

Just asking...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hold Up

Yes, I know we’re all shocked and pissed by the Honorable John Fleming’s ruling.

But leave it to those kids at the Chicago Reader to show that this type of thing isn’t so uncommon.

Perhaps it’s time to focus outrage on the process that lets violent abusers walk and get the flipping laws changed.

And yes, that would require vigilance, follow-up and perhaps a letter or two to your state elected officials.

Most of us know that it’s not okay to beat on anyone but as the Reader article illustrates, this wasn’t the first time someone got their clock cleaned and the offender got a slap on the wrist.

Judge was simply the messenger.

No need to shoot him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Zing

About a month ago, the bricks came raining down from the façade on the Blackstone side of our building.




Yes, dear readers---we’re having façade issues again.

Except this time it was a different section.

Once again we were lucky that no one got hurt. But unlike the last time, our little mishap didn’t go unnoticed.

Hence the love note from the city.

How did I find out?

Easy---the city sent out the notifications to the last information that they had on file. Seeing that no one has bothered to file an annual report or bothered to change our registered agent with the state, the city decided to send notification to anyone they could find.

That included my address.

Now before I get on my soap box, I will acknowledge a few things in defense of my neighbors who are doing the heavy lifting.

The focus at the time was on paying off our existing special assessment and continuously following up on those members severely behind in their monthly assessments.

That hand you see being raised would be mine. Guilty as charged.

The rigors of dealing with association business and your own personal life has been known to drive a person batty. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Watching your lay about neighbors make excuse after excuse on why they either won’t or can’t help; listening to empty promise after empty promise can wear on your nerves.

I can understand the frustration for those of you who take the mantle of leadership upon your shoulders.

I can also understand why you’d want to slap the living dog piss out of your neighbors.

Nonetheless, the burden is yours to bear until you say you don’t want it anymore.

So as long as you control the money or are on the board---you have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the association.

That means filing the correct paperwork with governmental bodies.

That means applying for the refuse rebate from the city.

That means following up on capital projects despite the fact that no one wants to hear about another special assessment.

Because when you don’t----well---you have our little situation.

I personally used to handle those initially insignificant tasks that come back to bite you in the ass but personal matters got in the way.

Then the unemployment.

Then I was told I was a bad neighbor.

At that point, I decided why should I use my talents and connections for people who don’t fully appreciate them?

I’ve showed everyone what was needed to be done.

If you’re too busy or too lazy to print out a piece of paper, fill it out and find supporting documentation---shame on you.

I’m done enabling a group of grown ups.

I know it’s not all about me. I simply dug down deeper than most are willing to do and found the answers we needed for our multiples situations.

It’s not like I’m curing cancer.

But it appears that in my absence, things have been handled in a less than efficient manner.

Your condo is your home, you have to treat the association like a business.

Or at the very least insure that the city doesn’t come snooping around.

Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, we have completely stepped in it---the proverbial shit is getting ready to hit the fan.

My concern is that when we get these violations repaired that our cash strapped city will find new ones.

If the city is trying to collect on Bears season ticket holders PSL's, anything's possible.

I predict that this is not gonna turn out well.