Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Passive Aggressive

I recently had a long overdue conversation with a lovely neighbor who also happens to be a new mother.

Not only are her real life I-just-had-a-baby stories eye opening, but they are Hilarious.

Laugh out loud, breaking into coughing fits HI-LAR-IOUS.

So because she has a new baby, a husband, and various animals around the house, I figure I'm not going to add to the burden by fulfiling my requirment as the "wacky neighbor down the street."

Dropping in unanounced when you're trying to put down a fussy baby may not lead to further social invitations.

Luckily a few days ago I had the priviledge to speak to the little mother and catch up on life and all things Woodlawn.

As we chatted she happened to mention that conflict resolution among her family tends to skew toward passive agressive tactics.

I paused on the other end of the phone and said "Passive agressive? And you live around black people? How's that working out?"

"Not so much." She replied.

As a rule, I explained, black folk don't really respond to passive agressive. You pretty much have to let us know what you want---hinting around isn't gonna make the magic happen.

A cultural exchange, neighborhood gossip and new baby stories all in the same conversation.

Enough Already

A sight recently seen at the 55th & Lake Park Walgreens in Hyde Park.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Everyone Has One

I just couldn't take it anymore.

After tweeting about the trash, when I got dropped off this afternoon it had seemingly multiplied. Naturally I was forced to pick it up.

But you’ve got to have limits so I only tidied up in front of my building.

Of course now that the weather is warming up, people tend to be outside so it was inevitable that I get to see neighbors I haven't seen in months.

Today was no exception.

So when I happened upon neighbors X and Y, our conversation eventually turned to the trash that had gathered in front of our home.

Of course the conversion morphed into our maintenance man not being paid enough (their emphasis, not mine) and other topics.

Then neighbor Y stated that she had questions about certain things around our happy little home.

She was a relative newcomer so it was only to be expected.

I suggested that she might want to check into my blog for a historical perspective of our happy little community since I am one of a hand full of people who have been here since the property went converted.

From a slanted, biased Woody perspective of course.

By this time she was on a roll but did manage to tell me that she’s not really a “blog” person so she wouldn’t be reading my humble offerings.

At this point I knew I was listening to another person who had more opinions than solutions. Inevitably that would translate into zero work done on the association’s behalf.

While I’m not feeling the love for all of my neighbors right now, I will say I do know who will actually step up and work on behalf of the association and who will sit there and flippin’ complain all day.

So it was with this knowledge I listened while I continued to pick up the trash.

Because I was dealing with someone of the later mindset, not the former.

This was later confirmed as X and Y were walking away and Y commented that she “wasn’t going to pick up anything.”

So in the end I guess I’m doing the right thing by limiting my involvement in my association---don’t forget I’m the “bad neighbor.”

Because people with big talk along with big ideas but with no follow through are “all hat and no cattle"

Because everyone has an opinion.

That and $2.25 will get you on the bus.

The Hood Is A Twitter

There are a few things that some people had wished I had never discovered.

I’m sure my mother never wished I had discovered boys, my developer wished I had never discovered blogging and my waist line wished I had never discovered beer.

But those pale in comparison to my latest, greatest discovery----Twitter.

While it’s new to me, technologically savvy cats have been “tweeting” (the proper term for a Twitter message) for awhile now.

For those of you who don’t know, Twitter is basically Facebook on steroids. It allows you to send a short 140 character message about what you may be doing, feeling or thinking at any given moment.

That way you can update people who subscribe to your Twitter account with what’s going on in your everyday life.

AND you can link your account to a website or blog.

For me, it’s the perfect way to transmit what’s going on in the ‘hood via text message “tweets” without going through the process of updating my blog.

‘Cause you may be surprised to find out that I don’t exactly carry my laptop around with me everywhere. Plus the added adventure of potentially dodging bullets may necessitate that I have to duck for cover.

If I do, I may potentially damage my laptop. That would be really, really bad.

But as a blogger, the upside for me is that I may “tweet” something that I see and later give you guys the full blown story by turning it into an actual post.

If you look over in the left hand margin, you will see that I’ve already started making observations about the little patch of paradise I call home.

So check into the blog to see what I’m “tweeting” about or you also have the option to subscribe to my Twitter account directly.

I’m telling you this is gonna be great.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Flying Under The Radar

Clearly I have not been paying attention to the goings on in the neighborhood.

It might have been because I was (am?) putting my life back together after 11 months of unemployment (Note: Not as easy as one would think).

Or it might have been the brutality of this slow moving winter and my knee injury.

Or it might have been because my head may have been firmly ensconced up my ass.

Either way, I had no clue that there was (is) a gang turf war in our little patch of heaven.

At least I didn’t know until it erupted on Monday night resulting in the shooting death of a 15 year old.

While the violence was a shock, I was fully prepared for the negative comments that usually accompany the subsequent Tribune and Sun-Times stories about the incident.

Luckily, the Tribune disabled the comments section by the time I had read the article.

Perhaps they already knew the caliber of commenter and simply disabled the ability to comment from the beginning.

No matter how you feel, someone’s child is dead.

While the consequences that led up to that fact are important, at the very least you should err on the side of respect.

Yes, I understand that some people cause their own problems.

But a majority of comments on articles about urban crime are mean and tip toe right up the line of being racist.

So it was with this in mind that I steeled myself after reading the Tribune’s article.

But it was all for naught.

I will say this to you who feel that “some people,” specifically black people, don’t care about the communities where they reside.

Let me preface my statements by affirming that while I may speak for myself, I also happen to know a huge swath of other black folks who feel as I do.

Yes, we care about where we live even though some may not think so.

Yes, we call the police.

In my experience the places that are usually the worst on the block are owned by either people who live in the suburbs or well meaning social service agencies.

Ironic, huh?

So the suburban neighbor that you so enthusiastically great each day may be the single largest contributing cause to crime in any given neighborhood.

Go cluck your tongue and pass your judgments on them.

Because lax tenant screening + credit requirements + non-resident management = a recipe for disaster.

But what do they care?

They keep on getting money that supports their comfortable lifestyles in their practically crime free neighborhoods.

And these well meaning social service agencies are no better.

I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth so I very much understand people needing help.

So I know that a lack of financial resources does make you or your family bad people.

Yet because of the fact you or your family may not have the time or the resources to mount a time consuming, draining protest about issues in your neighborhood doesn’t mean you don’t care.

In fact, that’s what I think some dubious people look for.

They look for the people who are the hardest pressed and will squawk the least.

‘Cause it’s a hell of a thing holding down multiple jobs and/or raising children and/or staying on the straight and narrow AND trying to get people to do right by your neighborhood.

Trying to get long time institutions to respect where you live.

Trying to get landlords to treat your neighborhood with the same consideration that they treat their neighborhoods.

Trying to uncover the maze of LLC’s who illegally convert rentals to condos and leave them when they run out of money.

Trying to get the police to pay real attention to those no good thugs on the corner.

It’s exhausting.

If you let it, it can drain your essence.

Trying to fix something that has been broken for a long time takes patience and resourcefulness.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

That’s a pretty tall bill for working class people who may not be well versed in how the city that works really works.

For those of you who can’t see beyond race, look up how UIC got built and get back to me.

So when I see these cowards hide behind a comment section and spout off about “why those people in that neighborhood don’t do anything” I know they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Because I know that I care about where I live---my neighbors do too.

Some things just fly under the radar.

Monday, March 16, 2009

And So It Begins

I was greeted by the sight of police tape as I was taking out the trash this evening.

This was not gonna be good.

Apparently the beefin' between young men who live south of us and the young men who stand on the corner of my street and Stony Island reached a violent conclusion a little after 4:00 PM today.

A young man was shot twice in the field behind my home.

I don't know the status of his condition. I can only hope that he survives.

A few neighbors said that he was a part of the Stony clique that hangs out down the street.

They also said that he was 15.

So the young men to the south of us are armed and I'll bet you that the young men from down the street are probably arming themselves now.

The end result is that all of the rest of us will be caught in the middle of a pitched battle.

One with no winners.

God, it's gonna be a long fucking summer.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Question Mark

I haven't personally seen any work being done on any of these buildings in several months. In the case of the trio of buildings on 65th place I haven't seen workers on the premesis since early 2008.

It goes without saying that the Living Green Lofts were never built. That's the picture of the huge vacant lot and the pile of wood that used to be the sign annoucing the development.

The question is can the 'hood (and the city for that matter) survive another round of broken promises and broken buildings?

This building's residents have been MIA. I suspected that this was going to be converted to condos but nothing has hapened to indicate which course the current owner will take.

Brand new development on 65th Place that sits empty. It's only a matter of time before squatters or a bad element take hold.

The sign for Living Green Lofts sits in pieces after the development was never built.

The vacant lot where the Living Green Lofts were supposed to be built.