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Bang bang

August 14, 2010

Not to dissuade anyone from checking out my garden on Sunday, but my occasionally I’m reminded that my house is in the ghetto (because getting robbed didn’t do it).

Paul and I were hanging out in our office earlier, listening to music, and heard something loud going on outside.  Something loud turned out to be gun shots from one car to another in front of our freaking house.  The cars drove away, so I have no idea if anyone was actually shot, but still no bueno.

Break-ins I can deal with.  Everyone has those.  But idiots with guns piss me off/scare the shit out of me/make me want to move.  It’s weird, but when you live in the ghetto there is actually reason to occasionally be excited about the return of cold, rainy winter.  Rain means people stay in their houses, which means less bad stuff going down (at least in public).  It’s true.

Sorry parents.  You probably didn’t want to know this.

I’m going to go drink a glass of wine.

Look, it's a cute picture of a puppy to distract you from what I just said!

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Dad permalink
    August 14, 2010 1:42 am

    I just poured myself two fingers of whiskey. Maybe three.

    We have a spare bedroom that you guys can use until the turf war settles down in a year or so.

  2. August 14, 2010 2:20 am

    WHAT?! That is *so* unsettling. Hope the cold wet weather settles everyone down for a bit.

    And yeah, totally should have offered to drive that extra leg to Little House!

  3. August 14, 2010 3:22 am

    I’m so sorry. Glad you weren’t hurt.

  4. Vanesa permalink
    August 14, 2010 4:56 am

    Geese, that’s awful. I hope the rest of the summer months are less eventful – fall and winter will come soon.

  5. August 14, 2010 7:22 am

    Been reading your posts, and kind of wondered when that part of the Neighborhood would sink in. It’s been that way for almost a half-century and has a very interesting history. I don’t know the current status of things, my days there were 20 years ago before I moved to take on the job of caregiving for my mother. She was a reading specialist and also lived in Oak Park and had a private reading clinic in her home. She did most of her work with Oak Park kids on a pro bono basis, but had to move when it finally was clear she couldn’t get paying clients from other neighborhoods because they were literally afraid to drive to her clinic. That and a rap and several robberies didn’t help either. I lived there for many years afterward and became an unsuccessful activist at trying to improve things in the community. What I found about the history of the area (which used to be an upper-middle class neighborhood before the flight to the suburbs in the 50’s and 60’s was that it was engineered with the building of the two freeways that virtually it off from invested city life (Land Park & Midtown) and was used as a dumping ground for the impoverished and lower classes that the city wanted to remove from downtown. Downtown has always been the seat of power here, and has aggressively and jealously guarded its social and economic prerogatives. I don’t know how it is now, but we found that the various service organizations that settled into Oak Park were also a big part of the problem. For all their could intentions, rhetoric and ‘poster successes’ , the last thing they wanted was real change. Their jobs were predicated on having an under population to serve, and they kept it that way, though there were individuals within those institutions that undeniably did good work. The Neighborhood council was generally ineffective and partly corrupt – an old boyz club for passing out favors (a policeman who sat on it was one of the biggest slumlords in the community; the Council President didn’t even live or work in the neighborhood, though the by-laws required it, and other irregularities and manipulations of the public were commonplace. & oh yes, SHRA and its political agenda and general lack of imagination (been trading favors with the commercial sector for too long) also figured importantly in why the situation has persisted. As for guns – wait until New Year’s when you can make an actual inventory of the weapons stockpile in the community. Once a year, a lot of people start shooting in the air to let you know what weaponry is on hand. One thing I learned, on the block where I lived is that leaving a potential trouble house, or unsavory/intimidating types hanging out for more that a few days past the time they are first noticed is way too long. We finally did clean up our block and remained relatively trouble free for some years when we learned that and got on the phone to the police, the mayor, the coucilman and any one else we could think of to clean up a problem fast. Otherwise, it takes only a week or so for those creeps to settle in and spread enough fear and intimidation to make it difficult to root them out. It’s the first sign, the first few days that are critical (to talk it with other neighbors and start to demand quick action). Like I said, I don’t know anything about the current state of the neighborhood, but gather from what I’ve read, that it hasn’t changed much. &, it’s not the people – there are one hell of a lot of very good people in Oak Park. Its more that their capacity for hope and dream (let alone act on their dreams) has been badly damaged. The other obstacles are just ‘mop up crews’ for any one/thing that happens to really start thinking out-of-the-box about change and challenging the status quo.

    Well, that’s probably more than you and your parents wanted to hear. But I do wish you good luck. It’s worth fighting for, if you’ve a mind to do that. But its an old, old problem and is not going to give up its grip easily. It will take some extraordinarily creative and imaginative effort for that too happen. But then, this is the 21st century, and perhaps a new generation with new energy and ideas can make some headway. I certainly hope so. As Diane DiPrima wrote, “The only war that matters is the war against the imagination.”

  6. Dad permalink
    August 14, 2010 3:47 pm

    This happened on our street last night in sleepy Palo Cedro. Woke Mom up. She didn’t hear the gunfire, but heard the sirens and heard the vehicles go by at high speed.

    http://www.redding.com/news/2010/aug/14/chp-officers-shoot-vehicle-during-chase/

  7. Katie permalink
    August 14, 2010 6:08 pm

    Hooboy. I lived in a neighborhood like yours (not in Oak Park) during college, and finally moved after our second break in. We’d had enough.

    Part of me hopes you don’t give up. I do want you to be safe though.

    Good luck.

  8. August 14, 2010 10:30 pm

    Oh gosh! Did anyone call the cops?
    I live in the ghetto in Chicago as well – Humboldt Park, and can totally relate. Luckily my street isn’t as bed as the ones west, but the key for us has been talking to our law-abiding neighbors as much as possible and calling the cops when we notice anything suspicious – even if you just want a routine drive by to feel secure.

    I was robbed last fall on my street at knife point, and am really looking forward to the snow so most of these criminals will go away!

    Stay safe.

    • inoakpark permalink*
      August 17, 2010 4:23 am

      Carey-We called the cops. They came very fast, which was nice but I’m not sure what they found.

  9. Matt J. permalink
    August 17, 2010 4:05 am

    We heard a single shot near 34th & T as we were riding bikes home from Second Saturday about 9:00. I wonder if it was the same cars?

    That’s the first time in four years I’ve heard close gunfire while outside. It was slightly unnerving. In my own house, to be honest, I don’t worry at all. It’s just idiots with .22’s. Those won’t even make it through a wall.

    @stopcalexpo: Since Paul is now the Neighborhood Council President, I’m hoping things have now gotten less corrupt!

    • inoakpark permalink*
      August 17, 2010 4:41 am

      Matt-The guys down the street, who seem like they’d know a thing or two about guns, were insisting it was a glock 9 due to the speed it was firing at. It doesn’t shake me too badly if I’m inside, but I spend a fair amount of time in my front yard and it does worry me that people shooting 9mm’s in front of my house could be a problem if I was working in my garden.

  10. August 18, 2010 7:13 pm

    @matt J: I don’t know Paul, but if he wishes he can email me at red at-sign holopoet.com and I’d be glad to share a few ideas/stories.

    • inoakpark permalink*
      August 18, 2010 7:44 pm

      If you are interested in talking to paul about neighborhood issues, it’s best to do so at the oak park neighborhood association meetings.

      • August 18, 2010 8:18 pm

        n’import. it was just a little personal invitation if Paul was interested (&frankly, I’m very busy, there just isn’t enough sand left in my hourglass to visit other neighborhood meetings). But thanx.

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