Monday, September 05, 2005

The Yellow House has a Party

Everybody has parties in my neighborhood. When it first warmed up in June, I made some noise complaints to the cops because it was 2 a.m. on Saturday and I guess I was the only one planning to go to 9 a.m. Mass. So why do I care if the yellow house has a party?

The yellow house is on the northwest corner of the intersection north of my house. It's where there are guys frequently hanging out selling drugs. I think some of them knew the guys who got killed in my house. I met one guy last fall, drunk and smelling of alcohol at 7:30 a.m., who told me his version of the fire in my house, which featured cops spitting on the corpses and a near riot breaking out. It could be true. I haven't seen that particular guy on the corner that much, but I got more afraid as I lived there longer and have not gotten close enough to take a good look.

Last winter, I met a guy named Jose who moved into the yellow house with his family. He seemed very nice. The family had fallen on hard times--I gather Jose had lost his job and the family was forced to leave their home in Brighton Park for somewhere cheaper. His oldest son was at Curie. He asked me to pray for him and his family. I did. They ended up moving east of Ashland, because they didn't feel safe in a house where drug dealers stand out front day and night.

Over the summer, I was walking down the block and some guys were sitting on the stoop next door to the yellow house. "Prime fucking example," one of them said as I approached. He repeated himself, I'm pretty sure with intent I should hear. "Prime fucking example." Sounds like they think the neighborhood is changing, and not for the better from their point of view.

I was calling the cops on them last fall but this summer have been a bit afraid of them spotting a causal relationship between me walking by and cops appearing if i call too soon after seeing them. In the fall, sans foliage, I can see to the corner from inside my house, but not in full summer leaf. And I'm not here in the afternoon, when I actually think there's more trouble.

The owner finally showed up at the August CAPS meeting, saying she and her husband want those guys gone, too. She said none of their tenants are black. I hate to say it but that makes it easier for me to decide to call, since now I know for sure none of them live there.

I don't know what happened in the last month, because I thought I remembered seeing guys out there a couple of times, but last night I went past the yellow house and there was loud music blaring. Mexican music--accordions and polka-like. The front door on the first floor was open and I could see an older man in a white Stetson two-stepping with a woman. There were guys on the corner. They were Latino. There were little kids. They could have played til two in the morning and I wouldn't have said a word. I hope it's not the last party at the yellow house.


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Clayton said...

Don't you hate these stupid spammers? I get them on my blog too.

I recently moved into the Austin neighborhood, which can be a little rough but it doesn't sound like it's quite as intense as yours. My new place is a block east of Austin ave, so there's a very surreal dividing line between Austin and Oak Park. If I ride my bike, within 60 seconds I can be surrounded by either boarded up houses with groups of guys selling drugs out front or mansions and an all-white population walking their expensive dogs.

I've been feeling a bit down lately about living there --- I'm used to being able to walk to a coffee shop, to a bar, to just walk around the neighborhood. It's very different now --- the only things I could really walk to are liquor stores and Long John Silvers. I've gotten pretty close with a neighbor across the corner from me, and he tells me all the neighbors wonder what in the world I could be doing there. He says every single one is convinced I'm either an undercover cop or an FBI mole. One guy was certain I was a Nazi and was using the house as a storage facility for nazi materials and as a meeting house for skinheads. Apparently, it's just not possible that a white guy would be just living there, so there must be some other kind of explanation.

Anyway, I was feeling a bit down, as I said, and a mutual friend turned me onto your blog. It's great. I admire your activism and the way you have integrated yourself into the neighborhood there --- I'm a little bit more of a private person so I haven't really engaged my new neighborhood other than getting to know my immediate neighbors. But reading about your experiences is really nice. Unfortunately there's a group of about 20 teenagers (not really a "gang" per se) who hang out across the street from me in an empty lot --- they yell and fight and carry on. Probably the noise level is the thing that I struggle with most --- have you gotten used to that? Is that an issue with you?

Anyway, if you'd like to check out my blog (about making a documentary film) let me know and I'll send you the link. I've gotten really annoyed at people using comment sections to publicize their own goings on so I won't do that here.

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