Sunday, April 21, 2013


So, what happened to everybody? Three years later, here's the rundown: Picasso is locked up. He's serving 40 years in Menard for attempted murder. I still don't know whether he really did it or not. I need to write him. Junior graduated from Golder College Prep. He's working and in his first semester at Malcolm X College. He wants to be a cop. He applied for deferred action--his dad is in deportation hearing. I wrote a letter to the judge on his behalf saying he rehabbed a vacant eyesore and is raising three fine sons in this neighborhood. I wish every father in the hood was as stable, hardworking and decent as he is. Junior's younger brother is about to start Golder as a freshman next September. Peter Pan and his family lost their house to foreclosure. They moved way south. The younger kids were at Chavez for a year or so but they've basically vanished. The house was in terrible shape. The Resurrection Project bought the property and razed the house. It's now a fenced-in, vacant lot covered in gravel. Alicia and Tone-Loc moved to Joliet. Their younger cousins, two girls, are starting to be buddies with my son. Sarah's family bought Dawn's old house. That is the best news our block has had in the last three years, if you ask me. Of course, they saved my property values by buying the foreclosure next door and fixing it up into quite a pretty, landscaped property. It looks nicer than ours does. Sarah's two cousins live next door and the younger one is just six months older than my son. They play together when it's warm outside. There's a Chinese family living in the new construction house bought by the gay couple. I don't know if they rent it or own it. The Bradys are all still here. Two Brady girls are in college--one at North Park and one at Denison. Their cousin, Oldest Brady Boy, is still working on graduating from high school but I think he's gonna do it in June. His younger brother is doing really well--so well he's surprised himself. He's going camping for two weeks this summer. Dorothy has had a million health problems. She's now in a nursing home in Bronzeville. I went to see her a couple of times, but I haven't been there since before Christmas.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Farewell for Now

Well, dear readers, it's no secret I haven't been able to keep up with this blog since my son was born. At this point, I think it's best to call a halt to the Tattler and start up again when he's older.

Interestingly, we're at a narrative stopping point, too. It's a sad ending. The house next door where Dawn and Joey used to live is now for sale. Their parents lost it to foreclosure back in June. Dawn and her baby, and her boyfriend are all living with her father in Little Village. Joey was bouncing back and forth between his mom and dad, mostly with his mom through the school year. The good news for Joey is he did graduate from 8th grade at Chavez. I was able to see him at the Reading Fair where he had a presentation on Al Capone, and at graduation. I don't know what he is going to do for high school. I advised him to try to get into the Multicultral Arts School at Little Village High School if he is living in the attendance area.

Their mom was here in the house until the bitter end. At first I heard she was renting from School Lady but Peter Pan's mom told me she isn't. I don't know where she is now. I have Dawn's number but honestly I have enough on my own plate at the moment and have not been tempted to call. Dawn and her mother gave us a bunch of Angel's old toys--they are in a stack in the basement, waiting for me to wash them off (they're pretty dusty).

For years, Dawn's father had been promising to put up a fence on the border between their house and ours. He never got around to it. When it became clear the bank would take the house, he took down the lovely wrought-iron fence in front he had welded himself. So we were right back to people sitting on the underlying bricks, hanging out and drinking. (I think nobody was dealing drugs this time, but probably that was going on too, and I just missed it.) Dawn tried to get me to hire her dad to fence between the two houses, but I hired through Isabel's brother-in-law instead. I wanted to be sure the job got done. Now there's a tall, black, iron fence where Angel used to play. But now I feel safer.

Back of the Yards Retail Study--Food Oasis, Growing Middle Income Families

The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and LISC/Metro Edge recently released a retail scan of the neighborhood, highlights of which you can see here.

Some info that jumped out at me:
Our neighborhood attracts folks from other nearby communities, who come here to shop for groceries and furniture. I've seen that on the Ashland bus--people come up from Englewood to shop here, so the southbound bus gets fuller at 47th Street. (The study says general merchandise but I would say more specifically clothing is also popular, thanks to the Burlington Coat Factory outlet at 47th and Damen.)

Swap-O-Rama is a big retail draw. No duh, but still, it's important to point that out as an asset to the neighborhood. The flea market also employs neighborhood residents, many of whom would have trouble getting traditional jobs.

Our neighborhood has held on to its population, has more young people than the city average, and has seen its share of households earning more than $50,000/yr. rise by over 20 percent since 2000. Today, nearly a quarter of neighborhood households are bringing home that much money annually. This is all good news that might surprise some people.

We don't have enough appliance and electronics stores to meet demand. Famsa made a smart choice by putting a store in the old Goldblatt's building. Although Famsa is primarily a furniture store, they also sell appliances and electronics. According to the data, a Best Buy or Abt would do well to set up shop here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back of the Yards Newspaper Hit the Streets Today

Congratulations to the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council on the successful launch of the new community newspaper. Currently, it's a newspaper in search of a name/un periodico en busca de un nombre (please excuse the lack of correct accent marks--I really must learn how to do that on Blogger).

Unfortunately, I missed the launch party yesterday evening, but my copy was in front of my house by about 10:30 this morning. If you don't live in the neighborhood and haven't received a hard copy, you can click here here to read the issue online as a pdf.

The lead story is about the delay in building the long-awaited new high school at 47th and Hoyne. 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas is quoted saying, "We need a high school now. We need to put pressure on CPS and particularly the Board. I want to take a group of students and a group of parents to the board meetings."

Just say the word, Ald. Cardenas. I'll be happy to bring my six-month-old son along, in hopes the neighborhood gets this school before he's a freshman.

Oh, and in the interests of full disclosure, I'm very happy they chose to print an edited version of my post about our local post office, which was recently saved from the chopping block.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Paper for Back of the Yards Coming Next Week

Watch for the new community newspaper for Back of the Yards--if you live here, it's coming to your mailbox Feb. 17!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Breaking News: New Commish, Street Vendor Crackdown, More Local Media Coming,

Three quick hits:

Congratulations to Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who handily defeated incumbent Joseph Mario Moreno in yesterday's Democratic primary. You can see the results by ward and precinct at the Board of Election's website. Click on the far left button, then search for "February 2010 Primary Democratic" and then "Cook County Commissioner 7th District." Happy to see he won in the 16th!

This morning over at Park Federal Savings Bank, street vendors met to determine how to respond to a recent crackdown on their business from the 9th District. There was a news truck out front, but I'm not sure what outlet it was from. To some, perhaps, the issue is straightforward--a few years ago a North Side alderman attempted to ban corn vendors from her ward, if memory serves. Chicago does license and regulate street vendors; I have no idea how many of the carts on 47th have actually gotten licenses. Apparently local storefront businesses are fed up with litter from the street vendors. Our new commander in the 9th may have other concerns; I don't know. To me, street vendors are classic American entrepreneurs and should be encouraged within reasonable limits around licensing and sanitation. So I hope the vendors, storefronts, and cops can find a happy middle ground.

Last item: watch for a new bilingual paper to hit the streets here in Back of the Yards later this month! Here at the Tattler, I'm delighted to see a print media outlet opening up to showcase what's going on in our neighborhood, and look forward to cross-pollination with the folks at Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council who are putting it together. Watch for young writers to get a voice over there in the upcoming months, too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cook County 7th District Race Heats Up

Back of the Yards is part of Cook County's 7th District, and the race for commissioner heated up over the weekend, with Mark Brown's Sun Times column revealing incumbent Joseph Mario Moreno is skirting campaign finance law. A drug company with a county contract contributed $25,000 to the political action committee that hosted a fundraising dinner for Moreno. By law, county contractors can contribute no more than $1500 to candidates for county commissioner. But a PAC can contribute an unlimited amount to a candidate. This is known as "soft money."

What this story says to me is Moreno fears his challenger, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, enough to go after some big bucks to defend himself. Interestingly, this doesn't seem to have made him run scared enough to get some boots on the ground--while Garcia's people have been out and about doorknocking in the neighborhood, I haven't heard a peep from Moreno people. Their only evidence of existence is the signs in the businesses along 47th and down Ashland--they did a good job of getting their signs out.

However, it looks like Garcia has done a better job of gathering endorsements. Read the Trib's glowing praise for him here. And check out the list of other endorses at his web site. I've only received one piece of mail from the Moreno side so far. Instead of official endorsements, it contained photos and a set of quotations about Moreno from a variety of local leaders, including Craig Chico of Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and Fr. Bruce Wellems of Holy Cross/IHM. Thing is, you can't really tell if they were endorsing Moreno's candidacy or if they were just saying in effect, oh yeah, he's a nice guy. I'd like to know how that mailer got put together.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Rick Bayless Wears No-Manches

Chicago's dean of gringos cooking gourmet Mexican, Rick Bayless, has been spotted wearing Back of the Yards business No Manches t-shirts on his TV show, Mexico One Plate at a Time. Wish I had access to some photos, but I don't--he's been seen wearing "Greengo" and "Hecho in Chicago," among others.

Congratulations to local boys Jesse Iniguez and Rolando Santoyo for the exposure!

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