March 2017 Archives

Over the past month I've been enthralled with an album where the lyrics have made me stop and think. It's Sho Baraka's Narrative, but there is something from My Hood USA, 1937 which made me think of Shaw and well Truxton Circle.

As part of the Triangle Known as Truxton Circle art show (if you missed it, your loss) I had a map for residents to place a pin where they lived so we could see where our audience was from. The map wound up being a little confusing because the pins were colored and the colors on the original map pointed to types of different businesses in the neighborhood.
In the song My Hood USA, 1937 a few of the lyrics go like this:
All we got is liquor stores next to a Burger King
Next to a pawn shop, next to a Dairy Queen
Next to the China shop, next to the gas station
Next to the five churches, next to the building that's vacant

To my knowledge we've never had a Burger King or a Dairy Queen or a pawn shop, but churches, Chinese restaurants and gas stations, yup! We've had those. You may have to see the image in Flickr to see the six liquor stores (seen in brown) in NW Truxton existing in 1970. The other business that populated the TC in 1970 were barber or beauty shops (red), another staple of depressed neighborhoods. Not to fault barbershops, they're in nice upper class neighborhoods too, just not so many it seems. Then you have corner (and not on the corner) grocery stores in orange. We had one drug store, represented by green, on North Cap. I'll bet money it was a People's Drug (surviving People's Drugs are CVS'). The blue is "other convenience". Looking across the street on New Jersey Ave NW, I know one of those blues was a laundromat before it was converted into residential housing.
What this map doesn't show are the vacant buildings. There were vacant buildings when I showed up over a decade ago. Vacant commercial properties. Vacant residential properties. Yes, gentrification brought displacement, but there were many places where there was no one to displace, just an empty brick box with plywood windows someone used to call home.
I'm not even going to get into the "next to the five churches" thing. There were so many churches, storefront and steeple, that would be another blog post.
Sho touches upon the make up of a neighborhood in other songs. In Forward, 1619 he raps " In between white supremacy and black nihilism; AME churches, corner stores and the prison systems". In Kanye, 2009 "And why ain't no Whole Foods in the hood? All I see is fast food here, can we eat good?" ... "Less pawn shops and liquor stores and We Buy Gold".
When I visited Chicago for my "2008 Gentrification Tour" driving through the middle class and downtown neighborhoods I noticed what businesses were around. Lotsa chiropractors' offices in 2008. Looking around TC and Shaw today, our great industry is feeding people and selling mundane to interesting drinking opportunities. We need to diversify, and find other commercial ventures not dependent on people's oral and digestive parts.

So my neighbor's house caught on fire....

| No Comments
4thAfterFiredamageNot my next door neighbor, but the family across the street. Their house.
I found out about it after my spouse called me to ask if I was seeing all the traffic on our block's email list group. Once I saw all the emails I figured out whose house was on fire and since the owner and I did a few things that I thought would help. Speaking with someone we know in common, the owner is upset, but also upset about how the fire was portrayed in the news. So I'm not going to talk about it in any detail, out of respect for her and her family.

I will talk about the importance of support systems. The email list mentioned that the nearby church reached out to help. I also know someone from the mayor's office stopped by to offer help. Not sure if her own church got back to her, but they are aware of her situation. And the Red Cross provided hotel accommodations. The Red Cross is great for providing the most meaningful help quickly and I would give them money if they didn't pimp out my contact information (many non-profits do). When the block experienced a flood a decade back, they were out at my house with mops and cleaning supplies before the insurance claims inspector showed up. But most obviously were the many family members and friends who came out to pull things out of the house and go through papers and things to find what was salvageable. Her family was out there for two days helping and assisting.

A year or so back a friend of mine's apartment was destroyed by fire. In another unit, another tenant who was experiencing some personal issues, started a fire. My friend was able to escape with his laptop and more importantly, his life. I've noticed he too has a great support system, as he was able to stay with at a friend's while he dealt with the aftermath. He had renter's insurance and gently declined our offers of money and stuff. The hardest part it seemed was going through all the things not obviously destroyed by water.

Looking at my neighbor's house the aftermath will be hard. The fire did not tear the beautiful metal handrail off the building. There are a bunch of things in black plastic contractor's bags, things that could not be saved. In order to do their job the firefighters tear doors off, break windows, and get a whole bunch of things wet. I'm not sure who is responsible for nailing the plywood up so thieves don't come through to steal your copper pipes or pilfer through floors undamaged by the ordeal. I can only gather the homeowner is responsible for calling a service vacuum up all the water that flowed to the basement. The water damage clean up people were there hours after the fire.

Lesson from all this? I would say check your smoke detectors but I got 8 frigging CO and smoke detectors in my house.... waaay too much work. However,  I will replace an old hardwired smoke detector. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you're supposed to replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. I'm slowly replacing those 8 alarms. Renter's/ Homeowner's insurance helps. And lastly, build up your support network.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2017 is the previous archive.

April 2017 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 4.34-en
Testy Test thing 4.34-en