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Politics

Yuppies versus Hooligans

I was brought up to believe that gentrification is kind of a sad thing. The old-time working class families are pushed out by young, clean-cut, materialistic people who don’t know how to keep it real.

Brian told me there was another car fire this Saturday by Ekhart Park. I made a Republican face and said “Mark my words — we will gentrify you out of this neighborhood! You can run, but you can’t hide. Your people will be moved out beyond Aurora!”

This is former gang territory. When we went to court about Yayoi’s radio, the guy who did show up later stopped us on the way to our car and gave us this big sad story about how he is on parole, and he was just hanging out on the street at 2AM when the other guy was stealing the radio, and he’s scared, and the cops are harassing him because he used to be in the gangs, and they don’t want him back in the neighborhood. You could see on his face the scars of a rough life, and you could hear in his voice the kind of BS you get from panhandler con-men that you instinctively distrust. I felt a little bad for him because it is probably going to be extremely difficult for him to go legit. But I side with the cops — if he’s hanging out in the street in the middle of the night while crimes are being committed, I don’t want him in my neighborhood either.

Chicago has been dismantling the housing projects — and we are about a mile straight West of Cabrini Green — and replacing them with “scattered site” low income housing. I kind of like scattered site, but you can’t help believe that there’s never going to be enough scattered site housing for everyone who needs it. Even if it is a two-flat, neighbors are rarely thrilled at the prospect of low-income families, the kind that just may have reckless, frustrated teenage sons, living next to their $400,000 condos. Yayoi doesn’t like that they look different and cheaper than the surrounding housing because it makes them stand out. If they looked just like the surrounding condos, though, their wealthy neighbors who are paying a premium for comparable housin may feel even more resentful. What can you do?

The guy who ran our LSC training session told me what they’re doing. He said there were vast tract-housing projects, out beyond Aurora. He put it this way, “I never thought I’d see the day . . . but now we got Black Reservations!

In the “blue states” it is hard to see things as black and white. That’s why men of nuance and thoughtful contemplation like John Kerry appeal to us.

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Categories: Politics