Saturday, May 31, 2008

Volunteer Graffiti Abatement (Here's To You, Ed Kohler)

Photos by John Hoff

This is not very far away from the utility box. After I got done, a man in an electric wheelchair with a little Pekingese dog rolled up, deposited a soda bottle, and said, "Thank you for doing that."

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Coming Out Of The Closet (As A Volunteer Graffiti Abater)

Photos by John Hoff

A story on Minn Post shot by Jacob and Gabe of "612 Authentic" inspired me to 'fess up to something I've been doing. Yes, blogger Ed Kohler has inspired me to "come out of the closet" as a volunteer graffiti abater...

Above you see a little bit of my handiwork. By the way, the exact shade of green of this type of utility box appears to be something called "hunter green."

No sense saying EXACTLY where this is. But I range from Frog Town in Minneapolis to Dinkytown (OK, "Marcy-Holmes") to the North Side.

Surprisingly, graffiti is not that much of an issue on the North Side. Graffiti seems to be more of a wannabe gangster activity rather than an actual gangster activity. When you see graffiti on the North Side, it's almost automatically gang-related.

I've managed to paint some stuff over and make quite a number of 311 reports. The deal is I call 311 on the stuff I don't consider it prudent to go after myself. (Or which may not be prudent to go after THAT MOMENT but like Scarlet O'Hara said, " another day.")

If property owners "frankly don't give a damn" about their own buildings, then somebody else needs to give a damn, because graffiti makes neighborhoods feel unsafe. Graffiti is illegal, and this overrides the "right" to exactly matching paint" or whatever. Citizens who have paint handy should eliminate the illegal graffiti by "whatever means necessary."

Yup, here is my little "voluntary graffiti abatement manifesto." (With all due homage and credit to Ed Kohler for inspiration)

First, like the securing of buildings already declared vacant and/or boarded, our city ordinances should explicitly allow and encourage this activity. The city clearly can't take care of it on its own. The only requirement should be to make some good faith effort to match the color of the paint. (For example, if the wall is white, any paint which can be described as "white" is acceptable, as long as it is made for EXTERIORS)

Second, it is best to say what you are doing as openly as you dare, rather than skulking in the dark like a filthy criminal. This encourages others to follow your example and also become volunteer graffiti abaters. Thanks to Ed Kohler, I'm going to start being more open about this activity, even if I can't hope to compete with Ed in terms of scale. I hope many others are inspired by Ed's example.

Third, I have friends who are taggers or former taggers. I tell them to grow up.

Fourth, in addition to the used paint store Ed linked from his blog, I've found great deals on paint at the "Re Store" on Broadway which sells recovered building supplies.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crap Piled High On The Grassy Median At 2929 6th Street North

Photos by John Hoff

This is on the grassy median near 2929 6th Street, the house which a reporter from Minn Post wrote about in his great story on my neighborhood, with quite a description of the ankle-deep debri inside the house.

Something seems to be happening at this property, though I'm not sure what. Here are some pictures of the pile of belongings tossed curbside. (I'd probably rummage for a few good items of salvage if I weren't worried about a confrontation over being a neighborhood do-gooder)

I can't tell if this is the beginning of an orderly clean-up by a responsible (or somewhat responsible) property owner/manager, or if crack-dealing thugs are just making themselves at home and were trying to clear out a patch of floor.

Evil Pink Pony Does Hard Time

This is what comes of luring minors into selling so-called "magic white rocks" at The Apartment Complex of Anarchy.

However, here we have an instance of "let the punishment fit the crime" and (exactly as I've suggested for some other civic villains in another blog post) Evil Pink Pony is sentenced to serve in his own North Side neighborhood under "house arrest."

Pony is supposed to "help the neighborhood," but there's not really much he can do since he's just a small, evil pink toy. We're still trying to come up with some jobs for him.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Cat Got Left Behind In The Evacuation Of The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy

This is not the cat in question but rather...

...a photo called "Cat Or Alien?" I needed an illustration and this one seemed to fit the bill.

The cat in question is gray and white, and growing skinnier by the hour. I saw it hanging around 3101 6th, and I suspected it may have been from the building. Then today I saw it sitting in front of the boarding up door, pushing its face up against the unyielding wood, wanting to get in...and I knew it was from the building.

I spread the word around about the cat, which is about all I can (or will) do. Unlike city slickers, I don't consider it any kind of "kindness" to cause dogs and cats to be put down rather than let them live in the wild. Like I've said before...there are many extra birds, since they're finding such good nesting spots on abandoned houses.

So let the cat live off barn swallows, if it must. Eventually it will be run down by a car. Not a much worse fate than living in terror in a cage at a so-called "Humane Society" until they finally get around to killing it with a needle and calling that "humane."

But hopefully spreading the word will cause some kind-hearted person to assist the cat before Evil Pink Pony eats it for breakfast. Like he does.

A Clockwork T.J. Waconia Orange photo, graffiti in Greece

Jeff Skrenes said something funny the other day about T.J. Waconia. We were discussing my "let the punishment fit the crime" proposal to make Thomas Balko and Jon Helgason serve their prison sentences in some of their own North Side properties.

Skrenes said maybe somebody could psychologically reprogram them, like in that movie (and book) "A Clockwork Orange."

"How do you mean, Jeff?" I asked.

Jeff said they could be made to become violently ill whenever certain phrases were used, like "flipping houses" (Jeff imitating somebody becoming violently ill) or "straw buyers" or, well, any terms like that. Just like in the movie "A Clockwork Orange." Only then would it be safe to let them live on the North Side, even under "house arrest."

Funny, clever Jeff. Naturally, it was time to deliver my Johnny Northside catch phrase.

"You understand that's going right on my blog?"

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"Truth In Housing" At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy

Photo from MLS, used under First Amendment "fair
comment and criticism."

Thanks to the oh-so-anonymous person who forwarded me information from the MLS listing about 3101 6th Street North, the recently shut down "Apartment Complex of Anarchy," including a link to the listing itself.

Just like I did with 416 30th, I find it is possible to mine the MLS data for bits of arcane humor by comparing reality to the real estate listing.

Or, shall we say, reality versus realty?

And yet it's surprising how TRUTHFUL these listings can be. Take this picture, for example. Yes, it focuses on the lovely tree in the foreground but if you look to the right you'll clearly see the piles of garbage in the back yard. Notably, the listing says the annual gross and net income from the property are both "1.00." What does THAT mean? The tenants aren't paying their rent except somebody sarcastically threw a dollar at Shirley? And Shirley picked it up?

In any case, one slightly-misused Apartment Complex of Anarchy can be yours--the foundation of a slumlord financial empire!--for a mere $339,000. (Seller takes no responsibility for Evil Pink Pony poltergeist activity on the property. Buy at your own risk, and that includes your soul)

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3119 4th Street Also Evacuated And Boarded

Photo by John Hoff

Shirley Guevara's other building in the area, also evacuated and boarded. A few cardboard boxes are left behind on the exterior. So ends the dream of a slumlord empire.

It's also hard proof tearing down official notices doesn't really make city officials go away.

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Mess Left Behind At the Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Seven)

Photo by John Hoff

All of this can be yours for $300k! (Yes, under this limited time offer, you also get the blue reclining chair and Evil Pink Pony)

Look at the style of the building! It's part International House of Pancakes, part Keebler Elf Cookie Tree, part Maginot Line.

I tell ya, they just don't build them like they used to in 1962!

For one thing, these days people are starting to avoid copper pipes. But not to worry! Many of those have already been ripped out, saving the buyer a lot of hassle.

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Mess Left Behind At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Six)

Photo by John Hoff

I was sitting here and thinking and tripping on the thought of a house which would have, like, a living room with GRASS inside...long grass with dandelions and all that...only it would be completely artificial and simulated INSIDE YOUR HOUSE just like carpet.

There is already such a thing as artificial grass, of course, but it's nothing like the real thing. What if you could simulate the look and feel of a real yard...right down to the texture and the smell of grass and dandelions...and have that yard inside your house, where you could park your chair and watch a big screen television? (Which would appear from the trunk of a tree, once again a highly realistic simulation of the trunk of a giant redwood!)

Oh, wait. Look what I see.

It's Evil Pink Pony hiding in front of the yellow garbage can! THERE! You see him?!

Evil Pink Pony is the one who has gotten me thinking these weird, trippy, unproductive thoughts about GRASS.

Never mind.

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Mess Left Behind At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Five)

Photo by John Hoff

I heard a rumor of a brick thrown through the window of somebody named "Johnnie" for rallying the tenants against the former owner, Shirley Guevara, who tried to collect rent after the period of redemption.

This image tends to support that story. Or maybe it was just random vandalism. Who knows? Lights are left on inside the building behind make-do curtains, (light blankets and colorful sheets) like somebody will come home any minute and make themselves supper before settling into the evening routine of crack sales to passing cars.

Did I mention all this can be yours for $300K?

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Mess Left Behind At the Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Four)

Photo by John Hoff

The crew from the city cleaned a lot of the mess in back, but not the stuff very close to the building. Note the clothes dryer exhaust against the steps. I'm guessing it's there because somebody carted off the washers and dryers.

All this can be yours for $300k!

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Mess Left Behind At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Three)

Photo by John Hoff

Evil Pink Pony goes around the building in a big circle. He goes around and around, using his Pink Pony magic. First he makes a star. Then he makes a big circle. He sings a happy horsey tune.

I'm a pink pony, short and stout/
Money comes in, crack goes out/
Don't tell anybody what we do/
Or we'll get beaten by the Man in Blue

Pink Pony looks around for little children who will come over to play and sing the magical money crack tune.

But shhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Don't tell any big people about your special friend Pink Pony, he tells the little children. Don't ever tell them how money will appear from the magical crack, money to buy anything you could ever want!

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Mess Left Behind At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Two)

Photo by John Hoff

I know what you're thinking.

The eyes on that horse look alive. That toy horse is scary.

I couldn't agree more. Too late the people inside realized Evil Pink Pony was the source of all their problems. When they fled in terror, Evil Pink Pony stayed behind.

Of course he did. He has always been here. Evil Pink Pony has been here longer than anybody. Yes, even longer than the old Polish woman.

One hundred years ago a stables stood on this very spot, and Evil Pink Pony was there. Before the white men, before the stables,Native Americans knew this spot was haunted by an evil pink spirit which might periodically take the form of a horse.

Now Evil Pink Pony watches the yard of the Apartment Complex of Anarchy, waiting...waiting.

"Please," says Evil Pink Pony. "Go ahead and grant a new rental license to Community Justice Partners. Put a bunch of felons in the building. Have the felons bring their little children to play! It's so lonely here. Pink Pony wants somebody to play with!"

Evil whinny.

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Mess Left Behind At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo One)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is part of the mess left behind at the Apartment Complex of Anarchy after the exodus. If this is what the outside looks like, imagine what it looks like INSIDE?

A mere $300k and ALL THIS CAN BE YOURS!

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Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea? (Who Watches The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy?)

Photo by John Hoff

Sponge Bob seems to appear everywhere I go. Here is a Sponge Bob left behind at the Apartment Complex of Anarchy.


Don't worry, his limbs always grow back.

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New Official Paper At The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy

Photo by John Hoff

New paper appeared sometime yesterday at the Apartment Complex of Anarchy. It is now a boarded building and word is condemnation isn't far behind. I ask you, who allows...

...copper to be ripped out of a building WHILE THEY ARE LIVING INSIDE? Does one hear the noise and think, "Oh, they must be worked on the pipes. Getting our water back on, I certainly hope."

I spoke to Peter Teachout, who was walking around with a hammer.

"Are you trying to be me?" I asked him.

Peter said he had procured a truck and help from his church to move two families evicted from the Apartment Complex of Anarchy--actually one extended family, three generations. It was the Thomas family, which included a pregnant woman and a 5-month old baby. Peter helped for hours, moving the Thomas family.

It was Thomas who was quoted in the Star Tribune saying, "We have no money. We get money once a month. It's near the end of the month and we're stuck with no money."

Community Justice Partners hooked the stuck-with-no-money Thomas family up with some (temporary?) housing. Peter said something about how he needed to be helpful. It had to do with his conscience and his relationship to God. He didn't want them sleeping on the sidewalk. I told him thanks for doing that.

We discussed the tactical difficulties of keeping tabs on the corner of 30th and 6th Street, where the drug dealing appears to have shifted. It's a very hard corner to watch. Unlike the Apartment Complex of Anarchy, which I could see quite well with binoculars from a church parking lot on Lyndale, the corner of 30th and 6th is a bit more challenging to keep under observation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Talking Back To The Star Tribune Article About The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy

Photo by John Hoff

Above, lest we forget, another picture of little children playing on the sidewalk for the first time in memory, safe under the gaze of numerous police officers as the "Apartment Complex of Anarchy" is evacuated across the street. I went there late last night...

And saw this information posted to the door, directing evicted persons to various shelters and resources. Out front there was a chair, a coffee table, two straggly somebody had just made the sidewalk their livingroom. Notably, there was a 5-gallon jug of bottled water. No doubt some residents had to obtain water because COPPER PIPES HAD BEEN RIPPED OUT OF THE UNITS.

The residents talk about the drug dealers being in the lobby like, oh gee, these scary dealers just appeared and sold drugs there. Constantly.

No, those drug dealers were residents. Those were friends and associates of the people living in the building.

I'm not going to post a link to the Star Tribune article for this reason: their links go dead after a certain period of time. There is no point in posting a link which is scheduled to go dead, unless you want a lot of annoying busywork on your blog. But, alluding to that article, I am going to post some...

Big Media Whoppers In Need Of Correction And Comment

First of all, the Star Tribune story was much better than Channel 5, but when ISN'T that the case? All the same, being close to the story I can't help but bring up these points.

First of all, the Star Tribune reporter says residents paid their rent through the end of May. According to who? According to some of the residents? Show me the receipts, I say.

Shirley Guevera attempted to collect rent, but the resident called "Johnnie" rallied the other residents and refused to pay Shirley. (I wonder if "Johnnie" is "Johnnie McLaughlin," quoted in the newspaper article?)

So nobody paid Shirley after somebody--probably Johnnie McLaughlin--rallied the residents in a united front against Shirley. (Kudos to Johnnie. Shirley had no right to be attempting to collect rent after the period of redemption had ended)

Reportedly, a company called "Castle Rock" then tried to collect rents, but met with no success. But that was NOT in May. That was earlier. Also, the mortgage company is far away and may as well be on the moon. So they didn't collect rent, either. Community Justice Partners (who wanted to throw these people out just as much as the City of Minneapolis, yet who gets the heat?) applied for a rental license, but either was denied or hasn't been issued one, yet.

So CJP is not qualified to collect rent, either.

So to whom was this rent to the end of May supposedly paid to? Huh?

All the evidence available shows people were living there RENT FREE after Shirley Guevara could no longer collect rent. If Shirley somehow managed to collect rent far in advance (rumor has it she picked up people living in shelters and threw them in that building) then she managed to take advantage of those folks, but the question is how much she could have managed to charge them, anyway? Not much, one suspects. Though apparently enough to have that one woman at 3119 4th vow to KILL HER.

Next, in regard to 1,100 police calls about the building since 1999, that's useful info, but it's pretty old. Better to focus on the last month or so. I seem to recall hearing there were 29 calls in one week about that property. I've already said plenty about the 7 recent drug arrests. Did I mention the 16-year-old hiding crack cocaine up his butt?

Oh, yes, I think I did. Repeatedly.

Recently I turned up a court case about a firearms arrest at that property, and I hope to get that on the blog soon. Some fascinating Fourth Amendment issues. Memorable quote from the court case: "I got my heater, y'all."

One of the guys in the article said people in the building called 911 on the drug dealers. This is bull, at least for the last few months. If the 911 record could be accessed it would show who was making those calls and it sure wasn't people inside the building.

You know that old horror movie where the cop tells the babysitter "the phone calls are coming from inside the same building!"

Well, in this case...they weren't.

The article also mentions how the building was "clearly posted" with notices. It doesn't mention how tenants RIPPED THE NOTICES DOWN, like ripping down notices will make the problem go away, rather like not opening an overdue bill will make THAT problem go away. (Pictures of the notices posted at 3119 were on my blog, though the ones at 3101 6th were ripped down before I managed to take a picture)

Next, the article mentioned the folks who wanted to take control of the building, which is Community Justice Partners. I knew about this entity a few days ago. I avoided saying anything on this blog because it was prudent to avoid publicly criticizing this entity. All I'm going to say is their hearts are in the right place, but they don't have the resources to run this property and keep drug dealers out. This appears to be a "shoestring social services organization" concerned with helping felons. Like we need more felons in 3101 6th Street North!

In regard to the building being in "deplorable" condition and eligible to be condemned: Tell it to the listing agent. They think this dump is worth $300k!

In regard to the resident who called herself "A.J." and left with the wooden urn full of ashes from her dead son. First of all, A.J. looks quite a bit like a woman I saw attempting to solicit johns on Lyndale Avenue near the old Wafana's store. Secondly, I wonder how it is her 21-year-old son was "killed" in 2005? These details would have been helpful.

In all the time I kept 3101 6th Street North under observation, I never once saw a little child enter or exit that building. I am of the opinion some of the children who were in the area during the eviction didn't live there at all, but dramatic claims were made of children being thrown out on the streets. Furthermore, even if children did live there, the building was full of drug dealing (even by the admission of the residents) lacked plumbing in some units, and had fallen into a state of anarchy. Children did not belong in that building. If worse came to worse, those children would be better off in foster care.

Oh, in regard to the drug dealing: see earlier blog posts. This involved crack cocaine, mostly, but there were arrests with weed, Ecstasy AND prescription drugs. This place was basically a one stop shop for all your addiction needs. Oh, and prostitution was coming out of the building, too, but that wasn't mentioned in the article.

Considerable commentary on this issue

There were (at last count) 177 comments posted to the Star Tribune article. Certain comments on the internet should be pulled up like useless weeds and automatically deleted, such as any rhetorical argument saying "Why are people so focused on THIS issue? Why don't they focus on THAT completely different issue, i.e., the war in Iraq?"

Somebody posted a great response: because some of us like to stick to the point and debate the issue at hand instead of going off on unproductive tangents, or words to that effect.

Oops, I just got led into a tangent any case, the comments were OVERWHELMINGLY IN FAVOR of the eviction, and brought up some really good points, though many shockingly mean things were said.

I have to wonder if there will be an article in tomorrow's paper about the eviction of 3119 4th Street North?

What Is In The Future?

Considering the mess left at these two properties by absent, neglectful mortgage companies, maybe it's time for the neighborhood council to think about another lawsuit.

All in all, not such a bad article, but it's all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking sympathy should be automatically extended to somebody who is thrown out on the street. From the point of view of the people who had to live next to the Apartment Complex of Anarchy, this is a wonderful day.

However, in the meantime we will have to watch out for copper thieves to break inside and get what's left of the copper, and theft of the meager personal possessions left inside. I hope the city will hurry up and condemn the place. I hope when I check 3119 4th in the near future, it is also empty and boarded.

Yesterday I saw a semi-trailer sitting there which said "Cedar Box Company" on the side. I thought how a "cedar box" truly spells the end. In this case...the end of drug dealing, lawlessness and disorder emanating from those two properties.

Or so we hope.

Compassion and Mercy

Peter told me he was trying to get help from his church for the people evicted. I told him, "Yeah, they're in a tough spot. How will they find another place to live with such a perfect combination of vehicular traffic, isolation and lack of property management supervision for their lucrative drug sales?"

I hope the word goes forth to all the dealers on the North Side: this is what happens when you deal drugs out of a residence. The building gets boarded, and everybody gets thrown out. EVERYBODY. Yeah, little babies, too. The mother with the urn full of ashes. And, the pink hobby horse. (The pink pony is not as innocent as he looks)


If the people in those buildings are angry, let them take it up with their friends and associates, the drug dealers. Or, in some cases, they can just be angry at THEMSELVES.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Developments At 420 31st In The Middle Of The 3101 6th Street Evacuation

Photos by John Hoff

While I sat and watched the evacuation of the Apartment Complex of Anarchy, workmen showed up at 420 31st, which used to be the scariest crack house in the area before getting boarded up...and then, later, OFFICIALLY boarded up.

At first, I thought these were workmen for a new buyer, probably the same rental property tycoon who owns several properties in the area. However, I found out they work for a mortgage company and go around cleaning yards, winterizing homes, and generally making a buck off the mortgage mess. New paper has also appeared on the door, apparently a "summons to shorten the redemption period."

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Jeff Brought A List Of Shelters--They Tore It Up In His Face

Photo by John Hoff

Breaking news about the Apartment Complex of Anarchy. HACC Housing Director Jeff Skrenes went over there AGAIN with a list of shelters and housing resources. One guy took the paper and tore it up in Jeff's face.

Above, another picture of little children playing across the street for the first time in memory as the scary criminal elements get THROWN THE HECK OUT of the Apartment Complex Of Anarchy.

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Evacuation Of The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Three)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is one of my early pictures of the evacuation, from the point in time when the residents were arguing their case, making their points, not quite ready to put mattresses, bags of clothing, and at least one hobby horse on the sidewalk, not just yet.

I couldn't help but notice a real estate sign had appeared in the last day or two. Hmmm. I wonder how much they want for an old apartment building which has become notorious for crack cocaine sales and reportedly has serious interior damage.

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The Evacuation of 3119 4th Street North--The OTHER Apartment Complex Of Anarchy

Photo by John Hoff

This is the one and only image I managed to capture (so far) of the secondary evacuation at 3119 4th Street North, Shirley Guevara's OTHER foreclosed property.

A moment later, as described in my other post, an angry black woman ran at Shirley Guevara in the red truck, (here parked behind the police car) hit the truck behind the driver's side window (though she was trying to hit the window, it appeared) and vowed to all present (including a police officer) SHE WOULD KILL SHIRLEY GUEVARA.

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Evacuation Of The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo Two)

Photo by John Hoff

Lots of talking to the police and the city inspector, but the authorities were not backing down. This is what the neighborhood WANTED. This was not heartless and accidental bureaucracy, but the result of a long struggle for law and order at properties which had become a center of crime and anarchy.

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Evacuation Of The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (Photo One)

Photo By John Hoff

This is what happens when you deal crack cocaine out of an apartment complex in foreclosure.

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Booting The Drug Dealers: For The First Time In Memory, Little Children Play On The Sidewalk Across From The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy

Photo by John Hoff (with deep gratitude to the anonymous businessman who gave me a digital camera)

The evacuation of 3101 ("The Apartment Complex of Anarchy") began exactly when my anonymous source, Commander Tough Glove, said it would. It began almost exactly at noon...

The Tide Turns

First there was one squad car and a city inspector, Faroukh, who was at the meeting of the neighborhood where everybody rallied over the outrageous break-in at a longtime resident's house, a resident who considered leaving the neighborhood because of it. So I knew him when I saw him in front of 3101 6th Street, that's good ol' Faroukh.

There was a bald, calm police officer...he seemed to be giving the people inside enough time to vent their emotions, to say their peace, but he was standing firm. The place was being evacuated. There had been warnings. There had been time. There had, in fact, been many days of a grace period. Now it was time to leave.

One young black man had a paper in his hand, and he spoke, he gestured repeatedly to the paperwork. A lease of some kind, I assume. He spoke, he argued, he articulated, he made his points but there was no stopping what was going to happen. The Apartment Complex of Anarchy had been an open air drug market for months. In the last week, there were seven arrests in three incidents, including (according to my source, Commander Tough Glove) a sixteen-year-old hiding a stash of crack cocaine inside his butt. There was no rental license. There was, in fact, nobody clearly in charge. The people inside were incapable of so much as cleaning up the mess in the back yard, let alone preventing rampant crack cocaine sales from inside the front door.

At some point, the dam of denial and resistance broke. I saw an older black man take the young black man aside, speak to him urgently, shake his head. There was no stopping what would happen. No sense saying anything stupid to a cop. Time to accept reality. Time to evacuate.

Out came the possessions, many in dehumanizing and depressing black garbage bags. Mattresses. Bedding. Even a hobby horse. Vehicles began appearing to help people evacuate, a mish-mash of friends pressed into duty on short notice, like the English fishing fleet during the retreat at Dunkirk. One of those trucks you can rent at Menard's pulled up, and men from the truck began casually taking measurements of the windows and slapping on boards.

These were not city boards or a city truck. Who was it, I wondered? The mortgage company? Somebody from the company hoping to take over and manage the building? Several black people who were well-dressed and had some sort of identification tags hanging on their neck showed up, and were in the middle of everything, but didn't seem to be lending assistance to the persons being evacuated, except perhaps a polite word, now and then. Was it the new management company? More police arrived, three squad cars in all.

Little Children Come Out To Play

With so many police present, I felt comfortable sitting at a distance, taking pictures. At some point, when the maximum number of police and city officials were present, the Hmong family who lives across the street came out, and children played on the sidewalk under careful adult supervision. I never even knew they had children. I'd never seen them dare to play outside before. A little baby who couldn't quite walk was assisted by its mother, or perhaps an older sister.

Sidewalk. This is what sidewalk feels like, little one.

A few times individuals gestured toward me. Well, let them. Let them see the neighborhood isn't afraid, and this wasn't the city in some inhumane and accidental act of bureaucracy, evacuating an entire building for drug dealing. This was the NEIGHBORHOOD. The neighborhood WANTED this to happen, worked for a long time so it would happen.

No Victims In That Apartment Complex

Nobody in that building was innocent, except perhaps some children. The drug dealing in the front stair landing was so frequent, so blatant, nobody who lived in the building could have NOT KNOWN it was taking place. Even some of the children were not innocent, like the sixteen-year-old hiding crack in his butt.

Peter Teachout called his church and asked if there could be help and compassion for these individuals. I sat and watched, hoping they had all the time they needed to get possessions out, making sure they weren't roughed up...but the police were, if anything, indulgent and tolerant, almost playing the role of social workers.

The Neighborhood Watches With Relief And Delight

At some point I got hungry, and wandered into Bangkok Market to see if I could get a nice pig testes stir fry, but I had to settle for some meaty rolls and sticky rice, delicately flavored with banana leaf wrapping. Really an amazing dish! Two Buddhist monks were inside the store, in saffron robes. If the monks had been buying food, I would have said, "Let me get this for him," but they seemed to be discussing some other matter with the owner.

I told the owner of Bangkok Market what was up at the apartment complex. Standing behind his counter, selling sweet sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, he wasn't aware of what was going on just around the corner. Later I saw him walk around the corner and look. His face was impassive, but I saw his head go back a little, in suppressed amazement. I saw the Polish woman go by. I told her what was up but urged her not to walk up to my vehicle. She was so excited by the evacuation that she called Jeff Skrenes.

"It is war!" she said. "They are finally throwing them out. They are finally making them leave."

The Devil Also Watches

"The Devil" came by in a big dark green Escalade, and talked to me. (See my previous blog entry about "A Steak Dinner With The Devil," a businessman who owns--let it be charitably called--low income rental properties)

The Devil said the evictions at 3101 6th Street didn't matter. The neighborhood would never change. As he stood talking to me, a young black street walker passed by, and asked if it was true she couldn't stay at his house.

"I'm kicking everybody out of that house," he said.

"But me, too?" she pleaded.

"Talk to Leon," he snapped, and jerked his head toward me as though to say, "Let's not have this conversation in front of Johnny Northside." She walked away, her face downcast. I asked The Devil if he was really kicking everybody out of the house. He said he was, yes, so he could sell it.

Me and The Devil talked about blackjack. We have this in common. It is our favorite card game. But I don't play for money. The Devil, on the other hand, claims he is up about $30,000 from playing blackjack. He takes his winnings and rolls them into property investments, always maintaining a stake for playing but not pouring in any more money. He claims to be that good.

I asked if I could take his picture, but he declined. I told him if I snapped his picture, nothing would appear in the frame but his vehicle because he was, after all, The Devil. He laughed and said, "I'm not the devil, you're the devil." He said white people were the ones who first started burning petroleum, because of their endless greed, and white people have polluted the world.

"Before white people came along we would lay on couches and eat grapes," he said. "We would eat grapes and (expletive) (expletives) all day long."

"It sounds nice," I conceded.

As he left, The Devil asserted nothing would change in the neighborhood. And I would get myself killed for making the effort to try.

Broke And Out On The Street

The people who had the most possessions seemed to have the least transportation. The front lawn looked like a rummage sale when the police and the city inspector finally left. Now I knew people wouldn't be on their best behavior, and it was time to leave, too.

I went by 3119 almost by accident, and I discovered the evacuation was just beginning. Five or six individuals stood on the front steps, with a pile of orderly boxes. It seemed more low-key, more orderly, more subdued than 3101. This has always been the case. But as I watched, two women who had been in front of 3101 came by, toting possessions.

They stopped dead in their tracks for a moment when they saw the police, the boxes on the front steps, and realized what was happening at 3101 was ALSO happening at 3119, the other apartment complex owned by Shirley Guevara. The plan to flee from 3101 6th to 3119 4th was suddenly unworkable. Where would they go? What would they do?

One woman on the steps cried, "I am going to snap out of this. I am going to SNAP OUT." But there was no waking up from reality. As Ayn Rand said, "Reality is real."

As I watched, a red truck pulled up near 3119, and a black woman ran from the front steps toward the truck. The truck sped away, with a Latino woman at the wheel and somebody in the passenger seat. The black woman violently struck the truck just behind the driver's window, and shouted, "Shirley!" as the truck sped down the street.

That was Shirley Guevera, the black woman shouted to the assembled crowd. That was the woman who took her rent money, who said there would be a WHOLE YEAR before leaving the building was necessary. Furthermore, the woman shouted, "That was Jack Sissy Pants in the truck with her." I'm not sure who that was, unless it was the same older gay man from The Towers who once told me he was Shirley's former caretaker.

In the presence of a police officer, the woman shouted she would kill Shirley Guevera. She didn't care who heard. She would KILL THAT WOMAN.

The police officer shook his head. He walked to his squad car and got inside, driving in the direction of the truck, leaving the people on the porch with their boxes. Jeff Skrenes called my cell phone at that moment. He wanted an update. As I drove by 3101 6th Street, the older black man (the same one who had calmed down the young guy) howled his rage at the sight of my vehicle.

"That yell is for me, Jeff," I said. "I'll come by and see you personally."

The Media Are All Over It And So Is My Blog

Word on the street is Channel 5 is at The Apartment Complex of Anarchy with a television crew. The Star Tribune is all over the story, too. Jeff Skrenes got in his vehicle and left to go over there and make sure somebody was able to speak for the neighborhood.

I got to a computer as quickly as I could so I could upload the most important picture and video of the 117 photo and video images I captured.

Little children play in the street under the gaze of three squad cars, and the adults quietly watch this wonderful, and long-awaited day when the drug dealers get booted out of the buildings left in a state of anarchy by Shirley Guevara and the absentee mortgage company.

I look forward to making sure trespass will not take place at those two properties. It is a big day on "the block," but the battle is far from over. One member of the neighborhood council said he could feel the "steely stares" and asked me to watch his house, watch out for his wife and children.

I told him, "I watched your wife and kids go in the house while I was there. I did not drive away until she was in the house."

"I'm not backing down, though," he said. "We can't back down."

I agreed. It is war. And we can't back down. Now we determine the destiny of our little piece of the neighborhood for generations to come. We must fight and we must win.

Clearing Out The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy At High Noon

Picture by John Hoff of a "shoe tree." Why? Because nobody is in charge of a shoe tree. Because it defies law and order. Because it is anarchy. Because it is the best picture I had available on such short notice, so I grabbed one, almost at random. Chaos.

The following info is from a highly-placed but anonymous source high in city government, and came in the form of an email...

Tomorrow at about 1200 noon the "Apartment Complex of Anarchy"
is being vacated
and secured by police and regulatory services. We
cannot board it yet (by law we
can only lock it up for now). As soon
as someone breaks in then we can board it.
In any event...there will
be no one living there and therefore no reason for anyone
to hang
out there. That will make it easier for us to take action if dealers are

lurking about.

Best Regards,

Commander Tough Glove
Just to be clear, that last part is my little name for him, since I'm pretty sure this is the same officer who told me the anecdote about the guy with the crack cocaine shoved up his butt, so I've decided to use this nickname for him. I would be incredibly pleased if more information came my way from this source. He can even pick a different moniker, if he likes.

Oh, I love the way he used my nickname for the 3101 6th Street North, though!

Oh, some further reports I can file at this late hour, before getting some sleep and finishing a term paper I have due to tomorrow (extended deadline, thank you Professor Nancy Eustis) about theoretical expansion of the membership base of a veteran's organization.

* I called the landlord for 416 31st Avenue North and let her know about the crack cocaine arrest there of a person--Charelle Davis, age 18--who listed that place as her permanent address. And obviously, Davis knew the place pretty well, enough to know the rain eve outside the second story was a good place to hide dope, except this time a cop was watching from the rear of the property, too bad for her.

The landlord--I won't name her, quite yet--said she was "shocked." She asked me how to spell the name of the woman who was arrested. I started to give her some details when she suddenly said she had to call me back and, of course, didn't.

Well, that's OK. I passed around her number to a few folks, though I wasn't the first one to have the number. I admit, it was a blog poster who mentioned contacting the landlords which got me motivated to get right on this.

Maybe later I can contact a few more landlords but, for now, this landlord has property on my northern perimeter--a problem property at that, for the past few years--so it was important to contact that landlord before all the other landlords...if I can find any of them. If those addresses the arrestees list are even VALID. Mister Lake might list an address somewhere, but everybody knows he lives in abandoned buildings, so I'm sure it won't do me much good to contact somebody who--at best--might be a former landlord.

* There were cops all over the block last night, watching a gang house party taking place on the southern perimeter. Peter said it was great to see so many cops. I was driving back to Peter's place to pick up a CAN OF MONEY which I forgot at his place--and Peter put it aside for me, literally every penny--and when I rounded the corner, I tried to drive quickly to avoid a couple pedestrians, so they wouldn't kick my car, spit at it, etcetera.

And then I saw flashing lights in my back window. BUSTED!

Fortunately, the officers accepted what I said about why I had coasted through the stop sign, because I was worried about the pedestrians, and after checking my license they let me go and THANKED ME for making 911 calls on the block.

Peter Teachout was watching from his porch, laughing. He said we made so many calls and got all those cops busting drug deals on the block and now look what happens. I got myself caught in the dragnet. Well, I had no complaints. Sit at that stop sign and pull over everybody who coasts through it. That's fine with me. They'll catch some interesting fish, that's for sure.

* Peter called me this afternoon about 430 30th Avenue, which Little Jane calls "The Mexican House" and Peter referred to as "The Spanish House." First of all, he wanted to know how I knew its nicknames. I told him I'd acquired the neighborhood knowledge from Little Jane, and I'd actually seen an image of the Latino family captured by Google earth.

Well, he said, was anybody in the house? Recently? Because there were about 15 young black kids taking over the lawn right now.

I told Peter NOBODY was supposed to be in that house and it had been vacant as of yesterday. Furthermore, didn't the Latino family still own it? Call the police, I told him.

Peter said there was already a police car sitting nearby, watching, but perhaps they were unaware the house wasn't supposed to be occupied.

CALL THEM, I told Peter. Tell them the house and yard isn't supposed to be occupied. Yes, I said, your hunch is correct. It was vacant as of YESTERDAY. I patrolled, I went by it, and it was vacant. So call the cops and pass on the information.

Peter said he would do so, but he needed to go off to church because he had his "ministry."

THIS IS YOUR MINISTRY RIGHT HERE, PETER, I told him. He laughed in the superior way of those who know earthly things do not matter--la dee da--but he said he'd call the police before he left for church. After looking up the property on the city property search and confirming it was still owned by some individuals with the last name "Morales," I called up the Fourth Precinct and passed on some information.

The house was supposed to be VACANT, I said. It was vacant YESTERDAY, which I confirmed because IT'S MY BLOCK and I patrol it daily. The house is owned by an Alejandro Morales, and is well known to be owned by Mister Morales, so there is no reason for 15 young black kids to be in the yard. They might be the same group of 15 black kids who busted into 415 30th across the street just a couple days ago, crapped in the toilet while the water was turned off, put gang graffiti on the back banister, and generally frolicked about.

The officer who answered the phone confirmed they had a squad at that location. Well, I said, tell your squad THAT GROUP IS TRESPASSING. The house is owned by Mister Morales and he has never invited 15 black youth to lounge in his yard and, perhaps, break down the front door as they did with 415 30th. Please pass that on to your squad car. THEY ARE TRESPASSING.

And the officer said he would pass it on. So I called Peter back and told him the deal. For such a minor act as this, Peter said, "You're awesome."

"Church of the Dead Bolt Lock,"I said. Peter insisted one way or another, he was going to find a way to get me to his church. I said while he was in church, criminals were "frolicking around inside the perimeter." Peter said, hey, it was his neighborhood, too. I conceded he had been there, and I was, after all, away right now myself doing some other thing.

I just see very little evidence that while I am away, and Peter is away, God Himself steps in and watches over the block. I mean, unless you count the fact the whole block does not blaze up in a spectacular conflagration as evidence of divine intervention, as far as I can tell, the block is on its own unless human beings are keeping watch. God is busy. God is watching over the southern metro suburbs and, for the record, I have no complaints about THAT.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Goodbye To Johnny A's Sports Bar

Photos by John Hoff

Mourn. Mourn. Mourn.

OK, not really...

I was going through a big stack of newspapers at the University, catching up and then recycling. I've been trying so hard to go "paperless," but I keep backsliding.

In a copy of the Star Tribune I learned of the death of the North Side bar called Johnny A's Sports Bar. The bar had (according to the council) "repeatedly violated state liquor purchase law, didn't pay a citation or its license fee on time, and had numerous, severe and continuing instances of criminal and nuisance activity including drug dealing."

Here is a really interesting part of the article:

"Council Member Don Samuels, who is black, took issue with those who suggest that the action was motivated by the bar's black patronage, saying that everyone must be held accountable for following the law, regardless of race."

True, but I must ONCE AGAIN question the validity of shutting down North Side businesses because of behavior by customers. Like, OK, shut down the Wafana's Store, where do the criminals go? Shut down Johnny A's sports bar, where do the criminals go? If the owner of Johnny A's did something criminal, then why is he not charged with something? It wasn't the owner doing the criminal behavior, and yet he is the one punished.

And maybe people who live next to Wafana's breathe a sigh of relief...and it appears to be some kind of improvement...but is it? If the criminals are not in jail, then we are just moving the crime from place to place by shutting down businesses. In fact, the criminals will need a new hang out. So where will they go? Which bar will have to be shut down next?

Also, Johnny A's was a very geographically isolated business. There weren't a lot of folks nearby on that part of Broadway to be bothered. If you had to pick a "good place" for dealers to be, Johnny A's kind of made sense as a "least bad" scenario.

Try to tell me crimes aren't happening in the parking lot of the mega-huge liquor store at the corner of Broadway and Lyndale Avenue North, but who talks about shutting THAT place down?

Goodbye, Johnny A's! I never had the chance to know your gloomy interior, your weapon frisks at the door, your drink specials. (I wonder what kind of fun and creative names one has for drink specials at a notorious den of drug dealing? It would have been fun to find out)

How I would have enjoyed sitting at Johnny A's, drinking a tomato juice, then calling 911 from my car about blatant drug dealing in the john. Now I'll never had the chance!

(Sniff, sniff. A tear)

Steak Dinner With The Devil (Final Goodbye To Old School Film)

I literally took a wrong turn and ended up at this cool old North Side church...

Oh, wait. Folks insist it is a NORTHEAST church, not North Side. My apologies. I'm still learning the lay of the land. In any case...

The green dome and flags whipping in the wind were so striking, I decided to use my last frame of film. In the upper right corner, note part of my hand waving goodbye to old school photography.

It was deliberate creativity on my part. OK, it was an accident.

While I stood there on the secular sidewalk just at the edge of church property, the devil came along driving a black sports car and called out to me. He was an articulate (though self-educated) black man with a black leather jacket, a diamond pinkie ring shaped like a horse shoe, with the fingernail on his pinkie left long and uncut. It turned out the devil is something of a "low income rental property landlord," who owns housing on my block.

Well, I already knew that, though I've never really blogged about it. No, I don't blog about everything, contrary to the impression one might get.

The devil and I agreed to have a nice steak dinner a few blocks away, at an upscale restaurant surrounded by coffee shops and little art galleries. What a delightful corner of North Minneapolis I'd happened upon by accident! The steak and fish house was called "erte," uncapitalized. (Click here for a link to their website)

My biggest complaint about the place is their trendy use of an uncapitalized title. Oh, also, who serves a steak and makes you buy the potato separately? Madness. Even the devil pointed out the evil in that. But all in all, an impressive place. It's so spacious you can get lost behind the door to the bathroom, and the building is way old, way cool.

Take a date there who likes red meat and/or old buildings.

We went Dutch, me and the devil, and talked at length about neighborhood issues such as prostitution, sales of crack cocaine, the need for sex offenders to have housing, and differing visions of the neighborhood's future. The devil wants his piece of the pie, his share of real estate dealings stemming from efforts to create the Eco-Village.

The devil made this known repeatedly. He wants his cut of the Eco-Village pie.

The devil assured me nothing will ever change on my block, and folks are crazy to try, and made it known (in subtle ways) he was still willing to do business with me in regard to my property, if my other dealings fell through.

The devil barely touched his steak. I finished it for him after he left.

It was, of course, well done.

A Pile Of Garbage Is Missing Its Gorilla Suit (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here's that pile of garbage which hasn't moved in a month, despite calls to 311.

Oh, wait, I can't say it hasn't moved. The gorilla suit I saw there before has disappeared, so the pile kind of moved.

I am keenly disappointed and worried everybody will think I've been having gorilla suit hallucinations.

Another little mystery in the debris. Who took the soggy gorilla suit, and why? Where does a soggy gorilla suit sit?

(Do not click "Read More")

Gangs 1, God 0, Photo Two (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is another view of the church announcement board, glass kicked out. The bricks haven't fared too well, either.

Why would the word "SERVICES" be left, but nothing else? A little mystery.

(Do not click "Read More")

Gangs 1, God 0, Photo One (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

I found this church announcement board a few blocks from my house, with the glass all kicked out. Nobody from the church has bothered to fix this mess. I can't tell if the church is still (what is the phrase?) "in business."

St. Ignatius Loyola said, "Work as though everything depends on you. Pray as though everything depends on God." I've got about half of that formula down, the "get to work" part. Peter Teachout asked me recently about going to his church. I told him I attend "the church of the dead bolt lock."

However, the guy who gave me a digital camera to take pictures of my neighborhood struggle did so because of his Christian beliefs. Because of him, I can say "Goodbye to old school film."

Despite my provocative post title, I guess I'm just saying...SOMEBODY ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PARTICULAR CHURCH NEEDS TO FIX THIS PARTICULAR MESS. It really leaves a bad impression of "who-gives-a-rip."

You wouldn't see PRESBYTERIANS leave a mess like this. No way.

(Do not click "Read More")

Mysterious Board Appears (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is the mysterious board somebody dropped off. It was involved in the "discretion is the better part of valor" tactical retreat from the "squatter pimp" who was pacing like a pit bull in front of 3201 4th Street North, the "crack house still open for business" despite being called in to 311 on or about April 25, almost a month ago.

Well, even if this generously-donated board hasn't yet been used for "volunteer boarding," it has already served well to demonstrate to a reporter what ugly problems my neighborhood faces due to incredibly slow city response to securing wide open crack houses.

It's not like I will run out of boards. They are on the ground, where squatters tear them off buildings.

(Do not click "Read More")

My Front Lawn (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Every chance I get, I tell people how dandelions (French for "the lion's tooth," because of the shape of the leaf) were considered a vegetable by the French. They were brought to North America for that reason, and escaped from gardens to take over the continent.

Thus, every time you have to pull a dandelion, blame the French. (Of course, if you're like me and enjoy eating dandelion salad, you can also THANK the French)

I took this picture of my lawn before I mowed it, to record the lovely little violets springing up next to the dandelions. It is a good feeling to mow a lawn you own, free and clear. I don't know how many times I will have the pleasure of mowing this lawn before selling the house to "the good guys" creating the Eco-Village, and then hopefully buying another house nearby.

With a lawn. With dandelions. Gotta have dandelions for salad.

(Do not click "Read More")

Fare Thee Well, Scary Little Gang Garage (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is Chris the reporter standing where the "scary little gang garage" used to be. A day or so later, I scattered perennial flower seeds at this spot while hanging out with Jacob and Gabe, still working on their film project.

Now with the garage gone, a secret gnome entrance is more clearly visible.

(Do not click "Read More")

Lawn Mower Man (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

This is David Pitcock, an honest scrap metal hound with a sideline in fixing and selling "curb sided" lawn mowers. As I told my little son...

"These are our kind of people. Think of them like your uncle who lives out in the country, only they live here in the city."

Pitcock sold me a great lawn mower for $50, which I have "permanently loaned" to Peter Teachout, Vice President of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association, since his mower wasn't working and (as he put it) he got frustrated with it and left it out all winter.

Put it out on the curb for David Pitcock to pick up, I say, and complete the mechanical "circle of life."

Pitcock is a self-described "hill billy." He lives in a house owned by a relative just a few blocks away, and I met him when I was driving around looking for dishonest scrap metal hounds. He gave me a business card and went into a funny monologue about all the copper he was stealing. Truthfully, the guy is so fearfully law-abiding he won't even pick up scrap metal in an abandoned yard without procuring permission, even if he might (quite arguably) be doing somebody a favor.

Actually, based on my conversation with him, he won't even pick rhubarb out of an abandoned yard. He lives in perpetual loathing of his neighbor, who he refers to as "Mama," who is supposedly calling in complaints about him all the time based on (for example) too many vehicles in the yard.

(Mama's complaints can't be discounted. I am not taking sides, here)

Pitcock claims "Mama" and her incessant gripes are the reason he is leaving the neighborhood, but somebody else at the residence told me (rather casually) the house is being lost to foreclosure, and THAT is the reason they are leaving. Things were pretty rough inside the house. When I came by to talk to David about purchasing the lawn mower, one of the guys downstairs yelled for David to wake up and come down.

When there was no immediate response, he picked up an axe and pounded on the ceiling. Pitcock came down and sold me the mower for a fistful of dollars.

It works great! And what a price!

Unsecure On The Southern Perimeter, Or Is It? (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is 415 30th Avenue North, with Chris in front of it. Did I say he wrote for an online magazine? It may be there is a print version of the magazine, too. I'll have to look into that or ask.

In any case, I called the listing agent even while I was doing this blog entry--actually taking the phone number off the picture--and the listing agent tells me the place has now been secured. I'll pass that on to Jeff. When I go by myself and confirm it really has been secured, I'll call 311 because (possibly) somebody dropped a dime on 311.

It wasn't me, though. No, really.

I say boarding fees are unreasonable and what's 2 or 3 days when it takes 311 a month to get things boarded? In any case...reportedly secured, thanks to quickly informing the listing agent. I called in the gang graffiti on the back stairwell (Ref. No. 177706) but it literally took longer to make the report than it would have taken to just paint over it myself without bothering to ask permission.

Citizens don't need this cumbersome "graffiti abatement" procedure that takes weeks, months, never. We need a broad mandate to paint out graffiti ourselves. Or, shall I say, we need to take back our mandate from the city government and get back to painting out graffiti ourselves, since the city government clearly isn't up to the job. It really shouldn't take a month to take care of a little bit of Sharpie marker on a wood banister and some siding.

Graffiti is illegal. Therefore anybody should be able to come along and paint over it, as long as they make some reasonable effort to match the color of the original surface.

In the meantime, I called it in to 311. By and by, I'll get around to writing up the Johnny Northside Graffiti Abatement Manifesto.

With pictures.

(Do not click "Read More")

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bringer Of Stern Official Paper (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is "Curt" of Claude Worrell/REO Results Group, who slapped some official paper on the door where Pookie used to live on my "southern perimeter." I gave him what little information I had about activity at the house, though I'd seen enough to know somebody was definitely occupying it off and on.

Curt was very cool to let me take his picture. A red placard will be coming, bearing tidings of official eviction. At some point in the near future, I will be able to call 911 when I see somebody at the property. Looking forward to that! I'm keeping Curt's card in my gigantic address book, so if something happens at the house I can call him specifically.

(Do not click "Read More")

Progress At Water World (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is Chris, the reporter from an online magazine, in front of "Water World," which is on my block but has never had issues before, so I wasn't really blogging about it.

Workmen are inside and progress appears to be taking place, but I'm worried who will end up occupying it. How do so many "Section 8" renters get involved in blatant drug dealing and yet somehow manage to hang on to their "Section 8?" It is a mystery.

All the same, motivated workmen draining 3 feet of water from the basement is superior to what was there before, so I'll just hope for the best. (Hmmm, I wonder what the final figure was on the water bill?)

(Do not click "Read More")

List Of Recent Drug Arrests At 3101 6th Street North (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here is Chris, the reporter (and associate editor) from a local online magazine, in the back yard of the Apartment Complex of Anarchy. A few hours later, the Sanitation Special Forces dropped by to take care of this mess because, after all this time, neither the tenants nor the new management company could somehow manage the relatively minor clean-up.

Litter is the least of our worries when it comes to this evil hole...

Here is the email recently sent by Inspector Martin of the Minneapolis Police Department in regard to recent arrests at this apartment and 416 31st Avenue North, the "problem tenants" who go out of their way to make life difficult for the sweet old Polish lady who grows all those wonderful flowers.

I give you the words of Inspector Martin, with some addendum from the Fourth Precinct Highlights.

Here are some recent enforcement activities in Eco-Village that may warrant some follow-up.

08-143860, 5/18/08, 1800 hours, 3101 6th Street North, 4 people arrested after a narcotics call to 3101 6th Street North. Two of them had narcotics. (The Fourth Precinct highlights listed the narcotics as crack cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana)

* Terrell Vonshay Roberson, 6/26/86, 3318 Colfax Avenue North, possession of crack cocaine, loitering, trespass. (76 CAPRS)

* Chasary Goenver Walker, 7/22/78, 2954 Oliver Avenue North, possession of prescription narcotics and marijuana, loitering, trespass. (101 CAPRS)

* Gary White, 7/22/76, 6349 Halifax Drive, Brooklyn Center, loitering with intent to buy/sell narcotics, trespass. (55 CAPRS)

* Leola Denise Jackson 7/4/80, 3600 Penn Avenue North #104, Loitering with intent to buy/sell narcotics, trespass. (21 CAPRS)

I have asked the City Attorney's Office to seek geographic trespasses on these individuals.

08-144028, 5/18/08, 2142 hours, 3101 6th Street North--2 males arrested for loitering with the intent to buy/sell narcotics.

* Khameron NMN Lake, 6/30/75, 1410 Queen Avenue North, loitering with intent to buy/sell narcotics (chronic problem in the area) (Addendum: 45 CAPRS on Lake)

* Nathaniel Anthony Jones, 6/28/88, 767 4th Street E., St. Paul, loitering with intent to buy/sell narcotics. (Addendum: 28 CAPRS on Jones)

I have asked the City Attorney's Office to seek geographic trespasses on these individuals.

08-144601, 5/19/08, 1312 hours, 416 31st Avenue North, 1 female resident arrested after trying to hide crack cocaine from officers. Officers were pursuing a suspect who had dropped crack cocaine in 3101 6th Street North and learned he went into 416 31st Avenue North.

* Cherelle Lashey Davis, 3/18/90, 416 31st Avenue North, possession of crack cocaine. (2 CAPRS)

On the Fourth Precinct Highlights, the incident was described like so:

Officers have a male flee from them after they observe him drop suspected crack cocaine and check 416 31st after an anonymous caller said he ran into the address. Officer posted at the rear of the address observes a female lean out an upstairs window and hide suspected crack cocaine in a rain gutter. Original male could not be positively ID'd.

3101 6th Street has become increasingly more problematic. It is open to trespass and drug dealing and the drug dealing there has really heated up over the last week. A great citizen has been calling and giving us excellent probable cause to make stops and arrests.

Progress At The Apartment Complex of Anarchy (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff
It wasn't the new "management" company which got the hideous back yard of 3101 6th Street North cleaned up...

After applying for a rental license literally at the last minute, a day or two later the piles of garbage were still in the back yard despite the official designation of "under new management." Some "management!" They can't even manage to pick up litter which, as previous pictures show, is something even small children can manage quite well.

Thus the new management company--whoever they may be, and I'm scared to find out--apparently had neither the resources nor the power of persuasion with tenants to get the mess cleaned up on the exterior of that property. (And, though it looked terrible, it's not like it was an impossibly huge mess, nothing a few hours of honest work wouldn't have solved)

As it turned out, the "Sanitation Special Forces" showed up and did the dirty job instead of the people actually RESPONSIBLE for 3101 6th Street North.

This was yesterday. It happened while I was with Chris, the reporter from the online magazine. So that was kind of cool, because Chris was there to witness some progress actually taking place.

In any case....

We who are trying to make Hawthorne a better neighborhood, particularly in the area of the Eco-Village, certainly don't need more of these dubious fly-by-night slumlord management companies who have already let 3101 6th Street North and 3119 4th Street North turn into dens of drug dealing. Reportedly, 3101 is already ripped up inside. What is left to manage? I say manage a quick demolition.

Sigh. I love the way the camera flash lit up those reflective strips on the truck. Will my new digital film do the same thing?

Hawthorne People Don't Give Up (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

At the beginning of the Hawthorne Clean Sweep, nobody came along with a key to let us in the community building at Farview Park. For a while, an alternative strategy was considered of using the vehicles as tables for our snacks, beverages, and clean up supplies. Somebody said, "Hawthorne people don't give up."

Fortunately, somebody came along with a key and such alternative arrangements were not necessary. But it was nice to hear "Hawthorne people don't give up."

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Let's Have That Trophy Tire Mounted! (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Lisa Mitchell and her two children pose with our biggest catch of the day during the Hawthorne Clean Sweep, a ripped-apart tire still attached to the rim.

I also brought along some packets of perennial flower seeds, and the two kids planted them where we found suitable dirt, which was a nice little break from picking up garbage.

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Death To Litter (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Sierra (Sisi) Mitchell poses with an ace of spades in her hat, found on the ground during the Hawthorne "Clean Sweep." Litter doesn't stand a chance when the Mitchell family comes sweeping in to the tune of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," like that scene in "Apocalypse Now."

We found one deck of cards which had been scattered for blocks. I found the King of Hearts and said, "Hey, Lisa,'s your husband's card."

We only found two aces, however. I was counting 'em. We found no jokers. The jokers are still out there, somewhere, in the vicinity of Farview Park.

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Hawthorne Clean Sweep (Goodbye To Old School Film)

Photo by John Hoff

Here are the two children of Anderson and Lisa Mitchell during the "Hawthorne Clean Sweep" posing with bags of litter which, yes, they worked hard to fill up themselves.

This is my last roll of "old school" film before transitioning to digital. The guy at the photo shop asked me "what's new?" So I showed him my new digital camera and told him the deal. I asked him, "How does your shop survive the relentless onslaught of digital photography?"

He said, "Portraits. That's the only way we survive."

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