Friday, June 18, 2010

Alex Hoff Helps To Fix A "Rat Hole" In Our Northside Neighborhood (Summer Visitation 2010)

It's that time of the year again--the time when the whole POINT of buying a house in North Minneapolis comes to the forefront of the blog. This blog is dedicated to my son, Alex--who just turned 13--and one again Alex has joined me for his extended summer visitation. Alex will be constantly with me for a while, and so Alex can be expected to turn up in the middle of various stories.

This photo, above, was taken during one of the first nights Alex was with me. There was a problem with a certain property in the neighborhood...

A crude fence separates the property from an alley, the fence being constructed of--it would appear--scrap lumber, some of it from shipping crates. For a fence made of scrap lumber, it's not such a bad fence, really, and the problem was not the fence itself but the fact large holes had been knocked in the fence by kicking out the boards. These holes allowed no-accounts to take shortcuts and--we strongly suspect--keep their drug traffic more in the alley and less out in the open where it could be observed.

Merely blocking the hole in the fence with loose boards didn't work. The boards were pulled away and tossed aside within MINUTES, though we didn't see who did it. So a more serious "vigilante carpentry effort" was required, just like in the good old days when the Hawthorne EcoVillage needed a civilizing influence. In the dark and dead of night, the fence was repaired by myself, my son Alex, and a prominent member of the neighborhood...whose identity must remain shrouded in mystery.

My son Alex thought it was a hoot, so much so that Alex (who has a yellow sweatshirt similar to the other person in the photo) kept laughingly pulling up his own sweatshirt, even days after, in imitation. And I kept laughingly telling him, "Pull down the hood of your sweatshirt. You look like an emo when you do that."

But it was too late. The psychological damage was done.


Anonymous said...


Most of the time I think you are slightly off, but I do agree with what you did here entirely. The neighborhood was in disrepair and you fixed it up by yourself without being asked.

You didn't call 311 about it either like an overaggressive hall monitor.

It wasn't a dumb neighborhood improvement project either (see returning phone 25 phonebooks way out to the suburbs to make a point to a $7 clerical worker).

You actually made the neighborhood more aesthetically pleasing and improved the functionality of a neighborhood improvement.

Good show.

If you had to choose, doesn't that feel better than calling 311 on somebody?

Anonymous said...

Good Job John!

Hans said...

This post inspired me to fix the 'rat hole' at the end of the dead end alley near my house. I don't mind the foot traffic so much, but the litter that comes with it is pretty annoying.

I hope it works... almost used up a whole box of screws (at least the wood was free though... recycled semi-rotten fence that once faced a particular 3016 residence).

Johnny Northside! said...

To Anonymous At 8:55

No, I will continue to call 311 like an aggressive hall monitor, except where "owner occupieds" are concerned. There, I hold back.