November 2007 Archives

I know it's still November — and Richard Roeper has his whole boycott Christmas until December rule, which I generally agree with — but if you're one of those people who's gotta check out Christmas lights, here's an interactive map of Chicagoland Christmas light displays. There's 118 and counting.

You can submit pictures or request that your house to be included in the map.

You don't have to go to Libertyville to see this display. It's on You Tube.

Ho, ho, ho.

Co-op Markets members are set to vote on whether to file bankruptcy and keep the grocery store open, or close for good and let a chain grocery store take its place.

If you had a say, how would you vote? And why?

I became involved with the renovation to “The Women’s Building”, a bungalow located at Byron and Hamlin in Independence Park at the request of 39th Ward Alderman Marge Laurino. For years she has thought about heading up a committee to get this bungalow renovated and needed some of the community residents to take it on as a project. I was new to the neighborhood, both of my parents grew up in bungalows and this particular bungalow just oozes with charm and possibilities. So I agreed.

Hood quiz - Nov. 23

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Who was the Irving Park neighborhood named after?

Be first to post the correct answer and win a Sun-Times T-shirt.

Crime Down in Chicago? How Do You Know???
Posted by Rogers Park Bench on Nov. 19

Mayor Daley and Joe Moore occasionally do agree, and more often than not that agreement comes in the form of a shared lie. For example, "crime is down" in Chicago.

Really? How do you know, Mr. Mayor? How do you know, Mr. Moore? The FBI doesn't even know. The Chicago Tribune ran an Associated Press story today about the 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America," published by CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc.

Maybe mail service in Chicago ain' t ready for reform.

It's been more than a year since mail delivery service here reached the seventh circle of hell — when our mail from across town would show up weeks late, bills and sale fliers arrived after after our payments were due and sales were over — and our overnight delivery remains the worst in the country.

Worse than New York City.

Business reporter Sandra Guy broke the news a week ago that Co-op Markets executives are considering closing the independent, customer-owned grocery store at 54th and Lake Park Drive. after 75 years. (Coming Friday in Neighborhoods -- a profile of the Co-op's most loyal employee.)

On Sunday, about 400 people reportedly turned out for the membership meeting to hear the choices the financially struggling Co-op will face.
The membership will to pick it's poison: filing bankruptcy and undergoing a financial restructuring. Or cutting a deal to close the place so a new grocer takes over.

Ballots will be sent out soon. If you had a say, how would you vote?

If what our rock writer — Pop Music Critic — Jim DeRogatis is right, and concert promoters, co-founder Perry Farrell included, really are shopping Lollapalooza to other cities, we should dump the rock festival from Grant Park.

The Newberry Library announced this week a new interactive on-line map for genealogists.

You can enter any address and the interactive map will give you a list of places where you might be able to find information about your great great great-grandpa, or the person who lived in your house in the 1800s.

It's pretty cool.

Check it out at

Carol Kopka put up with the junk house next door for 16 years before it finally got torn down last month.

And it turns out folks all over the city were living next to junk houses controlled by the same man — 80-year-old John Waters, who was charged with felony forgery last week for faking a property document.

Carol and her neighbors had no idea their complaints would turn up that news.

Share your stories about trouble in your hood here. What are you up against? And how does it affect the quality of your life.

Hoods quiz - Nov. 16

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What year did the YMCA open its first dormitory building in Chicago?

Be first to post the correct answer to win a Sun-Times T-shirt.

Last week, I stumped you. No one named the correct neighborhood you would be in while on a stroll down Memory Lane in Chicago.

The answer was O'Hare.

This video is from Tom Allen's campaign sight, he's running for Cook County State's Attorney, but it gives you a good look at how happy the neighbors are.

Don't know exactly what Christmas gift to get that Lake View yuppie who has everything?

How 'bout a neighborhood gift card? What's a neighborhood gift card, you ask?

Well, keep reading — especially if you want to learn how to get a free $50 gift card for yourself.

Today, Business Week answered my question about why Mayor Daley protects big business like Old Navy more than folks in Old Town, among other places.

It's because ...

Tom Li, 35, of Oak Park volunteers as a mentor and tutor for kids in neighborhoods all over the city twice a week. "I like working with kids. They're appreciative of the time I spend with them," Li says. "They're the future, and it's best for society to do right by them."

Double Stitch

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Growing up, Erika and Monika Simmons thought Diana Ross secretly might be their momma, which explains a lot.

"Ooh, we're fabulous," one of them says before I figure out how to tell them apart. (Monika is the pregnant one.)

On the way home, I’ve got the Buick really moving — 75 mph easy — when a black blur with shiny rims nearly clips my front bumper, sweeps across three lanes and zooms into the distance.
It makes me smile. The Idiot 500 — my beloved Dan Ryan — is back.
Only it’s wider, smoother and without a single pothole. Twelve minutes. That’s how long it takes to get from downtown to 95th when you’re keeping up with traffic. As I hit the Bishop Ford, it dawns on me that this means farewell to Stony Island — my alternate route downtown during nearly two years of construction.

If you took a stroll down Memory Lane in CHicago, which neighborhood would you be in

The first to post the correct answer wins a Sun-Times T-shirt.

Some aldermen want to set a "pubic safety assessment" tax on thriving downtown businesses that make loads of money — which I assume would take some of the tax burden neighborhood folks worried about skyrocketing property tax bills, Fran Spielman reports from City Hall.

And what does Mayor Daley say about it?

"I think that's disaster."


I don't know how many people watch CAN-TV, Chicago's cable access channel.
On any given night, I figure there's at least 50 of you out there. Give or take.

Once in a while, I'll check it out — mostly because I like watching kooks on TV, specifically, — 3 Guys Pickin' (Check it out on Channel19, Monday's 10:30 p.m.)

But what CAN-TV is best for is getting a good look at your alderman, especially if you only see your ward boss around election time. For 30 minutes a pop, they tackle important issues in the hood.

That is if you consider the "Dos and Don'ts" of Chicago's trial recycling program super important or even necessary.

It's enough to make you ask yourself, "People really voted for these guys?"

The owner of Pet Luv Pet Center in Scottsdale was really upset Sunday after dog-nappers walked off with 17 doggies worth as much as $15,000.

She told reporter Pat Rehkamp, "We're thinking it's time for a new neighborhood."
With all the trouble at Durkin Park where brawling teenagers divided by race rumbled over God-knows-what and sent one kid to the hospital — that put a spotlight on the Scottsdale neighborhood in July, I gave Cindy Groenewold a call to ask her why this was the last straw.

And to find out if racial changes in that part of town had anything to do with her desire to relocate.

She said ,"That was spoken in anger. I didn't think that was going to be quoted in the newspaper. We've been here 30 years, so things have changed ... It's a lot rougher. Society has gotten a lot less civil. And I guess I'm older and crabbier than I used to be."

So it's not about the "changes," racial and otherwise?

"I'd rather not say that," Groenewold said.

Anyway, the family pet store isn't moving to the suburbs.

"We're not going anywhere. Yeah, I was mad and wanted out of here. But we have a lot of good customers and we're fairly close to downtown, so people are coming down here from further north."

(Folks come to Pet Luv Pet Center to get those dogs that fit in a tea cup, and other trendy mutts that cost a couple grand.)

Besides, a Lowes is moving into the shopping complex. And that, Groenewold hopes, will be a change that's good for business.

It’s touching that Oprah feels sad and devastated about what happened — the abuse and rape — at the Leadership Academy for Girls School she founded at Henley-on-Kilp, South Africa.

When she heard the news a dorm mom sexually assaulted students, Oprah says spent a “half-hour going around my house crying.” It must be how the Pope feels about all those pedophile priests.

Nobody would say that what happened is Oprah’s fault. She invested loads of good will and $40 million into a school she hopes will help disadvantaged South African girls reach achieve their greatest dreams. That’s admirable. Besides, $40 million isn’t chump change — even for a billionaire.

But what bugs me a bit about Oprah’s good intentions is that she picked South Africa as the place to help disadvantaged girls.

Shouldn’t charity begin at home? Or better yet, in Chicago?

Don’t neighborhoods like Roseland and Englewood and K-town — even the Near West Side close to Harpo Studios — have plenty of disadvantaged girls who could use a place like Oprah’s leadership academy.

And the young ladies who live in Chicago public housing — or those displaced when Stateway Gardens came down — what about them? Shouldn’t American’s stars — the rich and powerful people such as Oprah, Sidney Poitier, Spike Lee, Chris Tucker, Tina Turner and Mary J. Blige who backed the South African school — be concerned enough about the people suffering in Chicago’s hoods to make a real effort to help people here.

Maybe that’s the risk of being a filthy rich superstar — you really start to believe that you’re a resident of the world and your global vision, ccidentally of course, blinds you to the trouble lingering in your own front yard. Or maybe I just get tired of reading about celebrities focusing so much of their charity — and adoption — efforts in other parts of the world when neighborhoods here could use the help.

What some of our communities need is a big shot like Oprah or Michael Jordan or Gigi Pritzker or anybody else with the lots of cash and influence to adopt an entire community and help make it a better place.

We need them to get behind a podium next to Mayor Daley and announce that they’re going to invest their money and reputations — not in some faraway land or monument to themselves or over priced kiddie museum — right here in a part of Chicago where people are suffering from the influence of gangs, guns, drugs and poverty.

I know that has nothing to do with the horrible things that happened at the school for the disadvantaged girls of Henley-on-Kilp.

But it’s something I think about from time to time, mostly on nights when the not-so-distant sound of gunfire out my window demands my attention.

What do you think?

So it's about 7:45 and the dogs next door — Weimaraners, a breed of hunting dog that enjoys barking for fun and when its bored and just about every other time someone's not paying attention to them— are yapping their skinny little butts off.

Even in my rather quiet corner of Chicago, the noise gets to me ...

Name the neighborhood where you can find the "Irish Castle" pictured in Today's Sun-Times.

Be first to post the answer and win a Sun-Times T-shirt.

Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2007 is the previous archive.

December 2007 is the next archive.

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