Life in the city: 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.

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

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.

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.

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."


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 ...

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 a archive of entries in the Life in the city category from November 2007.

Life in the city: October 2007 is the previous archive.

Life in the city: December 2007 is the next archive.

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