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Month: May 2022

Come to Chicago Go home in a box

Image: PV Bella

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she was “not happy” about violence that again touched downtown Chicago over the weekend and ended with a cancellation of Sunday night’s performance of the musical “Moulin Rouge.”

“We’re working our tails off every single day. Obviously not happy about this weekend,” Lightfoot told reporters at an unrelated news conference.

Particularly distressing is, again, the number of young people that seemingly are involved in acts of violence. It’s clearly not acceptable and that’s why we’ve got to keep doing the things that we know are working.(Chicago Tribune/Emphasis Mine)

There was another shooting downtown early Tuesday morning. Four people were shot at an intersection. 30-forty casings were found at the scene, some of them rifle rounds. “Tuesday’s victims are the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth persons shot in the Loop this year.” (CWB)

I do not know what delusional world Mayor Lori Lightfoot lives in or if she believes the lies of her subordinates and police superintendent. She wants to keep doing things she “knows are working.” Nothing the city is doing to mitigate violent crime is working. Not one damn thing. The only thing that curbed crime so far this year was the cold weather. As temps rise, crime will rise. So will the body count.

The streets are not safe. Public transportation is not safe. Businesses are not safe. There is no safe in Chicago. The criminals are winning. The public is losing. It is long past time for City Hall to realize that Superintendent David “Tex” Brown is a complete failure. He has no idea what he is doing. Brown has no credibility. His data and data analytics are not credible. They are just pornography for the hormonally charged news media.

Where are the alderpersons? The crime is happening in their wards- their backyards- yet most are dead silent. It appears they do not care about the safety or lives of their constituents, or themselves.

Where are the business leaders and organizations? They, too, are silent. They keep bosting Chicago while the headlines tout the violence downtown, on Michigan Avenue, and Near North, the tourist and business travelers’ areas.

How many people must go through emergency rooms or bodies stacked up in the morgue before someone wakes up and says ENOUGH? Nothing they “know is working” will work when the weather warms up. All the plans, strategies, deployments, and other nonsense the Superintendent of Police keep washing, rinsing, and repeating will fail again and again.

The problem is that elected officials and their appointees can never admit that they are wrong, even to themselves. Failure is an option is a better strategy than admitting failure.

Where are the news media editorial boards? They have been silent for way too long. They should be scorching City Hall and David Brown. They, like the alderpersons, are silent.

Where is the outrage from the citizens, each and every one a potential victim? Do people really believe nothing can happen to them? Are people really that blind? There should be an uprising over this city’s lack of public safety.

Chicago is a city of silent scoundrels. The silence is just as criminal as the violence. Public safety is the most critical issue in governance. Lightfoot failed Chicago. Most of the alderpersons failed Chicago.” Tex” Brown is a failure. How many failures will it take for people to demand change?

There is this false narrative-misinformation- in the news media that the COVID pandemic was a driver of violent crimes. Oh, how convenient. The new mantra from Brown and Lightfoot? “Guns, gangs, drugs, and COVID are the reasons for violent crime. ” The gullible people will suck this up and believe it.

There is one way to curb crime in Chicago. You, the people. You can flood your alderpersons with emails, phone calls, and in-person visits. You can make your voices heard in public when they have meetings. It is time for citizens to be literal pains in the arse to the elected officials.

Politicians’ greatest fear is unemployment. If the public outcry is loud enough and large enough, they will do what really works. As long as you are silent, you are a potential innocent victim. People need to stop believing if it doesn’t happen to them, there is no violent crime problem.

Mayor Lightfoot bid for the 2024 Democratic Convention to be held in Chicago. I guess touting Capone era violence must have charm appeal. Maybe we should raise our collective voices and not just say no, but HELL NO! No one asked us if we wanted that convention here. By 2024, Chicago could be a dystopian war zone. They want to throw a party. What are they going to celebrate? Murder and mayhem?

The Rice Man Cometh

Image: PV Bella

The wagons were sometimes called meat wagons. Besides transporting prisoners, they hauled dead bodies, in police parlance, meat.

One hot, muggy summer day, a call came over the radio for the wagon about a complainant of a strong odor. Strong odor only meant one thing, a stinker, a decomposed dead body. The wagon men located the cause of the odor. The stench was strongest at an old gray stone two-flat. The stench emanated over a half-block in both directions.

The wagon men tried to get in the front and back doors. They could not kick in or use sledgehammers on the doors. The doors were hinged to open outwards. The wagon guys went to break windows. Whoever lived there installed glass block windows on the inside of the building. They never took out the old windows, so no one knew.

Somehow, the wagon men figured out a way to get inside. Within minutes they ran out of the building, retching, vomiting, then dry heaving. They needed a plan. They called for a sergeant.

Sergeant Smurf* showed up. He called for the other two wagons. The wagon men would go in and out in two-man relays. Two guys ran in, went up to the second floor, did what they could, and ran out, retching and vomiting. The following two did the same. Then the next two. Over and over.

One of the first wagon guys told everyone that maggots were all over and covered the floor. For the uninitiated, maggots look like fat grains of rice. They snap, crackle, and pop when you step on them. So, the dead guy became the Rice Man.

No air could get in to alleviate some of the odor. The heat and humidity made it worse. The relays kept going in and running out, retching.

The sergeant tossed me a twenty. He told me to go to the nearest liquor store to get some booze to revive the retching cops.

There was heat over minor misconduct from downtown, and Inspectors were wandering all over the area. It would not look good to get caught going into a liquor store while working. I went to the fruit stand at the corner of Roosevelt and Kedzie. We knew the owner and would stop by from time to time to chat. The owner sent his nephew to a liquor store down the street. He came back with a quart of cheap brandy and change. The stand owner had some of that pink Bismol stuff. Who knew where or how he got it? Who cared? I grabbed a few bottles.

As each relay came out and vomited or dry heaved, the sergeant gave them a swig of booze and some pink stuff. I don’t know what it did for their stomachs, but it helped them go back in, again and again. Maybe that is why they call booze “liquid courage.”

It took a while to get the Rice Man out of the building and into a wagon. They did not want to move him off the bed onto a stretcher as badly decomposed bodies tend to explode. You get splashed with gore. They lifted the mattress and carried it with him on it—relay after relay.

While the wagon men were working, retching, vomiting, and getting loaded, we started asking some questions.

The Rice Man was one of the very few White people who refused to move during the White flight out of Lawndale in the 1950s and early 1960s. He lived there alone, minding his own business. No one bothered him. He bothered no one. Some remembered a wife. Others were not sure.

The Rice Man retired some years past. He rarely was seen out of his home. However, neighbors remembered a person driving him to and from the grocery store now and then. He was not friendly or unfriendly. He just was. He was burglarized a few times. That would explain the camouflaged glass block windows and doors hung backward.

No one had much to say about the Rice Man. He lived alone in that second-floor apartment. The first floor was vacant.

After the wagon took him to the morgue, we got what little information we could and went back to business as usual. It became another tale to tell in the tavern after work. Years later, we would reminisce, “Remember the Rice Man”?

The Rice Man’s home was his castle fortress. All it needed was a moat and alligators in the moat. Maybe he thought about that but got too old, sick, crippled, or addled to do it.

No one knows if the Rice Man was a racist, afraid, or just stubborn. No one knows why he had no one to take care of him in his old age. No one knows why he died alone, in bed, sealed up in a fortress of his making. He lay there in rot, decomposition, and putrefaction. Maggots covered him and his bedroom. They snapped, crackled, and popped when you stepped on them.

That is the sad thing in the City of Big Shoulders. People die alone. No one hears their cries of pain or calls for help. No one knows if they are sick or otherwise incapacitated. Sometimes, like the Rice Man, they barely exist. It is only the telltale stench that gives their death away.

*Smurf was the sergeant’s nickname due to his stature.

A Corner of Chicago

Photo: PV Bella

Chicago is legendary for the work ethic of its artists. They are known for their prolific output.

Robert Hardy  (1903-1976) was a Chicago legend. Andrews was born in Kansas. His mother died when he was young. His father was a traveling physician for Native American reservations. Hardy’s early life was itinerant, following his father through the Midwest. From time to time, he was raised by his grandmother.

When he was barely out of his teens, he landed a job as a reporter in Minneapolis. Due to a fabricated obituary he wrote, Henry Justin Smith, the editor of the Chicago Daily News, offered him a job. Bob Andrews, as he was later known, came to Chicago and helped make history.

Andrews, barely 21 years old, became the editor of Midweek, the Wednesday magazine supplement of the Daily News. He shared an office and became a friend of poet Carl Sandburg, a reporter at the time. While putting out the magazine, the muse struck. Andrews started to write. He contributed short stories to Midweek under a nom de plume.

On a bet, he wrote, typed, and finished a novel in seven days, “Three Girls Lost.” He did this alongside his responsibilities on Midweek and other duties at the Daily News. He typed over 100,000 words in seven days, not counting the rewritten or wasted pages. The book was serialized in the Daily News before it was published. Andrews sold the movie rights for $7500 ($141,900 today) in 1930. Loretta Young and John Wayne starred in the movie.

In 1922, the Daily News owned a large share of what would soon become the WMAQ radio station. WMAQ eventually moved from its original location, the LaSalle Hotel, to the new Daily News Building at 400 W. Madison (2 N. Riverside Plaza). Eventually, WMAQ was bought by NBC and moved to The Merchandise Mart.

Andrews was approached by Anne Ashenhurst (Future wife of Frank Hummert) of Blackett, Sample & Hummert Advertising. Ashenhurst and Hummert were early pioneers in getting companies to sponsor radio shows, especially what would eventually become soap operas. Mrs. Hummert convinced Andrews to write radio scripts for fifteen-minute-long daytime shows.

It is claimed Ms. Ashenhurst invented the successful template for the radio soap opera. She made them famous and a financial success using formulaic stories. Anne Hummert was a pioneer and an advocate of advertising to appeal to women more than men. Robert Hardy Andrews became legendary through this partnership, though his name is long forgotten.

He wrote scripts for “Just Plain Bill” (originally “Bill the Barber”), “Judy and Jane,” “Ma Perkins,” “Skippy,” “The Stolen Husband,” and “Terry and Mary.” His contract required he keep twenty shows ahead at all times. Andrews did all this while holding down his desk at the Daily News and being a man about town.

Andrews settled in the Tower Town neighborhood. Tower Town stretched from the Water Tower, for which it was named, south to the Chicago River, along Michigan Avenue, and west to Wells St. It was a haven for people living a Bohemian lifestyle. Artists, writers, and entertainers of all kinds lived in Tower Town.

When he started making real money from radio, Andrews moved into the Malabry Court, on the rooftop of 669 N. Michigan (Cole Hahn today). The Malabry Court consisted of six small two-story townhouses surrounding a courtyard with a fountain and garden.

Though he did not create the character, Roberts wrote the storylines and scripts for “Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy.” The character was created by a General Mills executive. The shows were used to promote and sell Wheaties cereal. The series ran from 1933 to 1951.

Roberts wrote more books while working at the Daily News and writing radio scripts. “Windfall” would become the radio and television show “The Millionaire.” Roberts was involved in the production of both. “One Girl Found” was a sequel to “Three Girls Lost.”

Roberts wrote on average 100,000 words per week. When there had to be rewrites, edits, or last-minute additions of new characters or storylines, he could produce 20 to 30 thousand words in one day. It was said Roberts had fingers of steel and a posterior of iron.

Andrews eventually left Chicago and went to Hollywood. He wrote screenplays, produced television shows and movies, and became involved in other aspects of the international movie business.

In 1963, Robert Hardy Andrews wrote “A Corner of Chicago,” a biographical sketch of his time in Chicago. The book is a fascinating look at Chicago during the 1920s and 30s and the inner workings of a major newspaper. Robert Andrews idolized Henry Justin Smith and was honored to be a member of the Daily News, “The paper that went home.”

The book describes the characters Andrews came in contact with at the newspaper, on the street, and during his evening carousing in various speakeasies, hotel dining rooms, restaurants, and other places. There are colorful gamblers, saloon owners, pets, and stories about Chicago places long gone, like Tower Town. There are down in the heel actors, raconteurs, rags to riches and riches to rags stories, gangsters, stories of murder and mayhem, and some of the famous and infamous who passed through Chicago lore.

Robert Hardy Andrews died in 1976 in Santa Monica, California.

“A Corner of Chicago” is no longer in publication, though copies can be found on Amazon and eBay.

Cappleman the Cruel

Cappleman the Cruel/Image 46th Ward/Enhanced by PV Bella

“When well-meaning residents step in to help, it can slow down efforts of the case manager who’s building trust with their client, and that ultimately slows down efforts to get them into permanent housing…

…The best way the public can help is by supporting the case manager’s role of being the lead support for their client. Instead of providing food and other items directly, it’s much better to donate items or money to the person’s assigned social service agency.” (Alderman James Cappleman/Uptown Update)

“Craft legislation that would allow the City to fine those who give out propane tanks to people living under the viaducts.”

“ I support requiring the viaduct encampments to move to the nearby open space where some other tents are already located to reduce the safety risks for those currently living under the viaduct.“

“My ask to have the viaducts cleared to make it safe for everyone has been denied and I fear it’s only a matter of time when an injury will lead to a needless death.” (46th Ward Newsletter)

Alderman James Cappleman, AKA Cappleman the Cruel, has been trying to eliminate the homeless camps from his gentrifying ward since being elected in 2011. There has been an encampment under the viaduct at DuSable Lake Shore Drive for several years. Cappleman wants it gone. He does not care about homelessness. He wants them out of his ward.

Cappleman does not want the current and future over-privileged pampered residents to see the homeless or their encampments in his gentrified ward. He wants them to disappear. Cappleman’s only solution is removal. He is devoid of humanity.

Cappleman the Cruel does not want “well-meaning” people to assist the homeless directly with food, money, or other necessities. He wants them to donate to “assigned” social service agencies. Well-meaning people should ignore Cappleman. Give whatever they want to whoever they want. No one has a right to tell people how to help others or determine what is best for others. None of those agencies have expertise. The homeless camps would not be so large and entrenched if they did.

Cappleman the Cruel wants the city to fine people who give propane tanks to the homeless. Is Cappleman going to have the Propane Police stationed on-site? Guess what? The camp will start open fires to stay warm. That will create a more significant safety issue. Cappleman does not understand the psychology of survival. People will do whatever it takes to survive, even thumb their noses at an alderman.

Cappleman wants the encampments to move to the open areas of the park. Years ago, when there was a large camp in that area, he wanted it removed because people claimed it was an eyesore. The viaduct provides shelter from the sun, rain, and snow. It is an eyesore for pampered people who want to pass under to get to the lake, his real reason for wanting the viaduct encampment removed. It has nothing to do with the safety of the homeless, drivers on DLSD, or pedestrians, runners, and cyclists traversing the viaduct to get to the lake.

Most alderpersons do not care about public safety. Just look at how dangerous the whole city is. Cappleman does not care about public safety. He does care about getting reelected. He cares about the voters who complain about the camps being a blot on their pristine paradise.

Cappleman claims the homeless refuse cots in shelters. He is right. The people must leave most shelters in the morning. They are back on the street again. Due to space restrictions, they cannot bring all their possessions to the shelter. Why would people even consider a system that only provides overnight comfort, especially during inclement weather? Some refused other types of housing due to various restrictions.

Cappleman claims the homeless do not trust the case managers and other city agencies. There is a good reason for the distrust. They do little to transition the homeless into permanent housing, jobs, and medical or mental health treatments. Many homeless have mental issues and suffer from substance abuse or alcoholism. Those require long-range solutions.

Cappleman has been trying to remove the homeless population from the park and lakefront for years. The homeless are winning. They are staying until this city gets smart. That could be a long while.

Cappleman has no solutions to transition the homeless to treatment, jobs, and housing. He never did. Cappleman is the only alderman who publicly shames the homeless and demands their removal. It is almost criminal the way Cappleman frames the growing homeless problem.

The number of homeless people in Chicago is at an all-time high. The situation is complex due to the various reasons people are homeless. Like poverty, homelessness will not be eliminated. It can be mitigated. No one wants to spend the money for the long-term solutions necessary to reduce homelessness. The NIMBYs do not want facilities to assist the homeless in their neighborhoods. NIMBYs do not want anything in their communities that will help others.

Cappleman does not want to mitigate the homeless problem in his gentrified ward. He wants the homeless gone, out of sight, out of mind. Cappleman is a typical creature of municipal government. He does not want to solve problems. He prefers they go away.

“Well-meaning” people should be lauded instead of condemned for trying to do some good in this city of scoundrels, like Cappleman. They are doing more than Cappleman or the city is. They are stepping in due to the failure of the city.

There is no law against compassion. If it were up to Cappleman, there would be.