Apartment life, Capitol Square, Chiropractor, City Life, City of Trees, Crime, Homeless, Homeless Shelter, Isthmus Daily Page, Madison WI, Metropolitan Place, Panhandling, Personal Health Issues, Police, Poverty, Real Estate Development, State Street, The Isthmus

Gentrification Redux

However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.

Henry David Thoreau

Some time ago I asked whether or not gentrification was a good thing. Frankly, I think it’s a mixed bag. Our neighborhood is becoming more “foot-friendly” and there are more and more daily services moving into downtown Madison. Gentrification does have its pluses if it is done judiciously.

I recently visited Dr Aaron Abplanalp who has opened up shop at Life City in one of the Metropolitan Place retail spaces. He’s a fine addition to the neighborhood and since I need the services of a chiropractor frequently due to some serious injuries to my back, the convenience of having a good doctor within walking distance is a treasure.

At the same time this kind of rhetoric on the part of developers in the downtown area reported on in “The Isthmus Daily Page in late September just smacks classicism and possibly racism since many of these people are people of color:

Teen center eyed as homeless shelter

Developer calls for moving homeless men off the Square
Vikki Kratz on Wednesday 09/26/2007

Madison developer Cliff Fisher is bothered to see homeless men on the Capitol Square. He wishes they were somewhere else.

“People come here and all they see is people standing around, begging for money,” says Fisher, who owns more than a dozen downtown properties. “We have the most beautiful Capitol, and you see people panhandling.”

Granted it isn’t pleasant to be harassed by homeless people for money but I live in Mr Fisher’s neighborhood. I walk the streets past his developments and I interact with these homeless people. For the most part I don’t see them harassing anyone when they’re turned down politely.

What I HAVE seen are people who are publicly intoxicated or strung out on drugs harassing people. That is a different matter entirely. That is a law enforcement problem.

That they also happen to be homeless is incidental. Those people could be removed from the scene if the police were properly enforcing the law.  If people called and reported the fact that someone who was publicly intoxicated was being a public nuisance the police would have to go out there and do their jobs.  I doubt the Madison Police would have a problem doing that.

For the most part, the Police do take care of the public nuisances as they walk their beat in the downtown area but they can’t be everywhere at once and like naughty children the bad apples in the barrel will wait until the Police have their back turned to act out. When you are being harassed, call the police. Hang around in the vicinity until the cops arrive and point out the bad apple. Take the risk.

Moving the homeless shelters off the square and away from the ritzy condos isn’t going to solve the problem. Do you think these people are stupid? State Street and the Square are their bread and butter. They’ll just walk eight blocks or however far you push them out to get back up here where the cash and the foot traffic is.

Don’t be absurd and think you can get rid of a social problem by trying to hide it, Mr Fisher. Don’t be part of the problem; be part of the solution and help create jobs for these people so they have no need of shelters or begging on the streets of this beautiful city of ours. And don’t be so presumptuous that you forget it is their city too!

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City Life, College Students, College Town Life, Crime, Downtown Madison, Freakfest, Halloween Party, Madison WI, Police, State Street, Surveillance Cameras, University of Wisconsin--Madison, WISCONSIN, Wisconsin State Journal

An the Goblins Will Get Ya If Ya Don’t Watch Out!

Little Orphan Annie’s come to my house to stay.
To wash the cups and saucers up and brush the crumbs away.
To shoo the chickens from the porch
and dust the hearth and sweep,
and make the fire and bake the bread
to earn her board and keep.
While all us other children, when the supper things is done,
we sit around the kitchen fire and has the mostest fun,
a listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about
and the goblins will get ya if ya don’t watch out!

“The Little Orphan Annie” by James Witcomb Riley

The big Halloween Party weekend has come and gone for another year. Freakfest was a huge success at least in terms of safety and lack of violence and property damage. According to “The Wisconsin State Journal” it only cost the city $500, 000! Somewhere in the neighborhood of 34,000 people attended and paid the $5.00 admission fee and only 175 of them got arrested.

It was pretty tame from my point of view except that the last band was really loud and one of the points of exit must have been close to home because there was a significant amount of boisterous foot traffic on my street which made my dog nervous. The light went out well before 3:00 am though.

Three years ago I listened and watched as the tension with at least twice as many people versus a much smaller police force came to a head and the riots began. Walking down State Street the next morning was almost like walking through a warzone Our Mayor and City Council deserve congratulations and Thanks for turning this annual gathering into a safe but fun party once again.

Unfortunately I had developed a fine case of insomnia but the city was calm and quiet by 3:30. There weren’t even any house parties with loud music disturbing the peace nearby. No screams and cries for help like I heard this past summer when one of the rapes took place nearby. No arguments from domestic disturbances. Pretty tame for a Saturday night. Gosh, it’s good to have the students back in town!

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City Government, City Life, College Town Life, Crime, London, Madison WI, Police, State Street, Surveillance Cameras, United Kingdom, WISC-TV, WISCONSIN

I’ll Be Watching You

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
Ill be watching you

STING “I’ll Be Watching You” (Feat, The Police)

So it begins, the constant eyes watching our every move as we make our way to and from work or play. The authorities are putting up the first security cameras in my neighborhood. It will be set up at the bottom of State Street according to reports from WISC-TV Channel 3. Police officers will be able to monitor the feed from their patrol cars.

I don’t know how to feel about this Orwellian touch of Big Brother intrusion into the daily lives of our citizens. Part of me hates it because…well, because I’m a liberal and I’m supposed to hate any intrusion of the government into my privacy. I don’t want to live in a world where we’re under constant surveillance by the authorities.

But To be honest with you, I’m worried sick about the crazy, awful stuff that has been going on in my neighborhood out on the streets after dark. I’m scared to walk the streets after dark without an escort. And there are all kinds of people out and about on the well lit streets in my neighborhood after dark so it’s not like I’m going off into some dark alley somewhere.

Heck, I’m almost scared to scurry across my courtyard to the grocery store and back without an escort. Someone got mugged in MY COURTYARD late at night (actually in the wee hours of the morning) not too long ago! But they were flashing cash, having stopped at the ATM. I’m not that dumb. But still…

I heard the horrified screams of the victim of one of the recent rapes from the safety of my apartment earlier this spring. It happened two blocks away from me. I heard her terror and her pain. I called 911 and then I listened to it happen and felt awful because I couldn’t help that victim any more than I already had.

I’m having a hard time finding a solid reason why it isn’t a good thing to have those cameras there on State Street. I mean, seriously, if we had the cash we could put a police officer on those same street corners 24/7 watching for the same things they are watching for with the cameras. It’s a public place, haven’t you already given up some of your rights to privacy by walking out your front door?

The Bobbies in London are going to be wearing helmets with cameras soon. The UK already has surveillance cameras everywhere, now their policemen are going to be filming every step they take. Bobbies doing double duty so to speak.

It’s a sad comment on the break down of society that we have to even think about taking such steps as putting surveillance cameras up because we don’t have enough manpower to keep track of the criminal element amongst us and protect ourselves from them much less bring them to justice. It may be Orwellian but the question has to be raised:  Don’t we have too many missing persons and too many unsolved murders in this town to sit here and be opposed to surveillance cameras just on principal?

Damn, it hurts to say that! This could be a very slippery slope we are starting down.

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"Igor the Mighty", City Life, Crime, Dogs, Downtown Madison, Madison WI, Pets, Police, The Isthmus, WISCONSIN

Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog

 I memorize every line
I kiss the name that you sign
And darlin, then I read again right from the start
Love letters straight from your heart

by Elvis Presley (words and music by Edward Heyman and Victor Young)

OK, here’s a question for all you dog owners out there. Do your dogs fake poop?  I take Igor out for one last walk every evening around 11:00 PM and we always walk the same route. He noses around until he finds a place he wants to pee and that could be anywhere but he always stops in the same spot to poop. A spot which he seems to need to locate exactly by smell.

Then he takes the pooping stance. You know that “Omigawd I’ve got to dump a big one and it ain’t gonna be pretty” contorted dog stance? The one that makes you look away and pretend that that isn’t your dog on the end of the leash you are holding in your hand. The one that makes you cringe because it looks like something so damn painful is about to happen. The one where they get “that look” on their face, like they’re concentrating on something very important.

OK so he makes the stop and takes the stance and does the poop dance. You know, the poop dance. Those four or five steps a dog takes when they are are all hunched up in the contorted poop stance with that far away look on their sweet faces while they are actually releasing the poop from their colon. THAT dance.

Ok, so Igor does the poop dance in the same place every night but I’ll be damned if I can ever find the evidence. I swear, there is NEVER any poop there. I thought maybe I just can’t see the poop. Bad night vision and all that but when I go back to look the next day I could never find any evidence of poop.

I really doubt if there is a poop patrol out there cleaning up after Igor and me. But one never knows and Madison has laws about leaving pet waste laying around. I don’t want to be breaking any laws. Especially not shitty laws.

My friend Kathleen has started walking with us for the past few nights and she couldn’t see any poop either. So tonight she reminded me to take my flashlight and brought hers along as well. We decided we were going to solve this poop mystery. Dogs just don’t FAKE poop.

Igor fakes pooping. Every.single.night. He goes throught the ritual of pooping but he doesn’t poop. He pretends to poop!

Why? Why does he assume the stance, get that look on his face, and embarrass himself and me every.single.night? What’s with that?

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