2. Lord of the Flies
Brian Frick encountered a different 3-year-old child from the inquisitive fellow that was imprinting on Officer Mike Hanson.
"I had a 3-year-old say 'Fuck you, bitch.'"
The gender switch was not inadvertent - in the misogynist culture of gangsta rap, "bitch" is the ultimate way one man insults another.
"Who taught him that?" Frick wonders. "If I had said that my father would have brought out the belt."
Frick, 31, is the newly elected president of the Park Ridge neighborhood association. Not that anyone else wanted the job.
Frick says he'd be happy to meet me for coffee Saturday morning if he could get a good night's sleep. The night before, an all-night party kept him awake and in a bad mood for work that Friday. About 60 people - apparently without needing to worry about work that morning - were playing music, drinking in the street, smashing bottles, using drugs, and arguing. Parties in the 'hood always seem to devolve that way. Car headlights illuminated the proceedings, revving engines added to the cacophony.
Three times he called the police department's non-emergency number before dialing 9-1-1. A marked squad car drove through announcing "party over" on its loudspeaker before driving away. Fifteen minutes later, the revelers coalesced back into the street. It didn't end until 4:15 in the morning when three squad cars convened on the site
"It's just ridiculous!" Like many in these neighborhoods, Frick wonders why police can't issue tickets for laws already on the books - in this case, open intoxicants and curfew violations.
Back in the Hammersley area, a white woman - "don't call me a racist! I'm married to a black man" - marvels: "The young people walking across my lawn are using the 'F word,' waking up my kids, walking in the middle of the road, not moving for us to drive by, and are loud and disrespectful, throwing garbage and refusing to pick it up, coming into my driveway to look into my cars."
Now let's move down to the Balsam-Leland area. Your correspondent met her late father at his doorway when campaigning for county board 15 years ago. No complaints about crime then. This is a recent phenomenon.
Today, his daughter lives in that house, as she has for 33 years. Like many, she wants to be anonymous for fear of reprisal. She describes life on her street:
"Last night I heard foul/abusive language outside my home. There were people running around and a lot of talking/yelling around 9:30-ish. I called 911. The operator told me a squad car was already on the way. The Police arrive and there is a lot of yelling and abusive language -to the Officers.
"I am not sure if there were any arrests, apparently a car was broken into. The squad cars left and the foul talk and exhilaration lasted until about 11:00 p.m. Apparently this is fun and some form of entertainment. This happens every week. Officers come and go and it starts up again.
"Earlier this week, there were cars up and down Mayhill...with people sitting in them... some people running in the front yards and back yards. I couldn't see cars or license plates or faces. The next morning I saw a wallet that looked to have been tossed into my neighbor's yard. I was too afraid to touch it.
"Such is life on Mayhill Drive, where I can look out my front window and see drug deals. Mayhill Drive, where I can come home from work and find an empty bottle of Cialis …. Mayhill Drive, where I walk my dog down the street and people I do not know call me a BITCH. Life on Mayhill, when I wake up in the middle of the night to find grown men drinking beer in my front yard and leaving their Corona beer bottles on the grass.
"Such is life on Mayhill, when I can hear the slaps and punches of people fighting over I don't know what. Such is life on Mayhill. It is not good."
Ernie and Jean Horinek are two of the good guys. They screen renters for their properties on Balsam Road. "This is the worst year I've seen on Balsam Road," Ernie says.
"It's like Lord of the Flies out here," says a young father who lives on the same street. He makes the remark at a crime-fighting strategy session held at the Madison West Precinct police station on McKenna Boulevard, just south of Elver Park. The meeting concludes only a few hours before Karamee Collins Jr., age 17, from the Hammersley-Loreen area, was gunned down at the corner of Balsam-Leland.
"There is no parental supervisions, loud music. I put my kids to bed with the windows closed when it's 80 degrees outside."
The "Lord of the Flies" reference was to the classic novel exploring how teenage boys without adults descend into savagery. The irony is that Collins met his doom only weeks after the defeat of Alds. Thuy Pham-Remmele and Jed Sanborn's enhanced curfew ordinance that, as originally proposed, would have enjoined his accused 16-year-old killers from being on these increasingly mean streets.
Hearing these troubles, one is tempted to suggest that law-abiding residents just move somewhere else. The father on Balsam promises to move for the sake of his children.
Brian Frick is staying put. "I got a good deal" on his half of a duplex, Frick explains. "I'm not going to move. I'll be like Gran Torino."
It's a reference to the movie in which Clint Eastwood plays the last bulwark against the urban decay of modern-day Detroit, and pays the ultimate price for his heroism.
Next on Blaska's Blog: "I'm getting a mean dog and I'm keeping him hungry."