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If You Riot, Will They Come?

12/31/2004

In this article from the New York Times Virginia Postrel discusses the effect of the urban riots in the late sixties and early seventies had on the property values of urban blacks. It looks like, no surprise, riots depress property values.

I worked in redevelopment in Camden, NJ for four (loooong) years. While I was there I did a lot of research on homeownership rates and demographic change in all of Camden, but since my job was primarily to dig up funding for a park in North Camden, I paid particular attention to two economically devastating events for the north side of the City of Camden. First, the building of the Ben Franklin Bridge, and second the riots in North Camden in 1969 and 1971.

The Delaware River Bridge, now the Ben Franklin, and it's approach, the Admiral Wilson Blvd. Effectively cut North Camden off from the rest of the city. For years there was only one way to get to south Camden, an underpass on the western side of the bridge toll plaza. In the late seventies, an overpass was built on the east side, but until then, one two-lane tunnel. The tunnel was closed in the 80's, it's almost exactly like the one on the Philly side of the bridge o you use to get to old city. North Camden was primarily a residential section of the city, bounded by Pyne Point Park, the dump and the river. The bridge plaza was constructed on top of what used to be a very nice upscale neighborhood, and Pyne Point Park was lovely. However, there were few large employers on this side of town, and the ones that were there, well, try and imagine working at Knox gelatin. The big employers were in the south, RCA, Campbells Soup, and YorkShip, the best Hospitals were in the East, Cooper and Lady of Lourdes, and if you wanted to get anywhere, well you had a tough time. By the late 30's the exodus to Merchantville, Pennsauken and Riverton had begun. By the early 60's most of North Camden by the bridge and river was a low-income, mostly black and Hispanic area with houses owned by absentee landlords.

Political corruption was alwaysin vogue in Camden, and at the end of the sixties, the almost all-white city government was completely at odds with the needs and desires of the by that time mostly Puerto Rican population of North Camden. After an earlier series of race riots in 1969, the political situation by 1971 was so bad the there were three days of protests by the Puerto Rican community in front of City Hall. The Mayor of Camden absolutely refused to meet with representatives of the Puerto Rican Community and riots erupted all across Camden, but mostly concentrated in North Camden. North Camden became a war zone, and by the time it was over, if you had the money to leave Camden, you did. Whole neighborhoods of people from the east side of Camden moved out in the early 70's and moved to brand new developments in Marlton and Cherry Hill, even as far out as Rancocas in Burlington County. It's an absolutely amazing story. Today there are very few stable working class neighborhoods, mostly in the south, Fairveiw is one, others way out east, by route 130, but mostly Camden is a ghost town. The population of 79,000 is down from 125,00 in 1960. White people, no way around it, are afraid to even drive through Camden.

Many people simply abandoned the houses that they owned in the city. I spent weeks at City Hall looking at tax records in order to find ownership statistics. It was a nightmare. Less than 20% of the houses in North Camden are owner occupied, ONE IN THREE houses is an abandoned or condemned property. There has not been a commercial bank branch in North Camden open for OVER FIFTY YEARS. The closest movie theater is in Cherry Hill. In 1991 on the night before Halloween, 181 houses were burned to the ground. In 1981 the mayor raised property taxes 88% in one day. The situation was so bad that riverfront State Prison was built right in the middle of North Camden, on hundreds of acres, with barely a whimper of protest.

The crack epidemic in the late 80's early 90's and the resultant gang wars, combined with the persistent poverty of the population made Camden the most dangerous city to live in in the entire US. An unemployment rate of 16% in the city as compared to 6% in the county and a violent crime rate of 19% in the city and 5.5% in the rest of the county is an illustration of the problem. 79% of the children born in Camden City in 2002 were born to unmarried mothers. 8.5% of those giving birth reported using illegal drugs during pregnancy. Property valuation is so skewed that the average rent on a three bedroom in Camden is over $1000 per month. A single apartment goes for over $500.

Three out of the last five elected mayors have been indicted for offenses ranging from ebezzelment to drug trafficking.

I worked in North Camden at the Northgate II apartment complex and Northgate Park for three years. While I was there I met some really nice people who worked very hard for a living, and I met some really nice people who did very bad things for a living. I also met some people who weren't so nice and didn't do anything but exist. But the majority of people I knew wanted out. Anywhere. They weren't going to stay in Camden, period.

I've seen the Camden Waterfront, and I agree that it's kind of nice, but it's not going to fix the city. No one from the South Jersey suburbs is going to move in to downtown Camden, there's too much bad blood.

A True Find from the Wilds of the Internet

12/29/2004

I remember getting into a lot of trouble when my mom found out that I borrowed this from my next door neighbor.

"What are you doing with this pornography?', she yelled. "Hmmm," I thought, "pornography. Allll-right."

Do you people realize that that woman could have screwed me up for life? I could be some freak geting turned on by Alfred E. Newman.

Luckily, my neighbor's brother had an outstanding collection of titty books and Hustler's, so I was spared a future of freakdom.

I was even allowed to finish reading the damn magazine, since it spent the better part of the next two years next to the toilet in my parent's bathroom.

Maybe I should get the boys a subscription.

Back to Work

12/28/2004


One Year Down

I've been posting here for one year. Still not interesting.

Reggie White dies at 43

12/26/2004

Oh, Geeze. That's terrible. By all accounts, a great guy. Philly should step up and do something.

Do I Have a Home?

When we found out we had sold our house, we were a little at a loss. Panic mode set in and then a blizzard made it impossible for us to go see any houses before Christmas. I was a little tense, but not too worried. Mostly the same houses are for sale now that were for sale when we left Madison, and we're looking for different things now anyway. This time, we made two lists, Wants and Needs. Our Needs have changed a little, the list is actually shorter now. Our Wants actually changed significantly from when we bought this house. The list isn't any shorter, we've added a bunch of former Needs to it, but it's different.

That's the thing about moving so many times, you begin to get a good idea of what you don't want. Which, in my opinion, is more important than what you do want. Some people do this with wives. I was lucky, mine told me right out what I wanted and everything is cool now.

The interesting thing is, when we did up this list of Wants and Needs, and compared it to the houses that were for sale in the area that we wanted to live, none of the houses in our new and improved price range met the whole Needs list, and they barely touched the Wants list. So it was a toss-up, we can compromise on some of the Needs if it's got a few of the Wants. Doesn't have any of the Wants, but it comes close on the Needs. We went on and on until we got to the point we were at yesterday, namely, just stuck on price. "This house has two of our Needs and none of our Wants, but it's dirt cheap! We can add our needs on, as soon as we get the blood washed up." Yup, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel, murder houses, meth labs, HUD foreclosed, trailers. All of this in the four days since we sold our house. It didn't bode well.

Only one house that we knew of met every requirement on our Needs list. It was the house directly next door to our old house. Sure, it was ugly and needed a lot of work, but it had the room, the lot, the basement and had recently had the entire first floor re-done. They had started re-doing the upstairs baths and had just finished studding out the basement. It has a brand-new huge eat-in kitchen and new exterior French doors. In short, perfect. Perfect house, perfect neighborhood, perfect TAXES, perfect neighbors. There was only one problem. It wasn't for sale.

So I thought, "What the hell? You won't get what you don't ask for." So I sent Charisa over with a digital camera to spec the place out, she came back with decorating ideas, so I knew it was time to make an offer. We did, and to our surprise they were willing to sell, and could even make our deadline! We were stoked, let me tell you. But then the kicker, there always is one. They countered our offer.

Now what they countered at was and is, I think, a fair price for the house. If the house had been more complete, if the landscaping had been better taken care of, if any number of things. If we had been using a realtor, I might have been tempted to split the difference. But we weren't and it was more than I wanted to spend. We decided to look at the other houses for sale at the same price point and if we didn't find anything, well, then negotiations would start. But it was still more than I wanted to pay, and I really wasn't willing to go where I was sure this guy wanted me to go.

We called our friend Pat Lynch, whose father sold us our first house in Madison, and set up all the house showings for tomorrow. Even the murder houses. We were on our way. We had completely written off the house next door, and ready to find our new homestead and make it our own.

Then last night I got a call at about eight. They were willing to accept our original offer and could move immediately.

I'm still looking at the other houses, why not, but this one will be cheaper, and it's got everything we need, and we can be in it when we need to be. So, provided home inspection, title search and all that stuff goes well, and there's no problem closing on the house we're selling, I've got a home.

And I got it for Christmas.

And I Heard Him Exclaim as He Rode Out of Sight. . .

12/25/2004


Happy Christmas to All!


And to All a Good Night.

Christmas Eve

12/24/2004

My father -in-law made it in last night after four hours of sitting in
the snow on I-71 South below Cincinatti. Says when he finally got
moving again he didn't see any accidentd, just two snowplows sitting
by the side of the road. They didn't plow anything, but they were
there.

This is going to be a memorable Christmas. We've got tons of snow,
it's 0 degrees, we have one car, and we have three weeks to find a new
house and move. Still, we've got presents, and we've got freinds over
and the fireplace works. I've still got half a bottle of Capt' Morgan
and a half gallon of eggnog. Will brought me two more cases of
Yuengling, I've got a big bottle of red that eats like a steak and a
bottle of the same Chardonnay that my Dad had at Thanksgiving.
Assorted vodkas left over from summer, a big bottle of Canadian and
one of Maker's Mark and a twelve pack of Canada Dry. Why move it?
It's disposable.

Woke up this morning to the Veggie Tales and the Toy that Saved
Christmas. It's a good show, I like the Veggie Tales. Had to dig out
the bottom of the driveway, it got all iced in again. I think I'll
create a machine that simulates show shoveling and leaf raking. I'll
license the manufacturing rights to the Bowflex people and make a ton
of money. (And maybe even meet the hot granny they got goin' on their
commercials.) Spent the rest of the morning sledding with the Beast.
Huge fun. We were out there for hours. I'm so tired I might throw
up.

Curch in two hours, bed in four. Got everything wrapped and the
cookies are waiting. I can finally say I out did my wife in the gift
dept. All is well.

Merry Christmas.

Bleeerrereergh, urp.

It's My Birthday!

12/23/2004

I'm so happy. Check it out, Dell 8400, 3.4gig processor, 1 gig memory, 128meg video card, 7.1 surround sound 250gig HD gigabit ethernet, 17in LCD. All in one scanner, printer, copier, fax. Made before catalytic converters so it runs good on regular gas.


Thanks Easter Bunny!

This, on the other hand, sucks.


Happy Birthday to me

Federal court upholds Catholic school's right to dismiss religion teacher

12/20/2004

BANG! A big win!

When it rains. .

Tuesday, my car died. It's still in my driveway. Sunday, I sold my house. I have 20 working days to get a new one.

One car. Four kids under twelve out of school. Not finished Christmas shopping. Must go to work, great things are afoot. Need to buy a house. Get a mortgage. Fix car. Move out. By Jan 25th.

Taking a bath on a two-year-old house? Not as much as I thought. I'm losing the money I put in it since I moved (OK that's a lot, but like I said, a lot less than I thought I'd lose.)

THIS is going to be fun.

Car's Dead

12/15/2004

NOT frozen. It started up fine and ran just long enough for me to get the windows scraped. Then it stalled. It will not start. So, what is it? Battery? No. Distributor? No. Plugs, look good. So it's fuel. Filter, Pump or relay. Probably relay, there's no pump noise at all, and I have two, one should be making noise.

Cheap fix? Hell no. Merry christmas!!!

Looks like I already broke my promise from Monday.



Monday, Monday

12/13/2004

Hayden's basketball team scored a huge 12 points last night. No, I'm
not being sarcastic. Huge, huge improvement this year. If he can
stop trying to do everything right instead of Just Doing It©,
he'll be really good. I can't complain really, I was no good at
basketball. It was too fast for me. I couldn't pay attention to the
ball, and the guy I was supposed to be gaurding and the score, the
rules, the. . . well, everything. Plus, I was small. I just sucked.

Bought some spiced rum this weekend and let me tell you it makes the
best freakin' eggnog I've ever had. Got a bottle of the Chardonnay my
father had at Thanksgiving and a bottle of red the guy at the store
said I'd need to eat with a knife and fork. Evidently that's a good
thing when it's cold out. So all I need is a small bottle of apricot
brandy to make the breakfast eggnog out of the Mr. Boston book.
Yummy, yummy.

Put the outside lights on timers and wrapped the natural garland in
white lights on Saturday. Of course it was the nastiest day of the
year, but hey, it's tradition. It finally got cold around here and
Saturday was the day.

Saturday was also the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, for you
Sodalists it was a big day. I've got a little picture of Her on the
wall of my cube at work. href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6662217/#041210">Here's a link.
Says nothing about the importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Pro
Life movement though. That kind of suprised me. Well, maybe not.

Got loads of sleep this weekend, but it wasn't enough. I'm still on
edge, but I made a pact with myself not to type the word "cocksucker"
this whole week. And that brings up the old joke: What's the
difference between oral and anal sex? Oral sex makes your day. Anal
sex makes your whole week. Hole weak, get it? ah? ah?

Last night while I was putting Eoin to bed I told him that the reason
he farts so much was because he talked too much. Tons of air get
sucked in his perpetually open mouth and it has to go somewhere, by
golly. He was impressed. He didn't say a word for almost three whole
minutes. Then he farted. Laughed for about half an hour.

I completely forgot something today. I know I did. I really hate
that. I'll figure it out tomorrow.

Got my USAA dividend check. Party Time!

No pictures yet, posting by email.

From the "These go to eleven" files.

12/10/2004

Wednesday was the anniversiary of the day John Lennon got shot.
Someone told me that last night, that's how much I care. So given the
mood I've been in, what's my freakin' earworm today?

Pressure never stops
Pressure never drops
Lennon got fried
Said it was a crime
Said it was a pity
No one even cried

Get it? It won't go away!

I'll put the answer in the comments. Eventually.

A Nation of Wimps

12/09/2004

This article comes to some of the right and most of the wrong concluions. Most middle class parents are nowhere near their kids during the week, and a lot don't see their kids during the week-ends either. These kids have been protected all their lives by people other than their parents. Pople who would go to jail, or get sued to death if little Johnny broke his neck falling out of a tree.

As for the section of the article that talks about college kids binge drinking and acting like jerks, that's what college kids do! And if there's an increase in this behavior, it's not because these kids never had a free moment, it's because they were never taught how to decide right from wrong, because in this world, there is no right or wrong. Grade inflation doesn't come about because of irritated parents, it happens because there are lazy professors who grade that way.

As for this big steaming pile of huggy-huggy horseshit:
There are kids who are worth worrying about--kids in poverty, stresses Anderegg. "We focus so much on our own children," says Elkind, "It's time to begin caring about all children."

What the hell can I say? Take care of your own. For you blue staters, it's in the Bible you bought last month. Take a read, there's some good shit in there. You Red staters should realize that not everything in Wal-Mart has a place in your trailer. Be a freakin' parent.

Just to make things very clear, I love kids. . .wait, I mean I love my kids, I could give a shit about yours, that's your fucking job. If they're at my house, they have to do what I say, or they go back to your house. If my kid screws up at your house, let me know, I'll take care of it. Trust me.

December

12/08/2004

I like December. I do. October used to be my favorite month,
November is now, but December is moving right up there. I like it
better than June, for instance. You never know what you're going to
get with June. December, you know. Cold and wet. Sometimes not
super cold, but cold. And maybe not really wet, but it's wet all the
same. July's good too, I like July, but it goes too fast. December
used to feel like the longest month when I was a kid, but somewhere
around junior high it shortened considerably. Probably because of
mid-term exams. February is the longest month now. I keep waiting
for March. Here in Kentucky March is the beginning of Spring, and
Spring in Kentuckiana is fantastic. January is the month for cold
snaps around here. We'll get two weeks of below freezing weather
during January where everything freezes up, we might even get more
than a half-inch of snow, but it doesn't last. You get maybe two to
three days of ice skating before the lake breaks up. You know that
saying about April and showers? It's pretty fair, I think. Most of
April's showers hang into the first couple of weeks of May, Derby Day
is usually right on the tail end of the wet season. It'll rain in the
morning, then you'll get sunburn in the afternoon. I'm not a big fan
of May, can't get any mowing done and the lawn looks like a rice
paddy. August and September are terrible, hotter than hell, kids go
back to school in early August and it's still to light out to nine
o'clock so they don't sleep at all. Lawn is dead, it's dry as a
tinderbox and all of the public school kids disappear into football
hell when baseball season's not over yet. We won't see them again
until April. We'll usually have one baseball practice in April and
the rest will be rained out, so we won't see them much, but we'll see
them and they won't look like Oompa-loompa's when we do.

December has a whole lot going for it, in my book. You've started
drinking heavily over the Thanksgiving Holiday, it's cold out and
there's all sorts of parties, get-togethers, and functions going on,
not to mention year-end reviews, so why stop? Stay lit all month! I
know I will. And listen, someone's got to hang the outdoor lights,
put the indoor lights on the tree, wrap garland around everything and
make sure that our house is prettier than yours. And we will, even
though we know that you've had your house professionally decorated.
We'll beat you with stuff from our basement and my father-in-law's
garage you piker. Even with all your damn money. You know the only
reason you've got it is because you put your wife to work. That's
right, I said it! I said it! And who the fuck makes tuition due two
weeks before Christmas? What kind of sicko does that? Great! Sorry
Timmy, no train for you. Sorry Jane, no dolly. But you shore kin
spell gud! Well, I've got a Christmas bonus coming my way killjoy, a
big one! Sometime in March. You heard me! You'll be divorced by
then you dual income prick. Your wife will be shacking up with Todd
from Sales and you'll be spending your nights in the Motel 8. Asshole
kid will quit football and listening to Toby Keith and start painting
his nails and jamming to Bauhaus while huffing the freon out of the
old fridge from the garage. . .the one YOU paid for, not the one with
the ice in the door, SHE bought that one, the one you got from Sears
that first Christmas, remember? Of course you remember, you're still
paying off the fucking Discover Card. I might not be making money
hand over fist, and I can't afford lighted wreaths and window candles
on timers, I might not even be able to pay for Christmas presents this
year, but I sure as hell am to poor to pay for all the therapy my kids
would need if they grew up without at least one parent. Have a good
time on your "golf" weekends in Vegas, prick. Your wife's giving a
lap dance to every jackass in a suit who acts like he makes more money
than you. By Christmas I might be down to drinking that five year old
bottle of melon-flavored schnapps but I'll be HAPPY goddamnit. Happy.

Because December is almost my favorite month.

The King and I

The New York Times > Opinion > The King and I an op-ed by Steve Martin.

Kill some time, and cows!

12/06/2004

Kentucky Space Battles

No Comment

Just click

Just a thought. . .

You think Dylan actually did die in that motocycle accident and they replaced him with the corpse of Paul McCarteny?

Ever been overcharged

12/04/2004

Watch this if you've got the bandwidth.

I'm becoming more and more impressed. . .

12/03/2004



> Impatience grew apace, when, on the 2nd of July, they learned that a
> steamer of the line of San Francisco, from California to Shanghai,
> had. . .
>
> There's a kind of art to Spam subject lines now, I like it. I got
> this one today. I want to know what happens.
>

Dollar's way down against euro.

12/02/2004

This is good for US manufacturing, even better for mexico and china. I've got anecdotal evidence that some small manufacturers in the us are playing catch-up with capital expenditures to meet demand, their only worry is the price of raw materials. Where would Maddad get such information? It's a secret for now, but let's just say I'm keeping an eye on the aluminum market and hoping for the bottom to drop out of the housing market in south NJ. Around Marchish.
Here's the link.

Where in the world. . .

12/01/2004

Check this out. Geosense: an online world geography game.

I had two years of geography, taught by a mad Hungarian with bad psoriasis. He could also do long division on his fingers. You think I kid? Thanks to my three ring binder, my crayons and my Mercator projections (not to mention my official paper and reinforcements), I knew that Suriname was in South America, not Africa.

Having horrific flashbacks now, right brother?