South Shore, Most Violent Neighborhoods

The Seventh Most Violent Neighborhood in Chicago is my father’s old neighborhood, South Shore. All of these are tough to watch because but this is the one neighborhood I have memories of. My grandparents lived here up till the 70’s and we’d visit often. Their apartment was near Rainbow Beach.

By the way, Barak and Michelle Obama held their wedding reception at the South Shore Country Club.

Chicago: 10th Most Violent Neighborhood

My brother just told me about this series of short documentaries looking at the tragedy of violence in parts of Chicago. Each focuses on one of the 10 Most Violent Neighborhoods in the Second City. Back of the Yards is number 10.

I agree with the reporter than if you don’t understand the problem, you can’t solve it.

More from Dressing Downton

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Tearoom at the Driehaus Museum

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Care to guess who wore which of these at Rose’s presentation?

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Just like Violet always wears violet, for Rose they liked to                                                                put her in rose or include a rose in her clothes or jewelry

Kings of Pastry

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The epitome of achievement in the world of French pastry is the M.O.F., a pastry chef who’s merited the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France). The documentary The Kings of Pastry takes viewers into the world of the intense competition. MOF chefs receive a red, white and blue collar and a medal from the president of France.

The film follows Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School, as he vies for the supreme honor. We see Pfeiffer and two other chefs preparing and competing. They must create a wedding cake, sugar sculpture, buffet of pastries under strict rules in three days.

The film is engrossing as it goes deeper than the average TV cooking competition and really examines the passion and craftsmanship of the pastry world. It did make me crave some delectable, sophisticated treats so you’ve been warned.

The Chicago 8

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The Chicago 8 dramatizes the infamous trial of Bobby Seale, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Lee Weiner, Rennie Davis and John Froines, who were accused of violating anti-riot laws and conspiracy in connection with the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The film shows Judge Julius Hoffman’s bias and the defendant’s defiance as is reported in the court transcripts. It’s a film of a chapter of American history of great import as it shows how derailed our justice system can get.

In an article about a play on the trial that the Remains Theater was doing in 1997, the event was summarized as follows:

It went down something like this.

By the summer of 1968, Chicago had been rocked by wide-scale rioting on the city’s West Side after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mayor Richard J. Daley had issued his infamous “Shoot to kill” arsonists order during that time and he publicly vowed that when the national convention of his beloved Democratic party came to Chicago in August, “outside agitators” would not be allowed to disrupt his city again.

Sen. Robert Kennedy was murdered several weeks before the convention, anti-war protests had continued unabated even though incumbent President Lyndon Johnson had announced he would not seek re-election and his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, marched toward the Democratic convention as his likely successor.

When the convention convened in a heavily guarded International Amphitheater on the Southwest Side, thousands of young demonstrators gathered in Lincoln and Grant Parks, engaging in five nights of violent clashes with Chicago police.

Early in 1969, after months of finger-pointing and blame, eight of those demonstrators, representing a cross-section of the anti-war movement in the country, were charged with conspiring to come to Chicago to stage riots and with rioting. It was the first major use of a new federal anti-conspiracy law that was decried as an unconstitutional violation of Freedom of Speech.

By September 1969, the stage was set for a replay of the Democratic convention, this time in an austere courtroom on the 23rd floor of the Dirksen Federal Building at 219 N. Dearborn St. and presided over by crusty Federal Judge Julius J. Hoffman. (Davis, 1997)

The film captures the feeling of the five month long trial, though it leaves out parts that would have been good like “folk singer Judy Collins having her mouth covered by the hands of a federal marshal as she tried to sing, “Where have all the flowers gone?” in an impromptu concert during her testimony . . . .and Beat poet Allen Ginsberg chanting a mantra-“ommmm, ommmm”-while on the witness stand in a humorous attempt to restore tranquility when the court broke out in one of its frequent bursts of shouting” (Davis, 1997).

We forget how fragile our justice system is and how one judge can contort it to his own ends.  The movie starts a little slow and includes some footage of an orgie that just doesn’t belong as there’s no follow up, but the second and third act are more tightly put together and the historical event should be understood by all.

References

Davis, R. (1991, Sep 15). Return of the Chicago 7: the trial was great theater, but will it work on stage? Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from search.proquest.com on April 22, 2013

N.B. Since Bobbie Seale was removed from this trial, in a very racist manner, some call it the Chicago 7 and others the Chicago 8.

CBS Evening News

After a top notch look at the hospitals caring for the shooting victims in Chicago, CBS Evening News interviewed Rahm Emanuel about the increased murder rate this summer. I found the piece disappointing. Since I live near Chicago, I know the statistics and the stories, such as seven year old Heaven Sutton’s murder. She was caught in the crossfire while she was selling snow cones and candy on the street with her grandma.

One shortcoming of the interview was its brevity. It seemed to last 2 minutes so by the time the problem was identified and Emanuel clarified Scott Pelley‘s depiction to his own liking as politicians do, there was little time to discuss how to address this problem. The other big problem was that Pelley just played softball with the mayor, whose chief of police is cutting the budget so that while in the past, when the murder rate went down, Chicago had 5 detective units, it now has 3. Also while after a shooting police strike force would move in, now they don’t.

Emanuel didn’t say much specific. He defended his new chief in spite of the poor results. He also went on a tangent about how it’s all about values and called for gang bangers to step away from children so that they don’t get hurt. His call seems unrealistic. Why would you assume a criminal is going to make it easier for someone shooting him to get shot? It’s incredibly naïve to appeal to a sense of valor. While the problem, like all crime, is a matter of morality, Emanuel had no plan on how to inculcate values. Pelley didn’t bother to question him on that. Pure softball.

Perhaps it’s not a national issue so Pelley went easy on Emanuel. Yet if it’s not a national story it doesn’t belong on CBS Evening News.  I wish Pelley would watch the BBC’s Hard Talk to sharpen his interviewing skills.

Marin conducting a different interview

Later Chicago Tonight did a splendid job on the same issue. Elizabeth Bracken recapped the issue and Carol Marin interviewed two aldermen, who’ve come forward questioning the new police strategy. Marin asked all the right questions and the interview never felt like a T-ball game. Pelley can attain this level and should.

Boss

If The West Wing offers the kind of politics, I dream of, Boss shows the kind of politics I fear we have, i.e. Tales from the Dark Side of Power, Greed and Lust. 

On my flight from Beijing I discovered Kelsey Grammer’s Boss, a high testosterone drama about a fictitious Chicago mayor trying to control city and Illinois politics while hiding his degenerative neurological disorder. Longtime mayor Tom Kane (Grammer) combines Richard Daley and King Lear. Kane’s wife Meredith is a cold-blooded daughter of the former mayor. His daughter has a character that I couldn’t buy. She appears to be a Presbyterian minister who runs a free medical clinic, uses heroine and has sex with her drug dealer. Her theology is quite severe and Biblically literal, yet she only lives out an isolated form of social justice. She seems to have no friends and the mentality of a schizophrenic. I found her character a set up for audience stimulation with little believability, though the actress is compelling.

His staff consists of a taciiturn chief of staff, who has thugs on speed dial and a blonde bombshell with a highly calibrated libido so she can up the show’s heat.

More intriguing characters are a reporter who’s sniffing around sensing that something’s wrong with the mayor’s health while also investigating corruption and wrong doing emanating from the mayor’s office. The Illinois governor and his up and coming challenger illustrate how the mayor is the most influential politician in the state.

I watched four episodes so I was pulled in despite my the female characters. I pretty much figure that the writers are going to fall short of Shakespeare in their ability to write about both genders.