Losing your heritage

Chicago’s Humboldt Park is in danger of being overrun by Yuppies, say some Puerto Ricans in today’s Chi Trib — a story, by the way, visible only among print-edition stuff and reachable only using the search window, meaning it’s gone from on-line items as such, maybe because late-arriving higher-up editors don’t like it. 

[This is wrong, web editor Charles Meyerson informs me:  “You, sir, are wrong.  . . .  The story has been played prominently on the Web site all morning -- featured as one of the lead items in the chicagotribune.com front page Business section.”  Yes, moved to business-technology half-way down the screen shot, nowhere near as visible and eye-catching or space-taking as in p-1 hard copy, where it’s 13 by 7 1/2 inches, just below the logo, with two big color photos and two more on back page front section, where it has 12 by 8 inches to roll around in.  Believe me, it’s a play to die for in what the man threw on my walk this morning, vs. what’s reachable by not only the search window, as I say incorrectly — sorry about that — but otherwise only by careful scrutiny of web page.  THAT’S NO EXCUSE: I SHOULD LOOK HARDER!

[Moreover: Meyerson is senior producer of the Trib site and asks that I

excise that whole "late-arriving editor" fantasy, or at least correct it in context.

[I can do that: A long time ago, newspapers had night editors who, while in touch with the main editors by telephone, could be countermanded by the 9–5 (or later) editors, probably in their morning meeting, dubbed a “circle jerk” by one young city desk man who later became city editor.  At these meetings, sometimes influenced by the newspaper’s owner-publisher who heard something last night at a party, stories rose and fell.  Once I was a winner here, not a loser: something I’d called in got overlooked by the night man but given nice play for home-delivery Red Flash.  Continue now with this fascinating account.]

I saw a story shrink once.  It was about black Christians celebrating wildly in church — authentic as hell, full of speaking in tongues and shaking and swaying, but my Chi Daily News editor, the late Daryle Feldmeir, was embarrassed by it.  It confirmed too well what some whites thought about blacks, he told me when I entered his office to inquire what was happening.  This was in the days of seven editions, and the Red Streak final had reduced the front section’s back page, full of John White photos, as I recall, to a column or two.  This was white liberal protection of minorities, 1970s-style.  It still happens, of course.

"It's taken 40 years for us to establish where we are today," said Enrique Salgado, who heads the local Chamber of Commerce. "Once this is gone, you lose the concentration of the Puerto Rican community in Illinois."

So what?  Does this Salgado think PR’s can’t manage cultural permanence on their own without him and other xenophobes? 

It’s gotten nasty, in fact:

Developer Anthony Zaskowski said he felt pressured to give in to community protests over a project to build condominiums near North and Artesian Avenues that would have blocked a mural featuring Pedro Albizu Campos, a hero in Puerto Rican history.

After a land swap with Zaskowski in 2004, the lot is now a small urban park.

"We were forced to settle this thing," Zaskowski said. "We lost a lot of money."

This is a picture, of course, of a community so unsure of itself it needs clout to survive.

Ald. Billy Ocasio (26th) said he is fulfilling residents' wishes "for the culture to remain alive."

Citing a ward policy that forces developers to set aside a third of their projects for affordable housing, Ocasio said, "If you take a look at what's happening, you have a plan that is able to allow people who want to stay, to stay."

Whenever you see “affordable housing,” look out.  It means low-cost housing, for one thing, and government interference in the economy, for another, with resultant screwing things up, including killing of prosperity for all concerned.

Good story by Antonio Olivo, by the way, who if he wonders what happened on-line can probably look to late-arriving editors, the 9–to-5 ones who sit in big offices.

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