Visiting My Old Neighborhood

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I found myself out to my sister’s house this week doing some additions and remodeling on a 127 year old house. Nothing big, but big for my 69 year old dad and me. First on that list was replacing the original 67 foot wide covered porch which recently had a tree crash through it, destroying 80% of it. They all did demo last week, then we built it this week. It will be roofed next week when the entire house gets a shiny new metal roof. This house is proof that you can polish a turd to shine like gold.

Anyway, while out at her house I decided to drop in on an old friend from high school. He still lives in his mother’s house in our old neighborhood we grew up in. We had the first two houses built in this development in 1973, we watched the whole neighborhood being built. I haven’t been to his house since going to his mother’s funeral in 2000. As I will explain, much has changed in the old neighborhood in the last 15 years. I also wanted to see the house I grew up in which was three houses down. My parents moved out in 2000 as well, so I really had little reason to go back. As I found out, going after dark was a rather large mistake on my part, the neighborhood has been through some very disturbing changes. Let’s just start with my old family house, which is nothing more than a foundation, debris, and trash. Seems it burnt to the ground about three weeks ago after the meth lab blew up that was in the garage. I called my parents, who are still in disbelief, who drove out today during daylight hours to look at it. When I finally made it to my friends house it was like visiting one of the wards in downtown Houston. There were iron bars on all the windows, the garage doors, and all the doors had heavy duty iron security gates in place. I’m guessing at this time the old neighborhood is not super safe any longer.

I had it explained to me that the last several years there have been really negative changes. The older people were moving out and there houses were turned into rent houses. I’m not saying that created the problem but it did accelerate the problem. Out of 156 homes in the neighborhood, only 4 of them are owned or have a mortgage, my friend owning the one he lives in. I won’t get all stereotypical on y’all since you’re already doing it in your minds for me. And I’m not being racist, there seems to be equal shares of everyone, in fact the clowns that burnt our house to the ground were white, well white trash. It’s a shame to see a neighborhood go this direction in any regards, but we all know it does happen everywhere, even out in little hick towns in southeast Texas. Blaming someone or something is pointless since it is pure economics. Unfortunately in big cities and little towns the low rent houses tend bring in a culture of people that others tend to move away from, that’s if they can, many can’t and they are just consumed by the negative changes happening around them. I’m no sociologist, but I know that the money in your pocket usually determines your living conditions. I am going to end my opinion right there.

I recall hearing on the news a few weeks ago about a meth house burning down in my old little town but missed where it was exactly and dismissed altogether since news in the Houston area every day is full of the same shit, shootings, arson, safe houses, trafficking, car chases, robberies, and so forth. But damn, meth heads blew up our old house. Needless to say, I didn’t visit with my friend very long because I didn’t want to be there to late. I did ask about his heightened security and he told me after two break ins where they stole things easily pawned that he had two choices, stay and fight or move away, he says there are no plans to move.

In the end, its very disappointing to see these now 40 year old houses laying waste in decay, abandoned, burnt out, and boarded up. I’m not trying to be dramatic about it, I know things change, but that shouldn’t mean it all has to go straight to hell. Or does it? Again, yes I know, it comes down to money and economics, plus the right conditions be set in motion, and so forth. If I may be a little nostalgic, I remember the days before the internet and xboxs, riding my bike everywhere with my friends, and seeing the street lights coming on meant get your ass home. As kids we lived outside, we liked the outside, we cherished our time outside, and I can’t recall never being struck with the dilemma of having nothing to do. It was a simpler time back then, a time we never get to go back to, and now all I have are the fond memories of growing up in a great house in a great neighborhood, all of this, of course, before the meth heads blew it all to fuck and back. Okay, I’m done sharing, get back to your lives.

Looking Away To See Clearly

This is what our society has been reduced to or at least its been my observations in the last four months or so. I have had the opportunity to see things that I normally wouldn’t pay attention to. We overlook so much in our daily lives, things that are right in our face, and we just don’t pay attention. Some would say its because we are too close to it therefore becoming very ignorant to our surroundings. Maybe its complacency, maybe it is lack of pride, or maybe its just because ignorance is the “acceptable” way of doing things. We could debate reasons until the end of time but the fact will remain the same, our lack of attention to detail has had a severe negative impact on our every day lives. We are raised to accept a lesser quality, a lesser quantity, and to give a “pass” to those things or people who do it in a substandard fashion. Why? Why in the fuck do we expect to get low quality or quantity and accept it as par for the course? Why in the fuck is is next to impossible to get those around us to accept responsibility for their words or actions? How in the fuck does anything get done in a timely manner? Its simple, it doesn’t, and most of us just roll with the punches. Don’t you just get sick of the shit? Will our glass ever runneth over with all the bullshit? Shouldn’t we be ready to stop being cheated in regards to everything?

We know its impossible to negotiate with morons and we know there is duplicity in wanting something different. Can we be this out of touch with the people around us? Why fucking keep turning a blind eye? I watched an amazing transformation over the past several months, something I have never seen on a day to day basis before, I watched an empty lot evolve into a living, breathing restaurant. Now, I have a very vivid imagination, but I couldn’t ever theoretically imagine the struggles I witnessed. Hell, just take the weather, shitty weather really holds up construction, the delays roll out like dominos, and cascade in a way that if a person keen on logistics had not been in charge, I wouldn’t be looking at a restaurant that will be serving food and drinks in two days. In many ways it was like watching the ringmaster of a large production circus who had his fair share of goofy fucktard clowns to deal with each and every day. I had to wonder, more than once mind you, how some of these contractors got out of bed in the morning much less contribute to the construction of this building. I’m being 1000% serious, all kidding aside, I was left with my mouth wide open wondering how a handful were able to tie their shoes or wipe their own asses allot of the times. They were all paid for excellence but more often than not only brought half a bucket of bullshit to the jobs at hand.

Fear not tho, because of the powers of a few, this building will soon be seating the masses, all ignorant of what it took to get it completed. As well they should be, they should be oblivious to the course of actions it took just so they could drink beer and consume wings until they are fat and happy. We, as people in our society, don’t want to know how hard it was to get here, they just want to know when the waitress is swinging back through. Luckily, its in a great location, it lay on the line that separates the rednecks who can’t afford a clue to the rich and wannabe rich who can’t wait to have a new place to sit and to bitch about the things us poorer folks, myself included, aren’t doing up to their personal standards. But do the rich and snotty visit sport’s bars? The the poor bastards up the road have the extra money to pay double or even triple the prices of their favorite hole in the wall bar closer to home? In my opinion, this would have been a good place for a topless bar and grill, fuck the sports part, serve drinks and wings topless, trust me, its a combination that works, beer, boobs, and wings. Maybe I should keep this idea to myself, maybe I need to look into a location for myself. I know the strip bar business and the business end of the bar, I’m just saying. I have lived here for many years and have yet to see an adult entertainment bar anywhere near here. Again, its the perfect market with zero competition. Just food for thought, that’s all. For now, the good people of our fair city get yet another sports bar and grill.

Did I ever mention that for a dedicated people watcher like myself that this has been an interesting project? Let’s leave it at the fact that there was rarely a dull moment. In many ways I felt like nobody could top the people the day before, but, each day u was proven dead fucking wrong. I learned very fast to just buckle up, shut my mouth, so I could better watch and learn. So I did, and I did learn, and yes it all moved at the speed of blur for me. Yet, this new restaurant is but the tip of the spear? Why? Because dammit, were restaurant builders!

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Homeowner’s Association Form Letter

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So, yesterday I walked the close to 1/4 mile trek out to collect my mail from the mailbox located out at the end of my driveway. Normally I would take the golf cart but I was feeling froggy and just decided to walk. I don’t usually “sort” my mail out here in the street but there was allot of crap that I was going to put in the recycle bin since it had not been collected yet. As I am flipping through it all I see a letter addressed to “Resident” with my address printed below it. It is a letter from our beloved homeowner’s association. Might be important so I went ahead and opened it. After reading it through the first time I was left asking “what the fuck?” and need to read it again before I got pissed all the way. After A quick review I can see that they are talking of my location, it has the correct block, lot, plot, and section. The address on the envelope belongs to me, so it must be my property being spoke of. The jist of the form letter is to inform me (property owner) that a complaint has been filed suggesting I am burning “trash” items too close to the street which is too close to neighboring houses. The date sited was 22 days ago. Too close to my neighbors? My nearest neighbor’s house is over 650 yards away. The letter continues to outline the “offense” by stating that I was burning tires and other accelerant fuels. Wait just a damn minute here. First I don’t burn anywhere except the rear of my almost ten acres of property. Second, I don’t burn tires or use gas or diesel to set such fires. The letter has me at a loss.

As I am walking back to the house to go make a phone call because they have assessed a $350.00 fine for the incident, I notice, which makes me remember, I did have a fire in my front yard about three weeks ago. The scorch marks are still visible as I walk by. I wonder if this could be what they are referring to in the letter. I haven’t written about this yet here so y’all are probably scratching your heads wondering what has happened. I guess this is a good place to put in what happened and the I will figure out why there was a complaint. In a way I guess an outsider could say it was a trash fire in my front yard but if a person was paying attention they would of seen it was my riding lawn mower that had actually burst into flames. Man, I loved that old mower too, I was sad to see it go out in a blaze of glory like it did. What happened? I was mowing in the yard in front of my house pretty close to my driveway when a giant puff of black smoke blew out of the front of the engine cowel. I jumped off and flipped it open and when I did it burst into open flames. I was able to dowse the flames with the garden hose but it was too late. As I stood there watching it smolder a bit I secretly was hearing TAPS being played off in the distance. It was almost a tearful moment for me, but I held it back. It truly was a spectacular show but at the same time I didn’t like seeing my old friend roast its own marshmallows.

In review of the complaints in the letter I can see why they would say I was burning tires and using an accelerant because the tires did catch fire and the fuel line did melt and feed the fire. But hold on, this means that my incident was visible to someone somewhere. So I stood in the spot and looked around 360 degrees to see if I could figure out who the bastard was that assumed I was burning trash in my front yard. Well, there is only one house in my view and that is straight across the street. That old bastard has the eyes of a hawk then because its a good 200 yards from the street in front of his house. And it only burned for 10-12 minutes anyways. I’m so confused. Anyway, I will deal with him later, I have bigger fish to fry. I went in the house and called the secretary of the homeowner’s association to discuss the complaint and the fine I was not ever going to pay. I invited him out to check out the burned out carcas and I was declined a visit. I was told to go to their website and print out a form which I could use to defend myself. Once filled out I am to mail it to them with supporting information and/or pictures if available to justify my case. I was also reminded to enclose a check or money order with my form so I could pay the fine. Ummm, fuck you, there will be no check or money order enclosed you goofy bastards. I filled out the form and enclosed some nice glossy pictures with my explanation of what occurred. When I was done I sent my son down to throw it in the mail box for pick up today. This is why I detest having neighbors.

This whole thing has served as a good reminder. Since my other rider (the back up) isn’t in that great of shape and isn’t exactly dependable, I think I will get dressed and go mower shopping. I wonder what I will come home with. Have y’all seen the commercials for all the different riding mowers lately? Maybe they have been the “sign” I have been looking for and just haven’t realized it. I better make sure the trash fire I have going currently is out before I go because I would hate for some snooper to say I left it unattended. If I get a new toy I will be sure to show y’all so don’t worry.

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The Extreme Mistaken Identity

brokeI spend a fair share of time buying and selling miscellaneous things on Craigslist and on eBay. Much of the stuff I hunt for is what I call local meaning I can get there within 3 hours or so. I have buying and selling like this for years and tend to travel a bit to pick different items up. Rarely, if ever, do I have problems with anybody because the people I buy and sell with are doing the same thing I’m doing which is buying stuff to fix/repair and then resell more often than not. I try not to get myself into deals that are too far away because then that just becomes more expensive in the end.

This trip would lead me to Lake Charles Louisiana to pickup a 40s Ford pickup (pictured below, picture provided from Craigslist ad) which I thought would be a good truck to finish off my 4×4 bastardization truck using my restored 70s Bronco chassis (pictured at bottom). Anyway, I had spoken with an older gentleman (spoke with a heavy Cajun accent) twice about the truck and a price of $1100.00 cash was agreed on by both of us. He told me that his nephew would contact me with the address and a good time to meet. Yesterday, Thursday, ended up being the day. I pushed for Saturday or Sunday but the nephew was hell-bent it had to be when he said. So be it, right.

The trip from my house to Lake Charles is about 2 hours so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad of a trip during the week to make. I loaded up my truck and trailer and set off to Louisiana. I wasn’t familiar with the address I was given but I did know the area of town I was going. When I arrived at my destination (as said to be correct by my GPS and the GPS in my cellphone) I was presented with the house (pictured above). Thinking there was a mistake I reset my GPS. Apparently I was at the address I was given. Thinking there was a mistake I took a picture of it and sent it to my wife to let her know I was sent on a wild goose chase. She wasn’t happy with me to say the least and explained to me I needed to figure out what in the hell was going on.

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After 20 or so attempts I was able to get ahold of the nephew who explained to me that I sounded like a white cop on the phone. He further explained that they didn’t do business with white cops. I was given the address to the abandoned house so I could be checked out by friends of his. When I asked if there was a problem with me being white he told me no as long as I had the cash and wasn’t a white cop. He told me he was sending his friends over to the house to check me out in person and if I checked out then they would escort me to his uncle’s house to pick up the truck. He informed me two of his friends would be there shortly and I was to give them the cash. Once they had the cash I would get a call that it was okay to follow his friends. I was warned I better be legit because this was the wrong place to be a white cop.

Once I hung up with him I decided to just leave. In my head I ran down the scenario and it ends up with me being robbed and killed, leaving me to rot in the abandon house. Even though I did have my twins (Desert Eagle .50AE x2) accompanying me on this little excursion I was not prepared to be in an ambush gunfight with an unknown number of people. I headed out shortly before sunset to return home. I will never know who showed up for the meet and greet last night. Tell you the truth I really don’t care. I haven’t heard from the man with the heavy Cajun accent or the nephew and I don’t suspect I will either. Sad, if you ask me, that this all played out the way it did. Perhaps my wife was right, the deal just was just too good to be true. Apparently so.

I have had some time to analyze this whole thing. Since I was troubled with heavy concern that allot of assumptions were made, inaccurately I might add, about me. Okay, they assumed one thing that was right, I am white. I won’t do them the same disservice by assuming I know what race my new friends are because I never met any of them in person. Accents, slang, and how someone talks are not tell signs of one’s race. Being I was bothered still by the events, I contacted the local sheriff’s department for that parish in Lake Charles where I was given a very hardy “yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll look into it when we get an officer freed up”. Who cares, right? No harm no foul, right? Sure, I guess so.

Now that this bullshit is over all I can think is how sweet that old beast would have looked when I go done with her. So, my hunt will continue and sooner or later I will get the body I was always looking for. I think what pisses me off the most is that I never would have guessed that junk sellers would be scamming people or trying to roll people for that cash. Makes re-think how I will do business in the future for sure. What a stupid reason to get killed. But, my optimist side has thought that perhaps I drove away from a fantastic deal and there was nothing to be worried about. My realist side says I made the right choice.

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