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Revitalization, My Lovely: Chapter 3
June 1, 2005: It was stuffy in the community center conference room. Though May, the heat was still pumping. Horace Stumpfler glanced around the table. As usual, the hardcore of the Hams End Neighborhood Association (HENA) had shown up for the monthly meeting. But so had a few new faces.

Stumpfler, a gone gray and wizened community activist, was HENA head. A position he'd held for decades. Though not always openly. The hardcore played musical chairs with leadership slots. Or filled them with Howdy Doodies. To keep HENA from being hijacked by outsiders-- yet still eligible for public money based on community participation. Next to Horace sat this year's vice prez, Katrine Patooty. Though not as wizened as Horace, Katrine was also a well-seasoned neighborhood activist. By now she owned a sizable slice of Hams End. As did Horace Stumpfler.

Hams End took its name from the abandoned Van Slauger pork processing facility. Around which clustered a dozen blocks of restored Victorian brownstones. Phineas Van Slauger had founded Slaugerton, after using an early form of eminent domain on the Wonkatutt Indians. Van Slauger went on to make a fortune by breeding a strain of uniquely hardy hogs. Eventually Van Slauger Pork Products employed more than half the city. But by the mid 20th century the Van Slauger family-- and their pork processing plant-- had petered out. HENA hoped to revitalize the historic facility by turning it into an arts center. Local development lovely Lara Tremor was set to address the project at the meeting. Mayor Terry McConn knew of a new HUD program and was eager to start mining: an arts center might prove just the right shovel.

"Know anything about the newbies?" whispered Katrine to Horace, eying the unfamiliar faces. Before Horace could answer Lara Tremor entered. Looking as crisp and commanding as a notice of condemnation. Her mini-me carried a brief case bulging with grant apps and back-dated loan docs. Also in tow was Sergeant Mike Testirolla. Community policing rep for Hams End. Sergeant Mike could Weed & Seed with the best of em. He'd helped flip so many HUD bucked Cop Next Door homes that he was known in local real estate circles as Sergeant Flapjack.

"Welcome" boomed Horace

"Sit right here" said Katrine, gesturing to chairs at the head of the table.

Lara Tremor was on a tight schedule. She and Mayor McConn had an appointment to meet dead political consultant Bob Slotsky at the Samaria Lounge in half an hour. Slotsky wanted to hash over how Lara and McConn had murdered him. And squeeze them for reparations. Lara was gearing for a tough negotiation. Plus Sergeant Mike had to get back to tending bar at the Peanut King Brew Barn. So after a quik gabble of government acronyms and a resolution to quash an out-of-towner who wanted to open a store in the nabe but hadn't asked HENA's permission, the floor was thrown open to Lara and Sergeant Mike.

Sergeant Mike said an arts center would mean safer streets because they'd be busy at all hours.

The hardcore did the bobble-doll.

Since there aren't any questions I'll turn this over to Lara said Sergeant Mike flopping back in his chair.

I got a question said one of the newbies. A fat lady in a flowered dress. With a couple of missing teeth.

Horace and Katrine rolled their eyes. Sergeant Mike put his listening face on his glistening face. (As said, the heat was pumping.) Lara looked at her watch.

I got the drug dealers hanging out on my steps all night I call the police all the time but they don't come.

Officer Mike said thanks for being such a good citizen we need the eyes and ears of people like you and be sure and tell the dispatcher you already called that will help and I'll make a note of it now where did you say you live? His pen hovered over his notebook. The lady said her address. Then added right next to Al-Patah's Candy Store. Oh said Sergeant Mike and put away his pen.

Moving on-- said Horace with ill concealed irritation.

But another newbie started gassing. A guy. Young professional type. Khaki shorts. Hawaiian shirt. Clacking-- I'm concerned about the multi family building next to the house I just bought. The absentee landlord rents to anyone. I mean ANYONE. My partner and I figure he stands in front of prisons and hands out Section 8 vouchers to parolees. But only to ones convicted of violent crimes. And we hear he's subdivided his units. His tenants toss syringes and condoms over the fence. The garbage is piling up on his porch. Can't he be cited for building code violations?

Out came Sergeant Mike's pen. Scribble scribble. Lucky this yuppie A-hole couldn't see Mister Bic was a dead soldier. Also lucky he didn't know that HENA head Horace Stumpfler had a piece of the investment property action at Casa Parolee.

"I'm afraid I can't stay any longer" said Lara Tremor in a voice as warm as an ice tray stuck to the floor of a freezer. The mini-me was already shoveling grant apps and back dated loan docs back into her brief case. "Perhaps a few HENA officers can meet with me later this week in my office".

After Tremor and crew left, the HENA hardcore tried recruiting Fat Lady and Upscale to pick up garbage and plant HUD buds next neighborhood clean-up day. Fat Lady couldn't make it because she had to work weekends. But Upscale was ready willing and eager. Saying he really believed in neighborhood associations and new urbanism was the wave of the future. Horace and Katrine looked at each other and began mentally measuring Upscale for a Howdy Doody suit.

To be continued...

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

"Let a fool be made serviceable according to his folly."

Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes, 1911

Episodes of Revitalization, My Lovely

Revitalization, My Lovely; Chapter One
Revitalization, My Lovely; Chapter Two
Revitalization, My Lovely; Chapter Three
Revitalization, My Lovely; Chapter Four
Revitalization, My Lovely; Chapter Five
Revitalization, My Lovely Reloaded; Chapter Six
Revitalization, My Lovely Reloaded; Chapter Seven
Revitalization, My Lovely Reloaded; Chapter Eight

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Copyright (c) 2005 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.


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