Friday, November 18, 2005

Of Kittens and Minnows

Of Kittens and Minnows

... That's who roams the streets of Benton Park West at night.

Last night, a tiny little kitten followed me almost two blocks, right to my front door, in the bitter cold around 10 PM. So, I sighed, called my wife from the front porch to warn her, and we figured out a place for him to stay - for now.

This morning, I noticed some (new?) gang graffiti indicating the corner of Utah and Pennsylvania belongs to the "3200 ... Minnow" or something like that. Maybe the word Minnow means Minnesota Ave., or perhaps its some new self-deprecating nickname "Yo, I'm Minnow - I can beat up The Shark" or something equally stupid.

I'm a little concerned since, in the past, there's been a lot of tagging in nearby areas (such as on the barricades placed earlier this summer at Pennsylvania and Wyoming) by the "3200 Iowa" gang, so I wonder whether there's a turf war underway.

I live in the 3200 block of Oregon, about halfway between Iowa and Minnesota.

Talking of which, can anybody explain to me the logic of the order of "State Streets"? Going east to west, they are something like:


[interrupted by Jefferson]


[interrupted by Compton]


Several of those last few only exist in the Carondelet area; but others start as far north as Chouteau.

I know that, originally, only states that supported Missouri joining the union were on the list. Thus, no "New York Ave." (There is a Connecticut St., but it runs east-west, and was named by the Hartford, CT insurance company that developed Tower Grove Heights.) But, that still doesn't explain the order of states.

Ultimately, it makes navigating the area pretty confusing, until you figure out what streets go where, etc. I still get mixed up about Ohio and Iowa, since they're right next to each other in the grid.


Lily Bleu said...

I presume you called Citizens' Service Bureau regarding the graffiti? Also talk to Barb Potts - I have her e-mail address if you need it. Operation Brightside needs permission from the property owner to come and remove the graffiti, FYI.

Contact me if you need contact info for CSB or Barb Potts. You know my e-mail address. :)

Anonymous said...

Mississippi and Missouri (major rivers) come from the Lafayette Square neighborhood, where the other streets about the first City park are Lafayette and Park.

Though just one superblock of Lafayette Park away in the square, Mississippi and Missouri are, as you noted, more blocks apart in neighborhoods to the south of I-44.

Joe said...

Hi lily,

I do know how to reach CSB and Barb. I admit, I should be more diligent in reporting things I see. I'm just making casual observations on this blog; I do know the formal channels for reporting complaints and service requests.

Lily Bleu said...

The more diligent we are in reporting things the quicker the neighborhood can better itself.

Be a part of the solution, Joe. :)

Joe said...

I reported the graffiti on the garage at Penn and Utah to CSB and to Barb; Barb already replied (she's good, isn't she!).

In the past, I've reported lots and lots of things. Fortunately, this summer not as many calls to the police were necessary as in the past.

On a related note, when I tried to leave a message at 241-COPS, somebody actually picked up the phone and told me to call the "Gang Squad" at 444-5627. When did that change?

I thought the goal of 241-COPS was to be "anonymous and non-traceable". Not a big deal in this case, but I'm kinda confused.

Lily Bleu said...

They are having major gang problems in Benton Park West right now and apparently the graffiti was gang-related, yes? So they prolly wanted to direct you to the best resource immediately then.

Apparently there are 30-40 gangs in Roosevelt School alone right now,or that's what they reported at the neighborhood meeting last night. Blows me away. My school wasn't big enough for that many gangs.

Joe said...

I'm not that surprised there'd be that many gangs at Roosevelt. Remember the couple days worth of shootings and retaliatory shootings back in May - 1st on Arsenal by the school, later on Nebraska and Utah or so.

Roosevelt's attendance area covers almost the entire South Side. And, more to the point, it's the school of last resort: if you can't afford Catholic/private schools, can't get into magnet schools, don't know how to work the system, etc, and live on the South Side, you'll probably end up at Roosevelt.

Likewise, a lot of new immigrants go there, because they have no other options.

The best way to really improve Benton Park West (and, for that matter, the south and east parts of Tower Grove East) would be to eliminate the gang activity at Roosevelt. But, that's harder than it may seem.

progressiveSTL said...

Joe Said :
The best way to really improve Benton Park West (and, for that matter, the south and east parts of Tower Grove East) would be to eliminate the gang activity at Roosevelt. But, that's harder than it may seem.

Hi Joe,
Ok you know I'm a big fan of yours. But I'm frustrated by some of the aspects of this conversation. Don't get me wrong -- I hate crime near my family or property, and have struggled with it since I moved to the city. But at the same time, I find the classist and racial implications of this discussion alarming. As in: "young white college-educated urbanists move into the ghetto, and want to clean it up, so hey lets kick all the black teenage males age 14-18 out of Roosevelt and gentrify the Southside..." I know that's not what u mean, but that IS what some might intend.

As for Roosevelt, I did a short observation there for my education minor. In my classes, the kids were great. The teacher politics SUCKED. The security REALLY sucked -- I got told by a principle to tuck my shirt in or I'd get detention. Hmm. And from the feedback of my current neighborhood Roosevelt attendees (sometimes vandals themselves), the food really really sucks.

My point:

The best way to really improve Benton Park West (and, for that matter, the south and east parts of Tower Grove East) would be to make Roosevelt a nicer place to hang out in learn!!!!!!!!!!!

progressivestl said...

oops, that last line should say: The best way to really improve Benton Park West would be to make Roosevelt a nicer place to hang out and learn!!!!!!!!!!!

Joe said...


You're right - I should be more careful about my words.

A big part of improving the educational experience of SLPS students is getting rid of gang activity - both within the schools and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

I'm not suggesting Roosevelt should be closed. Instead, much, much better security techniques could be used. And probably there's room for improving the teaching and admin staff as well. This is true of most SLPS high schools, really.

You have way more experience actually inside the building than I do, so I'm sure you can speak to the situation better.

I don't have specific solutions - all I know is that Roosevelt seems to be a center of the problems right now. It needs to be cleaned up, so that the students who do attend there can learn.

Unfortunately, I don't know that much is happening in that regard. It seems that the political actors have dismissed the current high school students as "failures of a previous administration" -- and THAT really makes me angry!

Anonymous said...

Those state streets .. those great streets..... I just wanna say, I see things there I don't see on Broadway... You'll have the time the time of your life..etc;

Street naming patterns are curious, had you notice the east-west streets in the area are Indian Tribe names? The observation is un-researched but the older through streets in particular follow that pattern. Some state streets of course are also Indian names.

Michael Allen said...

The 3200 Minno(w) gang was pretty actove at tagging when I worked in an office at the Community Arts and Media Project building from October 2003 until February 2004. (I worked for the Gateway Green Alliance.) It's a real gang, but its tagging was pretty small-fry back then: big, sloppy and not stylized at all.