Friday, February 1, 2008

Herald's Chicken: Tree Removal Irks Rainey Ave Homeowners

posted by Peter Rossi

Residents of Rainey Avenue are up in arms over removal of trees on the Illinois Central-owned embankment visible from their backyards.

"Not In My BackYard, they don't" declared Robin Krank of 5720 S. Rainey Ave. Ms. Krank admitted that the work was not actually done in her backyard but that of her neighbor across the street, Doris White-Nimby.

Ms. Krank maintains that falling debris from the tree removal threatens the ramshackle frame houses on the block. "One small branch could easily knock over my house," she said, noting that strict adherence to Preservation Guidelines means that few on the block repair the exterior of their homes.

Other residents chimed in that the large trees removed by IC crews shielded their view of the tracks. "For the past forty years, I was unaware that trains used the embankment. Now passengers on the train can spy on me and report to the House Committee on Un-American Activities," a concerned resident was heard to say.

Block spokesman, Leon T. Lame, accused the IC of using "clear-cut" tactics. "We know the ways of these evil corporations. They would just as soon slash and burn-out our whole block. We will stand together on this."

Mr. Lame contends that many are afraid to identify themselves to the press for fear of IC reprisals. "IC conductors will toss pea gravel down on us if we dare to speak out."

Nervous Nimby, a block resident for more than 50 years, claims that the railroad hoodwinked homeowners. "They sent a letter stating that 'only minor trimming will be done'." When asked by a Herald reporter to produce the notice, Mr. Nimby pointed at an envelope on his fireplace mantel. Further investigation revealed that this envelope contained a past-due gas bill.

Others cited the tree removal as environmentally dangerous. "In these days of global warming, we should keep our green canopy of trees," screamed a resident, backing an Expedition out of her driveway.

Still others questioned the methods of IC crews. "Instead of using chainsaws, the IC should use a natural means of removing trees. A few beavers could be relocated from Jackson Park."

Longtime resident, Hans Christian Forester, lamented the tree removal. "These were great trees," he said, likening the trees to California coastal redwoods. "These fools are replacing our beautiful trees with an invasive species -- highway grass."

When informed that the trees removed were an invasive species known as the Tree of Heaven or Ailanthus, Mr. Forester barked at this reporter, "are you on the IC payroll now, you stooge?"

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Forestry Conference convened a fact-finding meeting on the IC tracks. Before the meeting was broken up by the 5:10 to Flossmoor, residents counted two pigeons, four crows, and two rabid squirrels made homeless by the needless clear-cut. The HP-KFC will consider proposals to raise funds to provide shelter for these displaced animals.

IC forester, Smokeless Da Bear, took exception to the complaints of residents. "These people are never satisfied. Let these cranks buy their own trees. I can't decide whether to use Agent Orange or napalm next year. "

When questioned about claims that highway grass is an invasive species, Mr. Bear stated "what are you talking about? This is grass that grows near highways. Apparently, Mr. Forester hasn't read much about invasive species, which are often found in highway corridors but are not called highway grass."
This post was inspired by "Metra riles Harper Ave with clearcutting move" in the 1/30/08 edition of the HPH.


IHeartLenoxLohr said...

I'm new to your blog (though I've been in Woodlawn for 9 years) and am loving it. This little ditty is durn funny. I frequently park on Rainey Ave to take the Metra downtown, and the decrepit state of some of those homes blows me away. If HPers are so hell-bent on preservation, why don't they enforce maintenance?

Rosemary said...

That pretty much sums it up, Peter.

Famac said...

There is so much more to complain about on Harper than those trees. I used to live there.

Right along the east side of the street is a guy who has a huge junk collection taking up every square foot of his property.

When I lived on Harper I was always aggravated by his ever-expanding landfill.

I know someone who moved from Harper to find "people that cared about their property."

So there you have it: beat up on Metra for tree trimming, but let the Crazy Man with 1MM cats destroy the street.

Otto said...

Burgher vs. Burgher, then?

Elizabeth Fama said...

It came to my attention today that newer readers or non-Hyde-Parkers may not realize that the Herald's Chicken feature spoofs recent Hyde Park Herald articles.

Peter Rossi said...

Is it possible to read a post with names like

robin krank
doris white-nimby
hans christian forester
smokeless da dear

and this this is not a joke?

OK, I see that I will have to be more obvious.

I will have to be more obvious (otto this is another test, which films are these used in?)

Egbert Souse (accent grave over e)
Otis Scribbleotis
Mahatma Kane Jeeves
Charles Bogle
Larsen E. Whipsnade
Mortimer Snerd

Famac said...

This is Ground Control to Major Tom....

Elizabeth Fama said...

It's clear it's a joke, it just may not be clear that it's spoofing a very particular thing. As a joke it could seem like it's targeted at your neighbors. As a spoof of a specific "news" story, it's a more lighthearted raspberry at the Herald.

Otto said...

otto this is another test


Peter Rossi said...

"news" is right!

Richard Gill said...

Strangely, the actual Herald article that inspired "Tree Removal Irks Rainey Ave. Homeowners," came across as reasonably balanced. Probably, this is because the Herald didn't realize how silly the homeowners' complaints sound. Peter Rossi sure realized it.

And consider the Herald's headline, "Metra riles Harper Ave. with clearcutting move." When the Hyde Park Establishment gripes, leave it to the Herald to side with the gripers and crank up the volume.

Peter Rossi said...

I don't agree with Richard onthe article. Yes, the Herald reporter did try to get the other point of view (but put it at the end of the article).

There are many instances of editorializing in the story and headline. How can you use the term "clear-cutting?" for esxample?

The entire business about "highway grass" as a invasive species. The reporter didn't even bother to google "highway grass." What kind of reporter is this who accepts, unchallenged, the word of anyone?

Richard Gill said...

Peter -

I should have said "reasonably balanced, given that it's the Herald." They may have loaded the gripe-stuff at the front end, but they did give space to the reasonable and explanatory responses of Metra and the Alderman's office. What bothered me most was that the Herald took "a nothing" and turned it into "a something", but that's par for their course.

The headline is next on my list of criticisms of the article--it made it sound like everyone on the street had risen up in rebellion, when basically they heard from one person who hid behind a cloak of anonymity. Oh well, more fodder for Hyde Park Progress's mill.

chicago pop said...

Speaking of hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, I'm going to momentarily peek out from beneath my cloak and make it clear that for those who care enough, it is entirely possible to legally determine my true identity. chicago pop is my blogger handle. But ask me on the street if I'm chicago pop, and I'd tell you. That might be the end of the conversation, but I'd tell you.

Elizabeth Fama said...

C-Pop, Is it an invisibility cloak? Huh? Is it? Cuz I'd really like to see one of those.

I'd just like to say to anyone who doesn't like Chicago Pop's anonymity that, as George Bailey once said, "You...You're thinkin' of this place all wrong." This is not newspaper journalism, this is a blog. Even people who supposedly identify themselves on the Internet are not always who they say they are. People have a right to a little privacy if they want it...if they can manage it. Besides, any ol' body can reach Chicago Pop at his gmail address, and a real, live, quite kind (if somewhat acid-witted) human being will respond.

Richard Gill said...

Elizabeth is right - this is a blog, not newspaper journalism. A blog is essentially a conversation, and participants can use pseudonyms if they so wish.

A newspaper, however, is expected to use quotes in stories as part of objective news. Anonymity there is normally granted only in very limited circumstances, such as fear of severe reprisal. The papers usually say something about the reason, such as, "...said a source who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations."

That being said, what did the person quoted in the Herald's "clear cutting" article have to fear by giving their name? Pea gravel (whatever that is), as suggested in Peter Rossi's satirical post? The head of a dead horse in bed? A flood of building inspectors at a termite-infested house? Invalidation of a Metra ten-ride ticket to Blue Island?

And the Herald did nothing for its own credibility when it allowed the nameless person to get away with it in such an inane story. The Herald at least should have written, "...said a homeowner who wished to remain anonymous for fear of appearing stupid."

One might be forgiven for thinking, "It's the Hyde Park Herald, not newspaper journalism."

Elizabeth Fama said...

Richard, I like C-Pop's idea that the anonymous Harper Ave. resident feared being featured as the next NIMBY in Hyde Park Progress's running series NIMBY'S CORNER.

Of course, she still suffered that fate, but mercifully anonymously.