Saturday, November 12, 2005


Signing Off

After less than a year of haphazard updates, it's time to confess that my enthusiasm for writing a blog about Berwyn isn't what it should be. So, barring any strong, compelling reason to pick it up again, this'll be my last post. If the referrer logs are accurate, Berwynist had a handful of regular readers, and a couple of people did send nice notes saying nice things, which I appreciate. Thanks.

Lack of time and enthusiasm are a couple of the reasons to call it quits. Relevance, or lack thereof, is another: there's a vibrant and engaged, if occasionally contentious, crowd talking regularly and in-depth about issues of local concern on Berwyn's Community Forum, which is much more up-to-date than I could ever hope to be.

Lastly, I was mainly motivated to start this blog because I wanted to track the egregious bias that polluted the Gazette during the 2004-2005 election season. There was a period of time when Berwyn was a lesser town because the Gazette was publishing in it; anybody who wants to poke through the archives of this blog can read my reasons for thinking so. The Gazette hasn't exactly improved since the election. But its many flaws are now of the benign, small-town-paper sort, and you can't whack a rag for putting a Cub Scout pancake breakfast on its front page without being thought a bit of a churl.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 23, 2005


Money Management

Making the move from player to manager has its advantages, apparently. This excerpt from a November 2004 edition of Red Eye details Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's success in real estate:

In 1994, Guillen sold a small New East Side condo for $84,000. The following year, Guillen sold a house that he owned in near west suburban Berwyn for $190,000 and paid $436,500 for a newly built, nine-room house in southwest suburban Burr Ridge. In 2001, Guillen sold that four-bedroom, two-story Burr Ridge house for his $725,000 asking price, shortly after retiring from baseball and going into coaching. At the time, the Guillens had decided to live full time in Florida, where they had bought a 3,582-square-foot house in Miami in 2000 for $575,700, according to public records.

Let's all have a good chuckle at the notion of a New East Side condo selling for $84,000 today, shall we?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Wanna Play?

Like Halloween? Like Berwyn? Like B-grade bruisers with names like Ego and Machine beating the living crap out of one another? There's some wrestling this Saturday at the Golden Ste--I mean, the Berwyn Eagles Club for Nightmare on 26th Street.

More fun: last week, sez the Life, the city council voted to increase the number of amusement machines that bars can operate from five to seven. That includes pool tables, video poker machines, and whatnot. Mayor Michael O'Connor says the request was made by numerous bar owners in town. How many? Why?

Berwyn's senior advocate, Frank Paduch, hosted a meeting with state senator Martin Sandoval last week to address seniors' concerns. More casinos were suggested.

The Gazette has launched a two-part series promoting a Berwyn tavern. The place is allegedly haunted; a local company is allegedly investigating. It's also selling tickets to tour the allegedly haunted tavern, and it would've been nice if the article said so.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Damage Control

The Life details an agreement between Berwyn and Cicero to better police gang crime in both towns, allowing officers to pursue suspected gang members between them. Details on how much gang crime actually happens in Berwyn and Cicero is sketchy, however; there are about 25 different gangs here, according to Cicero police chief Tony Iniquez, and unnamed officers tell Johnna Kelly that there have been some "big busts" around here without giving details. But there's no information in the article about what kind of crimes are being committed, how often, and where. Doing a search on "Berwyn" and "gang" in ProQuest's news database pulls up a fair amount of articles, but most of them detail a Cicero gang member being treated at MacNeal after a shooting or other violent incident. The Berwyn GRIP site is no help; this 2002 report from the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame University suggests that it's a serious problem, and growing. But again, no hard numbers.

Let's have more anecdotes, then. Help a south Berwynite out--how bad is the gang problem? The Berwyn Police Department is concerned enough about homicides to send one of its finest downstate to learn more about investigating them, as this piece from the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier in east-central Illinois, points out:

“I’ve learned things from what I’ve missed. You are simply trying to put the pieces together. This is not about science. It is about using science. No chemist or biologist is going to come in alone and solve these crimes. You have to have minds working together. There are no egos in this work,” said Englert, who was one of the top presenters at the seminar along with Dayle Hinman of Court TV.

“This kind of training is invaluable to law enforcement,” said Don Garrity, a law officer from Berwyn.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Not-so-famous Names

The Associated Press tackles the question of why no celebrities have appeared at U.S. Cellular Field during White Sox playoff games. Scott Reifert, Sox communications director, has an idea:

"I would argue our celebrities is Joe from Berwyn and Hank from Cicero and the family that came in from Orland Park that might be sitting in section 120, and they are as much a celebrity as anybody else."

The Salt Lake City Deseret News has a fine piece on the complex, often bewildering state of enforcement of immigration laws. The focus is on Miguel Garcia, a suburban painter living in the SLC burbs who was deported after agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (what was once the INS, in a post-9/11 reshuffling) discovered Garcia was arrested in Berwyn on assault. The piece follows Garcia's story from arrest through deportation, while describing the new stress that immigration agents are under:

ICE agents say they find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They're damned if they run a seemingly hard-working, peaceful person like Garcia out of the country and they're damned if they don't pursue someone who turns out to be a terrorist.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark has a nice feature on Milt Bocek, a Cicero native who played briefly for the White Sox in 1933 and 1934. (Stats geeks go here.) In later years he went into the family business, the Physicians' Record Company in Berwyn.

From the Life:

Berwyn police are cracking down on establishments selling liquor to minors.

The city is also cracking down on people who don't pay their water bill, shutting off service to those who have delinquent bills larger than $500. The story doesn't say how many residents this affects.

The World's Greatest Laundromat is set to reopen next month after a fire destroyed it in August.

From the Gazette:

Dan Lipinski sure puts out a lot of press releases.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Couldn't Escape If I Wanted To

Hate the NHL? You could always throw your support behind the semipro squads of the American Hockey League, home to the Chicago Wolves and some of the best team names in sports I've ever seen. (Go Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights! You rock, Lowell Lock Monsters!). Or there's the United States Hockey League, an amateur league which seems to jumble up cities and mascots randomly. (Des Moines Buccaneers? Green Bay Gamblers?) But if you're willing to throw you're support behind the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks, you're backing a local: Defenseman Joe Sova hails from Berwyn. They play more than a few games against the Chicago Steel this season, starting in December. (More confusion: The Steel plays in Bensenville.)

AztecAmerica, a bank headquartered on Oak Park Avenue just north of Cermak (next to Leslie Furniture, purveyors of some of the fugliest bedroom sets in creation), is open for business after receiving $12 million in financing last month. AztecAmerica claims to be the "first and only Hispanic-owned bank in Illinois."

The bank's president and CEO, Carlos Montoya, told the Sun-Times back in May that there's good reason to design a bank specifically for a Latino immigrant clientele:

Montoya said some Hispanics are averse to banks because of bad experiences in their homelands.

"You get things like irregular application of banking applications, wild currency fluctuations, and lack of liquidity," Montoya said. He suspects that's why immigrants are willing to pay high fees for check cashing and wire transfer services.

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