Monday, March 30, 2009

Google Your Mom...Redux

One of the first essays I ever posted on Active Rain back in 2006 was a piece entitled 'Google Your Mom.' At the time I thought it was a clever notion; write a cute, loving piece about my mother (born in the 1920s) and atomically collide her with a present day algorithm for a quick, ironic grin--a Google giggle, as it were. After all, (in blog years, that is), 2006 was a couple Morse Law generations ago and I was but a virtual piker in the constantly expanding Real Estate blogosphere.

I entered the same title into the Google Search Box a few moments ago (just to make sure the idea still had some digital legs, if not originality) and alas, there are now 42,100,000+ entries with the same keyword sequence, Google...Mom. It seems like everyone is writing about what their moms are doing on that 256K floppy up in the third bedroom these days. Still, at least through these biased eyes, my own fore bearer remains an unknowing pioneer of technological ingenuity as it applies to her...ahem, demographic. And while Mitzi Petro may not possess the same genetic motherboard as the matronaly likes of a Mrs. Jobs, Gates, or Wozniak, she is still very special in her own Post-it Note sort of way. Here is the most recent case in point:

Click here to read the rest of the story on 'Active Rain'

Geno Petro

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pole Position

At first glance, this photograph taken on my iPhone near the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Pulaski is, well....nondescript. Take a closer look and you'll realize that the red-lettered object in the foreground is a utility truck of a company specializing in, among other things, poles. In the background you'll notice a semi-obstructed marquee advertising The Admiral Theatre. Since 1984 it's been every Northwest Chicago 'gentleman's' idea of the Moulin Rouge, if you know what I'm saying. Anyway, No, I was not looking for a parking space. I was just stalled in rush hour traffic trying to serpentine back home to Forest Glen while simultaneously text arguing First Amendment Freedom of Speech and Press rights with a Chicago City worker over something I posted on Facebook. I finally surrendered on all accounts, pulled over, deleted the Facebook post, and snapped this funny shot instead. And my point? Hard to believe anyone (sans clothes to boot) can wear out a dance pole---even over a 25 year period. Or for that matter, sway a proud man's allegiance when he has a dog in the fight.

Geno Petro

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Toxic Schlock

It boggles the bean. It seems like only months ago that the home loan lender we knew with collateralized affection as WaMu (along with the likes of its gentle, soft money giant and rival, Countrywide) was leasing commercial space like mad men in Chicago real estate land. Only ubiquitous Team Starbuck's seemed to finish in quicker triple net time when it came to securing a North Side Chicago storefront and setting up shop overnight. But on these thin and crispy days, the home loan parking lots are empty (Employee, Customer, and Handicap alike) while even Starbuck's street cred has been diluted in its attempts to hustle 'Tea' and 'Instant' to whichever mom is left with some aggregate scratch in her purse after the mortgage is paid. And so, this concludes my accompanying comment for the above photo. It's all about visible evidence these days, anyway. Think about it...why waste an extra thousand opinionated words in this housing market? It could be better spent not ordering a double shot doppio derivative based half caf skinny foamed soy venti latte...negatively amortized and served up cold as revenge.

Geno Petro

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Chicago Eviction in the West Walker 'hood

They basically just toss your cookies on the sidewalk when the Sheriff comes a knockin' these days. Look closely though, and you'll notice this poor soul managed to preserve her husband's golf clubs. (Hey, gotta keep up the airs at whatever country club you belong to.) Hopefully, things will be getting better in the coming months for everybody in Chicago's West Walker.

The last time I checked there were 27 Foreclosures or Short Sales Listed on the Chicago MLS in this far northwest pocket of the city. As you can gather from the photo, its housing stock is solid, if not working class. The area on the side streets along either side of Elston Avenue (north of Irving Park) is a haven for Chicago City workers, contractors, and the local Union rank and file.

And its just MHO, but I can't imagine anyone in this traditionally blue collar neighborhood giving back their bonuses this year. I guess it all depends on where you draw the line...And how deep into the asphalt you go. And how teed off everyone gets. Fore!

Geno Petro

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

North Side Chicago Storefront For Rent (real estate crystal ball included)

You have to think the good Madame should have seen this coming before she signed a triple-net lease on Lincoln Avenue. It just goes to show, the current Chicago real estate market (in hot and trendy West Lakeview, no less) has even the pundits puzzled. My advice: listen to your favorite Realtor, not your Psychic (nor your office mates, drunken uncles, or check-out clerks at Jewel), before entering into a binding real estate transaction; purchase, lease or otherwise. It's just a premonition I've been having ever since I passed the leasing agent exam a decade ago. Oh, and always remember...'Walk-ins Welcome.' Now that's cosmic marketing.

Geno Pe

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Chicago St Paddy's Day Slog

Personally, green is not my best color (unless of course, I'm feeling envious). I'm Italian and, until they come out with a darker color, look best in black. Still, St Patrick's Day in Chicago is an urban day trip to behold regardless of nationality or couture.

First, they dye the Chicago River green. Then, they get all the college kids who just turned 21 drunk. Then, all the drunk girls get their drunk boyfriends into fights with each other. Then, they all get on the Forest Glen Metra train for the sloppy ride home. And finally, they all sit next to me.

I love Chicago; especially when someone isn't trying to bite me as I'm walking down Wabash. Yes, it's true. As I was leaving Trump Tower with my wife, a girl painted green from hair to toenails (again, not my fave) stumbled out of a bar across the street and tried to bite me. "IT'S SAINT PATRICKS DAY!" she screamed at me, teeth showing like a vampire and fingers curled, ready to grab. I stepped to the left as she flew by, mouth open, as if to sink into a corned beef sandwich. She smelled a little boozey too, but then again, club soda is my social beverage of choice on such occasions.

'Somebody's poor daughter,' I thought to myself as she fell face first into the guy behind me who at first, didn't seem to mind. She was kind of cute in a pitiful sort of way. A half block later he let out a blood curdling scream of his own. She bit him, I'm sure, like a corned beef sammy. Either that, or she dumped his beer.

'What a waste of tuition,' was all I could conclude. And that shamrock green doesn't really look good on anyone---Irish, envious or otherwise.

Geno Petro

once again, iPhone photojournalism on the fly in Chi

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wuthering Eff-ing Heights

My good friend Chris Hahn sent me this Blackberry snapshot from his new hometown across the pond---the big Pond, as in in England. (please note the ironic, digital, photojournalistic humor: sign, motorbikes, disobedience,etc...we taught the young lad well.)

He's without wheels so he's walking everywhere and eating Indian food like crazy, or at least, like a Brit. His pre-arranged, semi-furnished 'Flat' fell through so he and Nicole are holed up in temp housing for the time being. She's working 2 million hours a week at her new job. He's watching a lot of soccer. The man needs a cheeseburger.

His depression hasn't hit Bronte sister level yet but just between us Chicago real estate folks, I get the feeling our flyboy and former favorite Mortgage Guru is a little homesick. He had a soul patch, recent Mexican tan, and a two day beard growth when I last left him at the bar on Lasalle last month so.... hopefully he can remain cool. To avoid profiling at Airport Security, I advised him to remove all Brooks Brothers neckwear, wing tip shoes, and button down collars from his carry on baggage. Suspected Bankers are fleeing the country in droves these days, I warned him.

Anyway, Chip, chip, cheerio...time to go.

ps...remember Mr Hahn, a Yankee is one who visits. A damn Yankee is one who visits and stays.

Geno Petro

photo courtesy of chris hahn walking around London with nothing to do.