From the outside, anyway, the place doesn't look all that bad. This house provoked the city's new "landlord, live in it thyself!" law?
"Actually, I probably lived in a house just like this when I was in college," joked Channel 24 reporter Tom Bosco.
Yeah, me too.
We stood in front of 426 Parker Ave., the house where owner Jonathon Rhodes was to begin house arrest for failure to fix the property.
This was a media must-see yesterday (as one passing neighbor said: "All these TV cameras! There a murder or somethin'?" ), although the story doesn't start until tomorrow, when city officials expect utilities to be connected.
On the front door of the vacant duplex hangs a sign entitled Rules for Crazy Carty, - including commentary on the mayor's recent alleged assault of a restaurateur at the municipal market - that reads like this:
Do nothing that you would not like to be doing when Jesus comes
Go to no place where you would not like to be found when Jesus comes
(Erie Street Market)
Say nothing that you would like to be saying when Jesus comes
(take the name of the Lord thy God in vain).
So, um, I guess we have some idea how Mr. Rhodes feels toward the mayor. Even so, I wanted to talk with him, so I made my way down the block to the rambling two-story house where court papers say Mr. Rhodes lives.
A large picture of Jesus greeted me from its place propped against a front window, but no one else did.
"All I know is, he gets bad renters and they do damage to the property," said Ken Rhodes, the landlord's brother, whom I ran into out on the sidewalk. "And anyway, he's allowed to go to work and stuff. It's more like a curfew, although it still is an injustice."
Ken led me to the back of the house, where we roused a small poodle-mix dog with a furious bark and a flimsy-looking chain.
"Quiet, Fluffy," Ken said as he strode past the animal, whose raucous self-esteem as a guard dog (it's always the little ones that bite) kept me at bay.
Ken disappeared through the back door, and re-emerged with his brother's regrets, which I tried to counter.
"But doesn't he want to explain his side? Ask him that, Ken, OK?"
After a long wait, a weary-looking woman opened the door.
"I'm Jonathon's mother. He worked last night, and he's sleeping right now. Honey, I've got a bad heart, and all this," said Judith Rhodes, waving her cigarette in the air, "is making me nervous. I'm afraid I'm going to end up calling 911."
I took my cue. Heading back to my car, I found none other than Bob Burger, commissioner of neighborhood revitalization.
"I've been with the city six years, and he already had four or five houses in court when I came. Look at this door! See that [dripping, blotchy] paint? Everything Jonathon does is slap-dash," Mr. Burger fumed.
Down the block, in his mother's house, the landlord slept undisturbed.
Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Readers may contact her at 724-6086, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.