Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Urban Blight Tour 08

Ask anyone from Kansas City which area of the metro is the most crime ridden , blight filled part of town. Most will say the East side, or KCK. While both of these areas are definitely contenders, there are countless smaller pockets throughout the city. Over the next few weeks, I am going to take you to some of them. So lock your doors, roll up your window, and put on your best fake cop face. Here we go.
Forty Highway, maybe you drive it on your way to work, or to the Chiefs and Royals games. Unless you are completely unaware of your surroundings, which makes you an excellent target by the way, then you have probably noticed a few rundown motels and trailer parks scattered among the mostly commercial section that runs east from Van Brunt. Hopefully you have never had an urge to explore the interior of these trailer parks, and if you felt the urge you were smart enough to not act on it. Lucky for you I'm neither particularly smart or easily frightened. I really love the grit and grime that stubbornly clings to the city.


There is a mile or two stretch of 40 hwy that stand as testament to vice in its most base form. Sex and Drugs, and Rock, minus the Roll. While the hookers don't stroll through here in the same numbers as Independence Avenue or even Troost or Prospect, they are here. It is a safe assumption to say that hookers and smokers use the small No Tell Motels as their base of operations. You don't have to be Mike Hammer to figure out the appeal of cheap motels that don't require, or probably even accept credit cards. The smaller motels , I'm gonna go out on a limb here, are family owned, probably East Indian families. Some of the bigger hotels have not fared so well. The largest motel on 40 hwy, the old Stadium Inn, later named the Sunset Inn sits abandoned, and probably stripped of its copper pipes and wires. I'm willing to bet, its empty rooms are home to a few of the nocturnal inhabitants of this area. The only way to be sure is to walk inside the abandoned building, and that just ain't gonna happen. Now, crack and prostitution are just two of the three deadly sins that are a mainstay of the 40 hwy strip. In fact, as ragged and filthy as these motels and the occupants may be, they are living in the Ritz Carlton in comparison to what you are about to see. So make sure the boss isn't looking over your shoulder, put down that donut, trust me you don't want to be eating right now. Let's take a ride through Bunker Hill and Mayfair, hands down the single most filthy place this side of the landfill, where Meth is surely the drug of chioce. Bunker Hill and Mayfair trailer parks sit side by side, nestled 100 feet or so off of 40 hwy. Strangely enough this may well be the most integrated area in the city. Whites and Blacks live in harmony. Okay, that bit about harmony, was bullshit. I doubt peace and harmony have ever set foot in this rats nest that passes for a trailer court. In fact, trailer park residents everywhere may file a class action suit against me for defamation of character. These two parks are cesspools, pure and simple. When I turned in to the Mayfair, the first thing I noticed was the absence of any dogs, and thankfully, children. I should say that I heard dogs barking, several of them, but I didn't see a single one. As I idled through the park , I passed a wire thin guy in bibs with a bushy beard that clearly hadn't seen comb nor soap since it was a 5 O'clock shadow, but more about him in a minute. Here are a few of the classier places in the Mayfair. Actually, this Is hands down the cleanest looking building in the two parks. And the only one that doesn't have a hitch and wheels, I might add. As I rounded the bend on the far end of this horseshoe shaped park, I came across this airy and spacious custom painted home. Someone has really put a great deal of time and effort in to the place.
As you can clearly see there is an open area toward the rear of the home, it reminds me of the homes in Southern California and Hawaii that have entire rooms that open up to the outside environment. Now I know you are trying to figure out what the hell the spray painting on the front says. I was going to get out of the car and move that bush to make it clearer to read, unfortunately, the Princess of the Park came out of a trailer directly across from this one, and she was giving me the stink eye, no pun, so I thought I should move along. I did blow it up and here is what I came up with.
There are letters that have been changed, the two L's look like they were N's, and the S was also covering another letter. I have no idea what this means, maybe bad spelling, or perhaps a cover up by this Mark the Murderer fella. So back to the Princess, who was rubber necking the middle age white guy, with the flashing black box that steals your soul. We call it a camera, but the natives of the area don't seem to understand what it really does, you will soon see why. The princess , much like the emperor, had no clothes, well she had no shoes, and was sporting coochie cutter shorts which displayed a tattoo that looked like it was done by an epileptic in full grand Mal seizure. Her hair was died a flat black, and she could have used a bra, or else she had twin tumors poking mid torso out the front of her t shirt. Either way, it wasn't a pleasant sight. As I drove on , I passed this place Which is private property and marked accordingly. And this place which needs a little work. And I found the source of the earlier mentioned barking dogs. This RV was literally rocking back and forth and the dogs were raising hell. I was almost tempted to free them, but didn't want to end up eaten by hungry pit bulls. So, as I'm making the last turn that leads out of the Park , to my surprise, Bearded Bib Guy, Trailer Park Princess, and a black guy with a big plastic sack, are standing in front of bib guys trailer. Princess was doing the Meth inspired Ozark high Step. Meth users have this funny thing they do with their legs when they have been up too long. Like the Funky Chicken or the Jed Clampett dance. Well she is pointing at my car and then back up to the trailer, and I swear to god, she makes a sign language gesture of me taking pictures. That was my cue to leave, but how could I without one last parting shot for posterity. I stopped the car, leaned out the window zoomed to the best of my ability, and fired away. Bib guy was a whole lot smarter than the other two. He understood that if someone is snapping pictures, and you don't want to be captured on film, you move out of sight. He was smart, the other two, not so much.
Well there you have it, installment one of my bi state expose on Blight, Crime and little known corners of the Kansas City Metro area. Thursday we will journey to the Kansas City Kansas area along Quindaro Blvd. I would be remiss if I didn't give proper thanks to JOCO SOB who originally came up with the idea for a top ten list of the worst blight in the area. I thought it was a great idea, and he told me to run with it. I decided to change it from a list, and instead will do my best to give you a feel of the areas, and let you the reader draw your own conclusions as to the best of the worst. Also I'm going to set up a flicker page so you can peruse all of the pictures Ive snapped of these areas, these are just a small sampling. I'll post a link when it's ready.

24 comments:

  1. Pretty impressive work and seems like you were in more danger than a guy snapping pictures in Baghdad.

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  2. Holy Shit. I'm feeling like Bill fucking Gates right now. How the fuck do people live like that? Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket.

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  3. I drive by this place periodically when I want to bypass the traffic on 70. I want to personally thank you for doing what I have been too afraid to do since seeing this trailer park. My obsession with observing trailer park life is well documented, but my fear of getting shanked was greater. I never ventured in the park. I try to stick to less intimidating parks. I'm kind of a pansy that way.

    I just figured the "ladies" of the park worked at the strip club that was across the street.

    Thanks again for your bravery. I feel as though I was part of your experience, without the danger.

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  4. Oh man . . . a complete expose on my neighborhood! Everything here was immediately familiar to me cuz I live near 40 & Blue Ridge Blvd. Wanna buy a house?

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  5. AWESOME! This is why you were the guy to do this. I love it.

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  6. Real East Side ResidentMonday, August 11, 2008

    MM, I used to half assed respect you. Don't be a pussy and roll thru a couple of trailer parks and motels on 40 and come up with half assed conclusions on the area. Let your testicles descend and walk thru. Hell, I will let you ride bitch on the back of my putt thru them. They are 1/100th the shitholes as the blight in midtown. I thought you sometimes were a man. Guess the sometimes was wrong. Go back to whining about your time in Club Fed. -100

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  7. RESR. Easy skippy. I dont make conclusions, I state fact. I'll pass on the scoot ride, but appreciate the love. I'll be getting around to my beloved midtown soon, fear not. I also didnt imply that the entire area was blighted, so dont get your chaps in a wad. I specifically referred to a one or two mile strip. And if you think my assesment was off, maybe you need to clean off your goggles and take another look. Better yet stick to those dog eared copies of In the Wind and Biker Babes.

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  8. This is gold, seriously. I've also had a long-standing fascination with this sort of thing, and am thrilled you're brave enough to venture through these places. Now if only you can get the meth-heads to agree to a group photo, I'd be in heaven.

    Hmm...possible topic for a future series: Scout the metro for photos that would make up your own fictional circus-freaks side show act?

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  9. Twenty-five years ago in 1983, I had friends who lived in the Mayfair trailer park while the husband attended Cleveland Chiropractic College. They left the area after he graduated, but I never drive past it without thinking of them and their then-infant daughter. The place was run-down back then, but not nearly so much as now. Lots of students lived there then too. Sad.

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  10. I too have a fascination with these areas of the city! I am looking forward to your next installment! Good work!

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  11. I find this a testimony to what meth does. We're talking about criminals here. We're talking about the walking dead. How come the city can't condemn these places and charge the lot owners? They must break every code in the book. We all know the cops know all about this place too. Why aren't they doing something about the kitchens? Heck I saw a stovepipe type thing sticking out the window in one of these places.

    And, we wonder why we have crime in KC? Cause we don't do a damn thing about it when it's right in our faces.

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  12. Fascinating as usual, MM. I'm looking forward to the next installment. Just don't get your ass capped for it. Be careful. But keep sharing.

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  13. For some reason, I kinda like trailer parks. But the ones you took pics of? Damn... just damn.

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  14. i think this is a good idea because it brings awareness to people. however i firmly believe that most (not all) live in these places because its all they can afford to live. its not all about choice they live there. some people are actually embarassed to live in places like that, but its the only place some people have. either that or the streets.

    problems like these should not be placed wholly on the individuals if at all. the living conditions are bad, but most blames should be placed on the community for not reaching out more to help those in need.

    thats my opinion.

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  15. im pretty sure the velvet caddy is a downtown fixture...just to the east.
    there's a place there that's much like fred sanfords.

    i moved back to KC 4 years ago. I've never been so depressed. The city is a cess pool, and the people are cold.
    the environment is just a manifestation of the coldness of the people. it's so sad. i'm almost wishing i get fired from my job so i can pick up and leave. i'd rather be poor in other parts of the country than middle of the road in kansas city.

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  16. OK, I went back to the area East of the Isle of Capri casino to get that bar's name and some other street names. The name of the bar I wouldn't set foot in at night is The River's Edge. Some of the street names are Gardner, Prospect and Nichols. I think I have been to most areas of KC but this area is far and away the shittiest.

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  17. I think you should publish the names of the trailer park owners and the very people who not only allow this blight to continue but to actually flourish so they can make a buck not only off the criminally minded but those who are decent but are poor.

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  18. I use to live there and it is that bad.
    when i was 6 years old I was raped in buncker hill by Gorge Fagen

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  19. i agree with takebackamerica!

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  20. This is Glen Zeller i live in bunker hill trailer park at 3511 palmer terr with my husbend of 7 year that just pass away on 03-20-2010 Mark Jay Harper it was home to us for 6 years when Mark pass away i was told i had to pack up and move out of the one place i called home o god this is so hard to put in here i am crying like a baby sry but any way home is how you make it and me and mark made it in to a good home so i miss my home and i miss Mark love you Mark where ever you are sign Glen Zeller

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  21. I was stationed in Kansas City in the Marine Corps from 01-05 and stayed till 08 and lived all over the metro, from 9th and Pennsylvania, to Shawnee, to Overland Park, 82nd and Highland, to Belton.. I used to love driving around and seeing some of this stuff like this. I lived on Richards Gebaur for a while in South KC and right out in Belton on 58 was the "Beverly Hills" of Trailer Parks, I think it was called Southfork, biggest friggin trailer park I ever saw in my life.

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  22. I forgot to mention this as well.. while I was stationed down at Richards-Gebaur I actually worked at the Bannister Federal Complex and had a night job managing a Little Caesars in Belton so I knew the roads really well in Belton.. every street in this trailer park was named after something from the television show "Dallas", (i.e. "Sue Ellen Ave.", "Ewing Way", "Miss Ellie Circle") Hilarious!!

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  23. My father lived in one of the trailers in bunker hill with his girlfriend and my two siblings and he wonders why I never visited that much and why his gf left him with my brother and sister. I wouldnt want my siblings living like that. thank god I live in a small nice town!! KCMO can go up the fuck hole where it belongs!!!

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  24. A couple years ago i went on a car repossession mission in the Mayfair Park. Im glad i didnt find the car there.

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