To the editors:
As a neighbor of the Wild Hare reggae club and a resident of Lakeview and the 44th Ward for the better part of 12 years, I would like to add my observations to Ben Joravsky's Neighborhood News piece of February 5.
Many of us who live in this neighborhood are proud of the diversity we offer. People of different sexual and ethnic orientations live together here in a model of tolerance. Clubs like the Wild Hare represent the heart of this community, a place where all types of people can go and feel comfortable in relating to one another. The importance of this should not be understated in light of the Los Angeles riots and the racial problems of this city. The alderman's lack of vision in seeing the importance of a club like this for the ward and the city is not that surprising. What is surprising, and horrifying, is that other establishments on the block and some of our elected officials don't even see the need to cover up the double standard.
Even this evening, as the sound from the Wild Hare is barely audible outside the club, the doors of a neighboring sports bar are wide open (one even hangs its speakers on the outside to attract customers), unafraid of noise citations like those written to the Wild Hare.
Anybody who has walked Clark Street with any regularity will tell you that the employees of the Wild Hare and most of their patrons are friendly, polite, and dignified. In stark contrast, the patrons of the sports bars that occupy the very next block between Eddy and Wrigley Field are often loud, boisterous, rude to the neighbors, and much more likely to be inebriated. Mr. Gapinski uses the catchphrases of racism; they talk to the woman, they defecate on the lawns, but the reality is that many kids come from the surrounding suburbs to partake of beer specials at the sports bars, and in their disrespect for the neighborhood create the bulk of the problems. Just ask the policemen on the Clark Street beat which bars give them the most trouble.
The Wild Hare has hosted neighborhood meetings on the subject, which I have attended, as well as sponsoring neighborhood dinners and cultural events, yet they are the ones being cited as a problem to the community.
Unlike Mr. Gapinski and his 49 residents who won't reveal their names, I want to inform the owners of the Wild Hare that we appreciate what you add to our community. So do many of the visiting Cubs fans who get their first taste of reggae, and not coincidentally racial tolerance, at the Wild Hare following Cubs home games.
On behalf of myself and my friends and neighbors in the 44th Ward we want no part of the harassment of the Wild Hare, it's just the alderman--and a few of his racist friends.