It's Jackie's Neighborhood

Attention, drunks, drug runners, cactus thieves, and other enemies of Sunset Heights: Jackie Harris is looking for you. And she's got her machete.

The car lot, so far, is a Jackie failure. But here on another nearby corner is a repair shop, also unmanned. Jackie says she's friends with the landlord, but they had sort of a falling out when he started renting the place out to supposed Asian gangsters who used it as a betting parlor. Again, undocumentable. But Jackie called the cops out there enough times, and the now-empty shop no longer disturbs her.

And she's sure she'll get the cantina and the car lot too, one way or another. She's got all the bravery and all the nerve and all the phone numbers she needs.

Besides, Jackie's an artist, and it's fair to think of her homestead as a work in progress.

"I'm not just concerned with my little corner anymore. Now I've started to do things like I'll call in dangerous buildings to Neighborhood Protection, littering complaints on this whole area, because I'm getting sick of just the idiots that sort of don't care and are bringing down the whole neighborhood....

"My friends are all kidding me because it's like I'm trying to take over. 'I want that property, I want that property, I want that property.' I'm cleaning them all up."

Jackie scans her empty lot with pride. "I'm not kidding you, I took that house from them. It took two years. I manipulated the whole thing."

And if her block, here in her transitional neighborhood, is still peppered with bad neighbors among the good, well, that's not going to discourage Jackie.

"They," she promises, "will go, too."

E-mail Brad Tyer at brad_tyer@houstonpress.com.

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