Midtown Miscreant blogger Mark Smith finds cheer in Kansas City’s most depressing places 

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Smith doubts that he enjoys such stature.

"I think I'm the dog-and-pony show of Kansas City," Smith says of his place in the local blogosphere. "I don't really fit."

He rants about crime, his past and blight. He has earned enemies, engaging in a flame war with self-appointed crime-fighter Alonzo Washington after Washington trashed the family of a crime victim for refusing his help.

"Why go out of your way to call them liars?" Smith asks me. "They just lost their kid. Have a little compassion."

In late October, Smith wrote about himself.

"Prisons are full of former abused, molested, and neglected children. Here is the story of one."

The boy is 7, his father out of the picture, his newly divorced mother worried about his lack of a male role model. It's 1966, a "supposed safer era than today." A neighbor with a train collection offers to take the boy to church, mentor him.

"The trips to church, the time spent playing with the train collection, lead to something dark, foreign, beyond the understanding of the naïve trusting woman and the innocent 7-year-old," Smith writes. Eventually, the boy refuses to go to church, and the neighbor finds a new kid to mess with.

"Jump forward to the early '80s, the boy, now a man, stands in the shadows late one night, staring across the street at the man's house. He still lives there, older, no longer as imposing, just an old bent man, living alone.... The old man came within minutes of having his markers called in, his ticket punched, snuffed out like a candle. For reasons the boy couldn't explain, still can't, he gave the old man a pass, he let him live."


Smith seemed the perfect person to spend this year's holidays with.

Smith picks me up at The Pitch office in his black Dodge Stratus. Normally Max, his Yorkie, would ride shotgun in a laundry basket, but not for this afternoon's blight tour.

"This first place that we're going is Blue Summit," Smith says, referring to the hamlet bordered by Truman Road and 23rd Street and Interstate 435 and Blue Ridge Boulevard. He calls the place “Dog Patch.”

Smith is following a couple of navy-blue corrections-department vans, likely headed to the courthouse in Independence.

"It's a lot of younger, 20-, 30-year-old white people who just want to be drunks and crackheads and smoke meth and steal copper," Smith says of Blue Summit's residents. He clarifies. Not everyone in "Dog Patch" is on the wrong side of the law. Some, he says, are "just regular working Joes." Smith follows the corrections vans under the I-435 bridge. He passes the Erotic City porn emporium and turns on Vincil Street. A sign reads: "Now entering Blue Summit."

"This is probably one of the biggest shitholes in the city," Smith says.

It looks like a trailer park, but it's not. The mobile homes, Smith says, "are just the nice places."

A few middle-income homes with Christmas decorations fail to cheer up the gloomy area. We also see boarded-up homes, shanties and burned-up frames.

"You come in here in the summertime when they're all out, it's like they've got radar," Smith says. "They know when somebody doesn't belong."

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