Friday, June 17, 2011

Urban etiquette: an occasional series

Today's topic: Neighbors.

Fucking neighbors, am I right?

If you're reading this and you live in a city, you probably either have or have had problems with some annoying fucking neighbors. I have had some bad experiences myself, like:

- When I lived (unfortunately and sadly) in Santa Cruz, I lived in this condo building near the beach and the next door neighbors were this old white couple from Walnut Creek that perfectly summed up and embodied "old white couple from Walnut Creek" with the fucking late-model Caddy and the condescending attitude and the whole 9 and they would come down to their Weekend Place which happened to adjoin my Everyday Place and they would fucking BLAST THEIR TV LIKE THEY WERE TRANSMITTING MATLOCK INTO SPACE and I had to have a talk with the old lady and she couldn't understand what the fuck was wrong. Bitch.

- Oh and as I alluded to last week, my place in North Beach was directly above a Divorced Mom Who Became a Lesbian and her two right-around-teenage kids and Mom used to jet off on the weekends to do lesbian stuff or whatever and leave the kids alone right around the time they discovered metal and you can guess where it went from there. Now, I'm not exactly a go-to-bed-when-the-sun-sets kinda guy, especially on weekends, but when the Metallica starts up at fucking 9 am on a Saturday YOU BET YOUR ASS WE'RE GONNA HAVE A PROBLEM. Little fuckers. I hope they're both in juvie now. GREAT JOB PARENTING ABSENTEE MOM.

We lucked out and have a place now that only has one wall in common with another place and so we don't really have neighbor problems any more except for the Creepy Old Guy whose back stair landing faces our back door. COG looks to be maybe late 60s and is bald and bearded and British, apparently, and typically wears suspenders and a t-shirt and comes out to smoke on his back landing and also FUCKING BLARES music outside to the whole fucking neighborhood, shit like Bob Dylan and Cab Calloway and scratchy old blues records. For the life of me I can't understand why he has to open all his doors and treat the entire neighborhood to his stupid fucking music but he usually turns it off by around 8 so I guess I don't have to kill him and his family YET.

ANYWAY. I don't want to hear this bullshit about "It's a city, if you don't like it move to the suburbs." Fuck you. This is about common courtesy. We all live on top of each other and a little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way. So here's how to be a good neighbor:

1. When you come home shitfaced at 2 am, don't fucking blast "California Gurls." If you want to rock out to some guilty pleasures, you have headphones. Use them.

2. Do you live above someone? Any time something hits your floor, I guarantee it sounds like a bomb going off through the ceiling to your downstairs neighbor. Watch it with clomping around in your Doc Martens.

3. Why are you hanging pictures at 1 am on a Tuesday? If you're not spun out on meth, you have no excuse. Driving nails is a Daytime Activity.

4. I know "According to Jim" reruns are funnier when you can hear them in every room of your apartment, but give us a break and turn the fucking TV down a little bit.

Life is tough and we all have our own struggles to work through. But we can all get along better and be happier and more productive citizenbots if we just look out for each other. Take 30 fucking seconds and think about someone besides yourself, OK?

I'm going to randomly put money in parking meters today. Random acts of kindness, you dig?


GG said...

Ugh. I am currently dealing with an elderly, seemingly mentally-ill neighbor who lodges repeated complaints about residents (complains to the city that the front yard of our shared building was not properly weeded, complains to SFPD that our next-door neighbors are drug dealers because they often have friends over, etc.). I've asked the city if there is a procedure about this akin to action against those who file repeated frivolous lawsuits, but they've been less than helpful. Oh yeah, and she has lived there for 20 years so I'm sure she pays about $25 a month in rent. I guess I should be thankful that at least she's not blasting Metallica or coming home wasted at 2am.

TK said...

Sounds like a pain, GG, but all things considered, I'd rather have an old lady complaining than someone blasting music at 2 am.

--rock over london said...

I'm a total creeper and found your blog somehow (Mission Mission perhaps) but I just have to say that the suburbs are NOT BETTER either. So to all those people who say move to the suburbs, they're wrong and should stop spewing that nonsense.

You have to deal with neighbors who think that 7 am is an okay time to start renovating their home (right outside your bedroom window), idiots who think that waking the neighborhood up at 4:30 am everyday with their ROOSTER crowing is also okay, and juvenile delinquents who like to set off M 80s in the middle of the night for fun.

For the most part no matter where you live people are self-centered and could give a rats ass about the comfort of their neighbors. I agree that taking a little time out to think of other people once in a while just might make dealing with neighbors a bit more tolerable for everyone.

Tamagosan said...

So how bad is it that I started humming David Lee Roth when I read point #1?

Our upstairs neighbors (Never had these before this place! Always been on the top floor! Now I know why!) like to barbeque out on their lanai at the exact moment when we are trying to relax on the couch. This can be any moment, as long as we are definitely trying to relax and definitely not listen to their extremely loud lanai door sliding open and closed. I understand you have to check on your fire and food and whatnot out there, but I wonder if EVERY 30 seconds is the appropriate interval? For like an hour?? I have been at a loss for an appropriate reminder that maybe just leave the door open for a while while you're cooking... Opening and closing my own lanai door many times over and over only annoyed me, and grappling hooks with angry notes or molotov cocktails seem overkill. Sigh.

Also, great fun fact today.

Dan said...

I personally have too many scarring crazy neighbor stories from Sycamore Alley to choose just one... so, I'll instead my friend's current predicament in Berlin: lives next to a VOICE COACH who gives lessons out of her home. So, he spends the entire day contending with 'Me me meee me me meee! Meeee me me me me me meeee! Ta ta ta taaa ta at taaa!' fluttering through the walls.

daisy said...

So, I'm totally with you on the headphones at 2 a.m. thing and I definitely put my headphones in while I'm wasted and blasting anything and everything from the Wicked soundtrack to Guns n' Roses, but no matter how hard I try, I just HAVE to sing along at the top of my lungs. While lying in bed. Until I pass out.

God, I feel so much better now. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dan, regarding the vocal coach issue, you of all people should know you turn to the classics to solve these problems.

Please reference "Harry The Dirty Dog", specifically "The Lady Next Door". Page 7 and 8 in the preview summarize this remarkably common scenario.

(Also, the other night I accidentally asked my 2.83 year old if she wanted to read "Dirty Harry" -- needless to say she immediately clarified the issue (though she is so watching DH when she's old enough for SF historical references).

Tamagosan said...

Isn't there one where Harry gets dirty? Or am I confusing it with the one about a sweater? It's been a while...

Dan said...


Thanks for drawing my attention to Harry! I don't know how I missed that one. Normally, any kind of threat, conflict or crisis finds me standing in my kitchen in underpants with a firearm in one hand, furiously rifling through Harry the Dirty Dog books with the other hand in search of wisdom and guidance.

Anonymous said...

Four books that I know of:

1) Harry gets so dirty his family does not recognize him and he is deported by ICE.
2) Harry lets a bird unravel his sweater. DPW arrests him for tree endangerment.
3) Harry goes to the beach and wreaks havoc on the local sea fauna, NOAA alerted.
4) Harry evicts the loud lady, but she is under rent control and the Board of Sups puts an injunction on him.

East Bay Burbs said...

Ahhhhh old Walnut Creek couples and their condescension. LOVE IT.

Dan said...

5. Harry is detailed by INS when it becomes apparent his first name is actually Hakim.