|I've been a bad neighbor. I am sorry to admit it, but it's true. Chalk it up to youthful foolishness, or whatever, but the fact remains that several times in my life I have been the person (well, one of the people) that you would HATE to have living next door.
At the Bedford Häus we were actively despised by at least one of our neighbors. There was a woman living next door to us, an artist, whose life we made a living hell. Unintentionally, of course, but still the kind of noises that emanated from that house regularly were unspeakable. We had this MONSTER frat-house stereo with about 7 mis-matched speakers cobbled onto a daisy chain of amplifiers that was loud enough to melt steel. And, really. We were a bunch of pimply-faced oddballs and punk-rockers in our late teens and early twenties living in the shittiest and most beloved apartment in history, of COURSE we liked our music loud. Joyce, bless her heart, didn't share our fondness.
And who could blame her? Among us we worked all three shifts, when we worked at all, and we drank a lot of beer. So, 24 hours a day there would always be some zipperhead who just HAD to hear Professor Booty, Brother Rat, Then Comes Dudley, My Bloody Valentine or what-have-you. Not to mention when we'd go out on the roof with our instruments and play endless free-jazz hardcore versions of Sweet Leaf (complete with Dylan on that nasty Fluglehorn that Jordan and I found on the docks).
One Sunday morning Minnie, Zack and I were coming back after eating some blintzes and from a block and a half away we could hear that some of our countless housemates were up and roaring, listening to Carmina Burana. It was just BOOMING out over the sleepy neighborhood. They had frankenstereo cranked right up to eleven and when we turned the corner to go up to our apartment we saw that Joyce was out on the street in her pajamas, furious, looking up at the kitchen window shouting at the top of her lungs, "Hey! NEIGHBORS!"
We turned around and went to the movies.
Some time later I lived in a house in Binghamton, in upstate New York, that was similarly notorious. That house, though, was more about the BAND. We would get lubed up on Genesee Cream Ale and play as loud and as long as we could. We had moments (extended moments, actually) of transcendental brilliance, but a LOT of what we played sounded like an explosion at the feedback factory, even (especially?) when it was a version of the theme song from M*A*S*H, or El Condor Pasa. We were also really into old records at that house, and must have played Adam's 45 of "Wedding Bell Blues" by The Fifth Dimension one thousand times. We didn't get any complaints, at least any that we knew of, but our landlord did try to evict us (although that wasn't for noise, it was for our BIZARRE housekeeping and packrattery and, as I recall it, that when he came over to do something or other he found the front picture window broken with a dirty orange teddy bear stuffed in the hole to keep the wind out). Our house was pretty isolated, even though it was within the vast student ghetto in the southwest corner of town, but I just KNOW that there were people within earshot who were actively sticking pins into their hand-made likenesses of us. And again, I can't really blame them. Who could?
I've had bad neighbors, too. In Boston, on Hemenway Street, Zack and I lived above some total nincompoop northeastern students with loud stereo and no imagination, and then later Andy, Zack and I lived in a complex in Jamaica Plain near some guys who had a REALLY loud stereo and an even worse taste in music. I hated both of those sets of neighbors, but I didn't actively complain much, having BEEN as bad (or worse) a neighbor. Zack, hilariously, was so frustrated by the second set of neighbors that he actually snuck down into the basement while they were playing their extra-loud garbage and yanked one of their fuses. That Zack, he's a man of action. I have no doubt that those guys would've torn him to little bits if they found out he did it, they were thugs. But still: excellent move. I hope he looks back upon that covert maneuver with pride.
So, why am I thinking about bad neighbors, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you. Our neighbors upstairs are responsible for the plooping. It turns out they have a poorly installed (and illegal, according to the terms of the lease) washing machine that has been leaking into the ceiling for some time. Sometime Wednesday came the ploop that broke the camel's back, so to speak. It's a bummer, sure, but shit happens, right? Here's the thing: The dimwits upstairs are involved in some sort of illegal-subletter siege with the management company that owns the building, and it has resulted in a no-quarter, scorched earth war that means they WON'T LET THE CONTRACTOR INTO THEIR APARTMENT TO FIX THE COCKA DOODY LEAK. Assholes. It's been, what, six days now, and we still are sleeping in the living room and filth and filthy water is still plooping merrily into our (now unused) bedroom. Great way to get back at the management company, pinhead. Really brilliant. Making friends.