Turn Down That Music!

“Turn that stereo down or I am calling the cops!”

Old lady neighbor banging on ceiling with broom

Sometimes I listen to the police scanner (it's legal). Noise complaints abound, as would be the case in densely populated areas where multifamily housing is predominant.

And let's face it, the construction of most residences isn't exactly designed to withstand the decibels of many sound systems, from the old-fashioned stereo receiver or boom box to streaming on computers and Amazon Echo and what-not.

That bass beat, probably more insistent and all-powerful than even the dreaded leaf blower, can cause floors and walls to vibrate and created a scene of physical and emotional horror for those forced, yes, forced to listen to it. No, I do not exaggerate.

Yet, before the advent of such systems, most noise complaints resulted from domestic arguments (still the case) or babies crying.

(And come to think of it, probably not too many sex noises before the days of sexual liberation. And I haven't heard a complaint about that on the police scanner … yet.)

Note that says We don't give a fuck if you fuck... But why the fuck do you have to fuck so fucking loud? Fuck!

Anyway, it turns out that a woman known only as Eva N. in Slovakia tormented her neighbors for 16 years, not with rap or heavy metal (the usual means of sonic torture, but apparently loud classical music has been used to disperse loitering teens), but with opera. Specifically, Verdi. She supposedly put one aria from the opera La Traviata sung by opera superstar Placido Domingo on a timed loop from 6 am to 10 pm every day (she apparently was careful to not intrude on legal quiet hours for her jurisdiction).

Neighbor pointing at The Opera House

Why? According to the story which went viral, she was exacting revenge on her neighbors for a barking dog which also at one point bit her. The dog is now mercifully deceased. She no longer lives in the house, but she kept the music going. (I wish I could read her blog, but it is in what looks like Hungarian.) She has finally been detained and arrested, and the music stopped, but not after some difficulty. Apparently, because of the way she had set up the music on a timer, the authorities had to turn off all the electricity for the block to stop the music.

Neighbors called the house the Opera House or the Singing House. One woman said she liked Placido Domingo, but that this situation was ridiculous.

Placido Domingo singing
Placido Domingo

I also found another YouTube video (it has since disappeared from the internet) which seems like the selection is not from La Traviata (which doesn't really have a loud tenor aria), but the fiery, loud vengeance aria "Di quella pira" from Il Trovatore. It makes more sense it would be that one, given her goal of sonic revenge.

Cartoon of opera singer loudly singing

What does this story have to do with me, or for that matter, porn? I was guilty of the same action. And yes, with opera. I did it to blast out punk-loving and heavy metal-loving neighbors in one of my first apartments. My sonic weapons were primarily Verdi (the Act I ensemble from his opera Macbeth and the soprano-mezzo cat fight duet from La Gioconda. I was given a telling-off by the management company. I had to move. I was young. (At least I didn't put them on an endless loop, then leave.)

And I was also guilty of loud sex noises. I moved into another apartment, and the maiden lady (I am being kind) accused me of doing sits up exercises in bed. Yep, I was jacking off and screwing my first boyfriend on a futon I had on the floor. Poor soundproofing, as usual. I had to move. (Why was she listening?)

I was young.

Eva N. is not young. Is that the point? Maybe it's true to some extent that good fences make good neighbors, as proclaimed by Robert Frost. But if the fence (and one should think of the fence as more psychological than physical) is ramshackle, good can become bad, and a boundary based on respect can become a pit of contention.

Good fences make good neighbors

I would argue that good neighbors build good fences but also are willing to build a bridge over that fence. So often in dense cities a neighbor is only a slamming door, a pounding footstep, a flushing toilet. Not a person who goes to work and laughs and loves.

In the ideal good old retro days that some people have mischaracterized as some kind of white person's pastoral paradise, people knew their neighbors. I must agree that in many communities, this situation was true.

I was raised by my mother to get to know the neighbors, and, if possible, cultivate some level of friendship. My mother is still friends with neighbors that she knew more than fifty years ago.

It does take a village to raise a child, mold a mind, open a heart. And to also know when to turn the music down. Or at least invite the neighbors to your party.

(And maybe, as is the case in some porn fantasies, invite the cute upstairs neighbor to a really private party.)

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Bro, Some May Think You're Hot, I May Think You're Hot, But Get Outta Here!

Bros partying

I read with undue relish an article called, “The Chicago Bro Is Coming to Ruin Your Neighborhood.” Not that I am thrilled that the beer swilling, lawn pissing, stereo blasting jocks have taken over great areas of the city, but finally someone pinned down what I have been saying for years: most young white guys (not exclusively, but there is some truth to the stereotype) are jerks, and their fathers were probably jerks, and their fathers were the ones who slammed sissies into lockers and grabbed girls (or boasted of grabbing them).

I used to call them spoiled brats. Now, like the article, I think word douche applies. (Hmm … sounds like our Harasser/Douche/Vulgar Boor in Chief.)

The area by Wrigley Field in Chicago is now “bro” central, because of its proximity to a sports arena, but the area has always been bar heavy, but it was more like bars one would go to listen to bands, not scream and yell over monstrous TVs blasting “the game,” whatever it may be.

Bros cheering at a sports bar

But it seems like the exodus into the city from suburbia to have more readily accessible sex (one of the reasons many LGBTQ migrated to cities as well) that began with the yuppies in Lincoln Park in the eighties is in full swing, and the bros are now infiltrating areas west and south of Wrigleyville, such as Logan Square.

I must admit, yes, they exude like sweat the hotness of youth, physically attractive in the most overt way without trying to be. Think manspread, which one really notices in those sloppy shorts and T-shirts and overall lack of clothing that conceals the bro wears. He looks hot even in rags.

Manspreading jock on subway train

And all those gay porn videos with straight guys, or at least ostensibly straight. And all that cuddling and bromance.

Frat house straight boy sex

But if that attraction is welded together with narcissism, as the article claims, “the rules of common decency don 't apply to him,” and the usual “boys will be boys” smack of approval … we might as well run the country like a fraternity house and its worst excesses.

What disturbs me is the overt homophobia and misogyny this culture, but something that happened the other day in Toronto is another disastrous result. A driver of a van mowed down several people, resulting in casualties.

He expressed anger towards women in social media posts. He resented being “involuntarily celibate,” that is, he could not be with a woman and thus be a “real man.” Essentially, he was upset because he did not fit in with what he called, “The Chads and Stacys.” Take that to mean, in some ways, the bro culture.

Toxic masculinity. It's obvious here. Horrifyingly obvious. But are gay guys exempt from participating in this dynamic? That another question. But it's clear that gay guys have been the victims of this culture in its various forms for a long time, perhaps since the beginning of time.

Whatever the case, I am not going to let these bros wreak havoc on me or mine. Grow up, or get outta here. And guess what? You will grow old, and your hotness won't cover up the fact that you are, and always will be, jerks. We all need to make sure, in whatever safe and productive way possible, that you don't raise another generation of jerks.

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