Our block has the perpetual, carefree, dissolute ambience of a frat party the morning after. The neighbors directly across the alley still have booze bottles sitting outside their garage door from their annual cocktail party one YEAR ago (you read that right). There used to be three crates of booze bottles and a couple pieces of furniture that apparently didn't survive the party, and a pair of skis. Over the last few months, they have somehow managed to summon the energy to throw out two of the crates, then the busted furniture and eventually the skis, but I guess they ran out of steam when it came to that last lonely crate of bottles. It still sits outside their garage door, about 30 feet from the dumpster. (This home belongs to an engineer and a published novelist--I've also been inside the home many times, which looks like another house and a bar and a restaurant and a book store exploded inside a crack den and no one had the heart to clean it up. It is a future Superfund site.)
A white Fred Sanford lives down the street, surrounded by his salvage yard. Lovely man, generous, friendly and helpful, but a bit of a packrat. I saw a toilet in his backyard once. A mentally handicapped woman used to live next door, but she moved away. She was a Shouter. I think her brother was a meth dealer.
But best of all is that the neighbors with the booze bottles have recently developed what I can only assume is intended to be a "garage band", i.e., they strike musical instruments and vocalize in their garage. I was listening over the weekend, trying to figure out what genre it is they're going for. Can't put my finger on it. I think it's a new genre.
There is usually a drum, a guitar and vocalizations. They've been at it for several weeks now. On Sunday I detected three distinctly different "songs" being played concurrently (one on the drum, another on the guitar, and the vocalizer seemed to be pursuing yet another composition), in three different keys at once (the keys in each "song" change every measure or so). Very, very avant garde. In fact, the arrangements they do are really complex. The person banging the drum (one-handed from the sound of it--I think his name is ZOG) cleverly changes the tempo every couple seconds--fast, faster, REALLY FAST, not so fast, sort of fast, little slower, faster, faster, STUPID fast--getting crazy now--Oh, I guess we're taking a break now. Oh wait, no we're not. Just changing hands. The guitar is freakishly out of tune (so daring!), and played apparently while wearing mittens. The "vocalist" (the one producing the vocal noises) is doing an intriguing, completely atonal impression of Bob Dylan with the occasional foray into Sid Vicious when she's feeling sassy. Like a true artiste, she is not married to conventional ideas such as pitch, key signature or tempo. From time to time she might yell.
Their repertoire is very, very minimalist. One song, apparently. Something about needing a man. I know all the words by heart now. "I need a man, I need a man...[instrumental]...I need a man." At one time there was what sounded like a two-handed drummer who seemed to be making progress but I think Zog has replaced him/her. I am intrigued to know what their plans are--is this goal-oriented activity (like they have a gig at the deaf school?), or just noodling? And of course, more than once they have postponed their sessions until quite late in the evening, or have resumed an earlier session at bedtime, sometimes serenading the darkened neighbor houses with their thoughtfully amplified vocalizations until well after 11:00 p.m., weeknights. The gentleman who lives in the house ran for City Council last year (or maybe it was the year before). He clearly rejects passe and bourgeois notions of neighborliness and common courtesy, and has freed himself from shame. This would have made for interesting City policy (he was not elected).
So, I am eagerly awaiting the next piece of jewelry I will produce in this