Friday, June 03, 2005

Can I listen to Merzbow instead?

Work was exhausting yesterday and I'd decided to completely veg out last night. I returned to mi casa and everything appeared to be going to plan. I had my book, my couch was feeling particularly comfy, and I had some Coltrane playing. In all, a perfect setup. And then, it began.

The wailing, the whining, and the crying.

And, no, it wasn't me.

Backstory: I live in Brooklyn Heights, a beautiful neighborhood right near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Heights is all brownstones, tiny side streets (like the one I live on) and trees. Within the last two years, however, it has become littered with children. The sidewalks are choked with strollers and herds of preschoolers holding hands with their buddies. Seems every young, married couple has somehow migrated to my neighborhood and now it’s become a veritable anthill of tiny folk.

My next-door neighbor, a recent émigré herself, has just had her second kid, but it was her eldest (who I believe is about three) who was successfully shattering my relaxation.

The little nipper was right outside my window, howling like a banshee for mommy. This went on for about five minutes. Unable to read or concentrate because of this brat's fucking racket, I got up and glanced out the window. She and her new sister (in the obligatory stroller) were there, along with their nanny. Now, is it just me or is it the nanny's job to attend to the kid? That is to say, get her to shut the hell up? Apparently not for this lady. She would occasionally say something along the lines of "Let's go for a walk. You're mommy's not home yet." The kid would continue to blubber and scream and just be the kind of loud that only children are capable of. Rinse and repeat.

This literally continued for 45 minutes. I was tempted to head outside, grab the kid and say, "Your mommy's not here because she hates you. Know why? Because you're an obnoxious, spoiled little brat."

But my calmer instincts prevailed.

Finally, the nanny somehow corralled this little punk. The tumultuous trio then proceeded to leave on what I can only imagine was a mission to spread further noise throughout the neighborhood. Coming out from under my rock, I returned to my book, my couch, and my Coltrane.

Mellow bliss for half an hour.

And then the return.

Now at this point, the three year old had somehow managed to put a fucking sock in it and seemed content to scramble around in the dirt with whatever it was she'd found interesting. That, of course, was the signal for the newborn to make her sonorous self known, i.e. the infant started to wail at the top of her lungs.

Again, the nanny did jack shit to see to the child. What are they paying this woman for?

(Ben samples the babies' latest bedlam)

I am very mindful of my neighbors. I keep the volume on my music reasonable. When I have friends over, I am mindful of the time and make sure that I don’t keep my neighbors up with loud conversations. In short, I am, for the most part, a considerate person. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the human race continues to be completely oblivious to the world around them. Especially when it comes to their children. I think the assumption is that everyone will think, "Oh, she can’t help it. She’s just a kid."


There’s a common misconception that because I don’t want kids, I don’t like kids. This isn’t true. I don’t dislike them. I just like well-behaved kids and it seems to me that children these days aren’t disciplined enough. I’m not talking about beating the shit out of them (although the little dear outside my window had me sorely tempted). I’m talking about being stern with them and teaching them what’s appropriate and what’s not. Far too many parents these days let the TV do the teaching. And guess what, folks? It doesn’t do a very good job.

Parenting is a full time job and far too many people don’t approach it as such. It is a parent’s job to teach a child about the world, society, and how to behave in public. No excuses. Train your kid or keep them at home so the rest of us can read our books in peace, damn it.

OK, rant over. Did I even make a point? Don’t know.

Anyway, I had to put up with l’enfant terrible for another half an hour before the nanny finally got wise and stuffed a bottle in her mouth. She then managed to drag the three year old (now kicking and screaming) back into the house. Luckily, the walls between houses on my block are nice and thick and managed to shut out all but a faint trace of the ensuing tantrum.

Now if I could only get a thicker ceiling to shut out the shitty house music from my upstairs neighbors.

But that’s another story entirely...

Using the following for effective child-noise suppression:

Happy Rhodes - Ecto
(the love child of Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson; she’s got a 4 octave range, kids)

Inside Treatment - Isolated Suburban Psychokillers In Coma
(rough and tumble rock’n’dustrial from ages past)

Aqua Travesty - One Fish Two Fish Dead Fish New Fish
(imagine Depeche Mode with no gear; melancholy, DIY synth release from 1987)

Minimal Man - Sex With God
(tunes to slit your wrists to)

Ministry - In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up
(Al and crew rip your head off one more time with feeling)


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