Sunday, January 18, 2009

Smooth Balkan Jams

It's late, Sunday night. The Brooklyn Baby sleeps peacefully, thank god, in her crib. The Brooklyn Baby Momma sleeps, also peacefully in our bed. My upstairs neighbor continues to make frequent and loud noises, punctuated by what sounds like a vacuum going on and off. Randi and I also love to make fun of his musical taste. You see we live in a building that is very Eastern European. For the most part this is great, they are kind, sweet people. But my neighbor loves to blast his loud Euro-disco party music at all hours, and, for some reason, plays it right over Stella's bedroom. I don't think it's woken her up yet, but we feel this is only inevitable. We've developed a nickname for his music, when it annoys us: "Smooth Balkan Jams." But you have to say it with the flat, humour-less inflection of a member of the KGB, or a really cheesy Middle-European radio announcer. Or Vladimir Putin.

I've already gone upstairs twice to ask him to keep it down, a little. Each time he's taken a long time to answer the door, and hid behind the open door, instead of opening it wide. It was dark inside his apartment, and my neighbor--a middle aged Eastern European man with white hair and a sparse beard on his face, sans moustache--seemed to be without clothing. He was certainly shirtless, judging from what I saw peeking out.

"I'm sorry, I have a little daughter and your music is keeping her awake, may I please ask you to turn it down just a little? Again, I'm really sorry." I only asked when the noise became obvious and too loud. And late. He blasts the Smooth Balkan Jams up to and past 11:00 p.m. at night.

The first time he looked at me with total shock, and then did it. The second time he argued with me.

"This is not house," he said. "If you want no noise you must live in house. This is apartment, you have to deal with noise. I can make noise until 11:00. "

His aggressiveness really cheesed me off. And I don't really GET cheesed off. But for him I made an exception.

"Look," I said. "I am trying to ask you NICELY if you could please turn it down. Get it? I am asking you NICELY." I guess I must have been more aggressive about it all than I intended, because he kind of stepped back in, I think, fear. After it was over I walked away, shocked by his reaction.

I would like to say that this solved the problem. And it seemed to, at least for a couple of weeks, but he's back to making a crap load of late-night noise. Often it sounds like he's moving the same piece of furniture across his floor, multiple times. Something big, heavy and that causes a lot of noise. Like an antique bureau, made out of chrome, or plutonium. "Let me see," I imagine him saying. "Do I like here?" As he moves his plutonium dresser across the floor, noisily dragging it every inch of the way. "Nah." This process goes on for hours. Then he vacuums.

I realize this is all part of big city living. And 99% of the time I suck it up. The irony is I've never asked a neighbor to be quiet in my life until I moved to what is basically the sticks of Brooklyn. Another irony is I'm the guy with six guitars, but I've never received even one complaint about noise from my neighbors.

I guess the noise cop, in my case, is my darling daughter, whom we are ALWAYS, it seems, trying to get down for a nap. And if she's not napping she's wanting to feed. The few times I've jammed out while she's on Boob Mountain she cocks one arched brow in my direction, as I'm mindlessly, but joyfully, noodling out to some kind of Grateful Allmans thing. Her look really says it all: "Is this really necessary?" She also seems to be asking me if this is all I've brought to the party: endless guitar wankery. And for the most part, she's right. It's not necessary and it's a lot of wankery. But it's fun. I can't wait till she gets older and I can teach her how to play the guitar, and then teach her, even better, the bass, so we can play together. I won't bother with the drums. Too noisy.


CurlyHairedMom said...

Sounds like your neighbor is a bit crazy! I live in a building of all old people, and it so far has proven great.... and amazingly nobody has complained about my kids :D

brooklynpotter said...

just because you can make noise till 11 pm doesn't mean you can make crazy loud noise till then.

i'm just saying.

Anne Stesney said...

Argh. In Manhattan we had a neighbor we called Bigfoot, who clomped around so hard and moved stuff around at 4 in the morning. She never woke our baby, but she stole precious sleep from us.

Double check about the 11PM thing. Most buildings I've lived in say cut out the noise at 6-7PM. Also ask your landlord about whether you can make him get carpet. A lot of buildings require the apartments to be 80% covered in carpet, NOT including the closets, bathrooms or kitchen. It can muffle the music a bit and definitely help with the furniture moving/footsteps.

rachel leah said...

You can be Brooklyn's answer to The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players.

David Serchuk said...

Hi All,
Man, was I late in commenting back. Sorry!

Yes, the guy upstairs is nuts. He often opened the door in the nude. Mostly though our neighbors are super nice. So it's mostly a good trade.

You're right! And you can't even make noise till 11:00, but 10:00 anyway. He's being kind of a jerk, still.

We are calling the landlords this week about carpeting. It's just silly otherwise. He's just too noisy, and doesn't care about our concerns. Thank you for the tip, and the BBM, btw, is telling everyone about your Xtranormal movies. They're hilarious.

We saw them several years ago. It was absolutely fantastic. Randi has already joked that the only thing she could do in a band is sell t-shirts. I think that's not true.