Now that it's really spring, I find myself worrying. Because with spring comes not only the temperate weather, the flowers, the birds, but also the flocks of loudmouths. What was once a pleasant season, something to look forward to after the brutality of winter, has become even more brutal. This weekend, we had our first loudmouth weather.
hotel patio & neighboring windows
In the East Village, it begins as early as the late morning, a giddy murmur rising up from the streets. Laughter that sounds not mirthful but performed, deliberate.
In a few hours, after brunch has been eaten and shopping begins, the air is punctuated by cackles and squeals. Cell phone ring-tones that bleat and trill. High-pitched cellular conversations about herpes infections, girls who announce to the world, "He touched me and was like, Do you like this? And I was like, whatever. So he did it again. Can you believe it?"
Before sundown, the drunken sing-songs begin (favorite tunes: the theme from the Love Boat and songs from Grease--"We go together like rama-lama-ding-dong!"). A pack of men in straw fedoras and women in spiky heels gather in a football huddle to bellow and howl like animals for 10 minutes straight, breaking up only because "Mike's gotta take a piss!"
In the dark, everything gets worse. The whole world roars. Young women scream at the sky just to display their copious lung capacity. Young men raise their voices to falsetto to compete. Hee-haa! They hoot and groan, high-five, dancing circles in their khaki pants, chanting and chest-thumping.
from urban etiquette signs
It didn't used to be this way. In the past few years, the noise has gotten unbearably worse. "Manhattan below 14th St. is, in fact, the most audibly offensive area of the city," reported the Villager in 2005. In 2007, the East Village was ranked the second most complained about neighborhood in town.
The proliferation of bars, the changing population, and the smoking ban have all created a fair-weather nightmare for people in the East Village and Lower East Side. People living above bars can't open their windows. Some residents manage to protest the noise or they make endless, pointless calls to 311. Others, with little recourse, dump urine on the offenders below. Curbed calls it the Noise Wars. With spring's arrival, the wars will begin again.
from urban etiquette signs
Sometimes, retreat is the only way to fight. Instead of enjoying spring's breezes, I lower my windows and turn on fans. I sleep with earplugs. I look forward to the real heat when shut windows and air conditioning will seal me in a white-noise hum. I look forward to winter's chilly muffle.