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    The election's over... what are you planning on doing?
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    Be vewwy vewwy quiet... I'm hunting Naders...
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    I Heard Them... Again
    Posted under From the Editor by Avery Glasser (c366822-a.htfdc1.ct.home.com) on Saturday November 18 2000 @ 07:37PM CET

    I don't know why, but for some reason, Janet and I have the strangest luck when it comes to hearing noises while inside our apartment. Everything from squirrels scratching to roommates fucking to car crashes booming, if it makes noise and can potentially wake us from a sound sleep, we've heard it.

    It all started out in what was purported to be the idyllic hamlet of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. I don't know where the Slippery Rock University brochure-writers got the idea that this two-trailers-short-of-a-trailer-park town was "idyllic", but my focus today is not on the general hell that was Slippery Rock, but on the specific hell that was SR-71, the street that ran directly in front of the apartment building where we lived.

    Aah, SR-71. The only road between Newcastle, PA and Butler, PA... two slightly larger towns to the North and South of Slippery Rock... which is the equivalent of saying that SR-71 is the fastest way of getting from nowhere to nowhere through nowhere fast. That's the problem.

    You see, people liked to get liquored up in Butler, which, being the County Seat had both a bar and a large state-owned liquor store... meaning that people would buy their booze, get drunk in the mall parking lot and then whip up SR-71 to get to either Slippery Rock University or Thiel College (in Newcastle). Drunks, a long drive, and no street lights created a situation that woke us up from a sound night's sleep on a number of occasions.

    The first time was due to a pretty major car crash. Some drunken idiots were speeding up the road and careened right into the mailboxes, taking half of them down before stopping. Unfortunately, what finally stopped the car was the building's external gas regulator. I immediately threw on some pants, and ran outside to see if everybody was OK. By the time I got there, my neighbor was already assessing the situation. You could smell the natural gas escaping into the air. Off to the side, Dave, my neighbor, noticed that one of the drunken drivers was trying to light a cigarette. Immediately, we ran over and started to scream... "Hey, you asshole! Stop trying to light your cigarette lighter or we'll all explode!" Dave grabbed the lighter and threw it into the field next to the apartment building. Though there was no explosion, we spent a week in the dead of winter taking cold showers as we waited for the gas company to fix everything.

    Drunken Pennsylvanians would also wake us a second time, this time when a drunken man, who was walking in the middle of the street sometime around 1am, got hit by a speeding car. The crash didn't wake us, but the man screaming that he didn't want to die at the top of his lungs as Dave frantically tried to stop his bleeding sure did. We couldn't sleep for months after that one.

    We figured that by moving up to the slightly more cosmopolitan city of Morgantown, WV, we would be rid of the Pennsylvania-Redneck noise and would finally get some peace and quiet.

    In Morgantown, we were privileged to live next to a coal-fired steam generation plant. Every morning, the trucks would bring loads of coal down Beechurst Avenue, kicking up dust and making that god-awful diesel-truck-shifting-gears noise around 5am.

    We moved from there to an apartment with a nymphomaniac roommate that liked bringing her "boyfriends" over for 5pm screw-a-thons. Actually, I shouldn't say "screw-a-thons"... because the sex sessions, predictably, started right around the second advertisement break for Star Trek: The Next Generation and she was cleaning herself in the bathroom before the 5:30 word from our sponsors.

    It's funny, I didn't even realize what was going on the first time my roommate (let's call her Heather) brought her boyfriend (let's just call him "John") over for one of these sessions. Janet and I were watching Picard order Wesley to fly the ship somewhere when I heard the strangest sound effect. It was a sort of squeaking sound. At first, I thought that the foley artists responsible for the special effects were trying to come up with a new sound for the Enterprise at warp speed, but alas, it was Heather's mattress (she didn't have a bed, just a stack of mattresses a la Princess and the Pea) going squeeka-squeeka-squeek. Then she started with the "Ohgoddon'tstopohgodohgod", followed by her John... er... I mean John's guttural *GRUNT* and then dead silence.

    You would think that this would be either interesting or amusing to listen too, but no... after the tenth time, it just gets annoying... but we escaped a couple of months after this behavior started, having only lived in that two bedroom apartment for less than 6 months before moving to Boston.

    I have to say, that even though Boston was fraught with problems, noise wasn't one of them. The apartment was relatively quiet, and aside from the screeching of the brakes from the green line (the Boston light rail system) , there were no noise related issues.

    Then we moved to San Francisco. We lived on the third floor of an old Victorian rowhouse that was converted into 10 apartments. For the first few months, it was dead silent. No noise, not even a peep. Then the people underneath us decided to have a fight where one person ripped the book shelves off the wall, creating a horrible crash. They left, and then one of the tenants on the first floor started playing his music so loud that the police had to come by... three times! The damned thing is that there was no rhyme or reason to his music. He wasn't throwing parties or anything... but every couple of months, he would crank up the radio at 8pm, and wouldn't turn it off until 4 or 5 in the morning. No matter what the landlord, building manager, or the angry horde of our fellow tenants would do (which stopped just short of cutting off his power)... he wouldn't stop. We would call, we would pound on his door... nothing. Only when the police came did he ever shut the hell up. By the time we left, we were frazzled. Like Pavlov's Dogs, every night as we tried to fall asleep, we would have a panic attack, expecting the music to come on once more.

    That brings us to our current domicile. Now, let me be the first person to say that our downstairs neighbors are extremely gracious and pleasant. However, for some reason, when they are in the side bedroom, we can hear EVERYTHING. Television, radio, telephone calls... you name it, we can hear it. I went down one day, all full of piss and vinegar, ready to ask them to turn down the radio. However, when I got down there and talked to Stacey (one of the roommates), I realized that the television was actually on very softly. It seems that the acoustics between the living room and her bedroom are extremely good, and the floor actually acts as a small amplifier. Adding carpets in the living room helped greatly, but still we can hear the occasional talk show coming from her television. Regardless, it's not nearly as annoying as the cars honking or the music from our next door neighbor. Oh yeah, and now on top of all of that, a squirrel has decided to make its home in the attic, where he (or she) makes all of these horrible scratching noises that make us jump up in post-traumati c-bat-invasion terror!

    The point of all of this rambling? Simple. I want a house. I'm ready to commit to the expense, and it's just time to settle down. Maybe this urban commando is finally ready to leave the city and move out to the suburbs. Then we should be able to finally get some peace and quiet!

    Maybe all this noise has finally gotten to me, or maybe it's just that I'm getting older... but now I finally understand the old adage: Silence Is Golden!


    Copyright 2000, Avery and Janet Glasser
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