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“No, Steve, I didn’t know I was making noise.”

“And what was it last week when you threw silverware on the tiles? Or,” he glanced at the hardwood floor, “when you drop coins?”

Steve, venting, continued.

“And last week when the elephants marched through?”

“Oh, the furniture. I had to………”

“And what’s with that stupid piano”

“What stupid piano? I’m trying to …………..”

Steve had more to say. “That’s my home below you. My sanctuary. I work hard all day and when I come home I want peace and quiet. Can you keep that in mind?” He walked back to the stairs, leaving his final word: “Don’t be so damn inconsiderate!”

The next morning Gris, Ida Rose and I watched Sanjay read the letter. Halfway through he shook his fist and shouted, “This is crap!”

And when he finished, he addressed our building. “This is America! I can talk on the phone where and when I want.”

The next two mornings Sanjay didn’t show up and the self-employed took off a couple days. The silence was eerie, like a virus had annihilated civilization. It was almost too quiet to write music.

By Wednesday residents on both sides of the park were nervous. There was a sense that something was going to happen. And it did.

I had decided to go camping and work on the theme song in the desert. But late Wednesday afternoon, as I was loading my car, and as the party was cranking up with the world’s loudest version of Light My Fire, I saw Gris dash out of the building and slip through the iron rail fence. I hurried after him. He strode toward the boom box. Sanjay stepped in front of him.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m going to turn off that damn music!”

A shoving match ensued. Coalitions formed behind the two combatants. Name calling got vociferous. Somebody dialed the police, and four cop cars descended on the park with sirens, flashing lights and squawking radios.

One cop interviewed Sanjay and Gris together. The others disengaged the crowd with questions about motorcycles, the college world series this weekend, and dog whistles. Conversations broke out about police motorcycles, the Padres, and the K9 Corps. The cops had dived the melee into comfort zones.

All of a sudden Sanjay hopped onto the stump.

“Everyone, please. Be quiet.”

Half the crowd hushed.

“Everyone. Please stop the noise for a minute.”

The policemen turned off their radios.

“Listen,” Sanjay tells the crowd. “Please. Just listen.”

Crickets. Toads. An owl. Interstate 8 in the distance, like wind through pines.

Then we heard it. A newborn crying. Sanjay jumped off the stump and bound toward Casa de Amigos, grinning like an actor going to receive his Oscar.

Minutes later he reappeared, cradling a pink bundle as small as a loaf of bread.

We all began to applaud.

“This fighting is stupid,” Sanjay told us. “Simply stupid. This is the stupidest thing I have seen since coming to America. We are all neighbors. We should act like it.”

Then Sanjay held up his newborn child and declared: “I promise I will no longer make phone calls in the park.”

A month later Sanjay and Ping sent out wedding invitations to everyone, including the four cops. There was a Chinese/Indian smorgasbord, a Buddhist ceremony, and Eric the Red’s rock band. Gris talked with Ping about acupuncture for pain relief. Ida Rose held the baby like it was her own. And the policemen danced with their wives.

These days I again compose songs with my windows open. Morning sounds include coffee grinders and toasters. Evenings include pots and pans and microwave beeps. Residents talk about their workday. A neighborhood has its music.

One more thing. Fred Jenner called. He’d recorded my theme song. That was the best music I’d ever written, he said.

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auntsandiegospeaks June 29, 2009 @ 8:53 p.m.

What a nice, uplifting story. I have a major issue with neighborhood noise (downtown, 9th & F). We have the problem of a recent insurgence of homeless persons. They bring their dogs with them and we are subjected to barking. The people treat the area as their homes, so we get to listen to arguments almost every day. AND, the human waste has given this area a particularly awful odor. Summer should be fun.
Then there are the "Money talks" people. The Ivy Hotel has a 6th story roof top bar. They play LOUD music on Th, F, S and anytime they have a special event. This past Tuesday, I thought Donna Summer was sitting in my living room, singing LOUD & clear. I am very glad that your song was a good one and that you now have peace in your neighborhood. People in general seem to have lost any sense of neighborliness!


magicsfive June 29, 2009 @ 8:53 p.m.

very nicely done, and a great ending. i'm glad everything worked out for all of you! xo


rickeysays June 30, 2009 @ 11:57 a.m.

This piece does a great job of highlighting the problem everyone should think about. This guy was getting bothered by other people's noise, but didn't stop to wonder if his was bothering anybody else. We all need to be more considerate. Ask yourself if what you do that makes noise might be bothering someone else. Not bothering you, but someone else. If the answer is yes, try to not do it. If we all did this, the world would be a more pleasant place.


jerome June 30, 2009 @ 2:40 p.m.



and aunti you can learn something here; why blame?homeless people, money talks people>>>you are PERHAPS a tad judgemental or as some might say bigoted. you are either part of the SOLUTION or part of the problem "People in general seem to have lost any sense of neighborliness!">>your quote are you perhaps one of those "people"?


David Dodd June 30, 2009 @ 3:16 p.m.

In Baja, there are no set laws regarding noise. That is to say, technically, you can turn up your stereo as loud as you wish. And it does get very noisy here at times, you learn to live with it. But the thing is, you also learn to try and not annoy your neighbors.

It's sort of like in the Old West, when everyone wore a gun. People were probably not too likely to stick a gun in someone's face because everyone had a gun. Here, everyone can make a lot of noise, so people tend to try and get along with one another, lest stereo wars break out.

I liked this story.


magicsfive July 1, 2009 @ 8:53 p.m.

haha i had a feeling this would be one of the winning blogs..well done!


bohemianopus July 2, 2009 @ 12:40 p.m.

This is WONDERFUL!!! I really enjoyed it. Congratulations on winning.

You make a person want to read more.



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