Tag Archives: noise

Pro Tip: Don’t Move Above a Bar

13 Jul

Oh, people, when will you learn that you live in a city? In a shared space? In a location that has (gasp!) noise? And although 311 and the police do exist, there is a time to make a complaint – when construction starts at 6:30am instead of the allowed 7am – and a time to not make a complaint – when you move above a bar and then get mad that it’s loud. Because the thing about it is that there are two competing factors in this equation

  • You
  • The bar

And in order to distinguish which of those two factors should be deemed the winner in a battle over noise levels we have to look at a few things

  • Was the bar there before you?
  • Do you miss the stars and the quiet and the no fights at 4 in the morning in front of your fancy bagel shop?
  • Are you a dick who (a) doesn’t want anyone to have fun and (b) doesn’t want bartenders and servers to make money?

If you answered yes to question one, then you should probably just go back from whence you came. Or at the very least realize that you made a grave error and move to any one of the thousands of apartments that exist that are NOT located right above, or right next to, a bar or club. I know, I know, real estate is expensive and you got a deal on your spot. But I am going to give you one guess as to why exactly you got that deal. Think about it. Think.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

That’s right. Because you moved above or next to a bar and that apartment is hard to fill because most people don’t want to hear the bass of some half blown-out speakers when they are trying to go to sleep or woo their partner. I mean, think about it this way: I am a bartender, have been for years, and I would never – and I mean never – move above or next to a bar. Ideally, I would like to not even be on the same block as a bar what with all the cigarette smoker-chatters and the cabbies honking their horns until all hours. It’s just common sense, really. So now, a story!

For years and years I worked at this one bar. Within the first two years of my working there we resigned for another 10 year lease. So, it would follow, that we had already been there for 10 years. And we were located on a busy avenue full of trucks, buses, people and skinned animal corpses moved from van to store in creepy looking grocery carts (don’t ask). Basically there was noise all the time and we were the least of it. All that being said, if you were in the market for sleep in a quiet environment and you didn’t want to shell out money for a noise machine, this was probably not the place for you. But some people don’t use their powers of deductive reasoning. Some people just say,

whatever, I want to live in this apartment and so I will mold the environment to me! Take that, all you people who lived and worked here before! Take that “city who never sleeps.” Never sleeps my ass! WE ALL MUST SLEEP AND WE MUST SLEEP IN ACCORDANCE WITH MY NORMALIZED SCHEDULE!

I bet you can already tell how this is going to go. Basically this mother fucker moved into the second floor, one floor above a bar that had been in that location for over a decade at that point, and complained every single day. Every day! And it wasn’t even at like 11 or 12 when he was taking his lame ass to bed. He would complain at 5. Before he even went into his fucking apartment. He would come home from the gym and just waltz into the bar and in his most insufferable French accent would say

Excuse me but eet ees too loud.

And I would say

It’s 5pm. There are like 12 people in here. And you haven’t even gone upstairs yet.

And then he would waltz back out and up to his apartment and then

RING RING RING

The phone would ring and I would answer it, knowing exactly what was about to happen and he would be all

I am eeenside my apartment now and eeet eees too loud!

And I would hang up on him and turn up the music because I am an asshole. But I mean, really?! Ugh he was the worst and I mean that in an entirely non-hyperbolic way. If I had to make a list of The Worst he would top it. And I don’t mean like The Worst Ever in the World, I just mean The Worst in terms of dickhead foreigners who think they are going to get the beauty and quiet of the South of France on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Brooklyn. PAH-lease.

Anyway, the reason that I write about this now, all these years later, is that it is happening again only this time at a different bar! Some anonymous dick keeps calling the cops on us because the music is too loud. So this is what I have to say:

Yo, dude (or lady), you moved here. You made a choice. As far as I can guess no one put a gun to your head and was all “move to this place where you will never sleep ever because there are people there drinking and having fun and they all hate you” (which, by the way, we do because you are a pain in the fucking ass). But really, that conversation never happened.

But, like, beyond that I am sorry that you aren’t getting good, quality sleep. I really am. But do you know who else isn’t getting good quality sleep? Me. And do you know why? Because I serve drinks until 4 in the morning on weekends and get woken up every single day at 7 (except Sunday) by construction noises. Those noises came after me. I was here first. But there is nothing I can do about it. And I recognize that I made the choice to go into the line of work that I am in. And I recognize that there is a normal schedule that most people have and then there is the schedule that I have. And that schedule is not normal. And so I just have to deal with the fact that I live in a city, another thing that I chose. And I have to understand that there are lots of people who also live here who have competing interests and opposite hours and they have just as much of a right to go about their lives as I do. So, please, think about all that before you move somewhere. And realize that by you complaining about the noise, we are having to make ridiculous accommodations that result in making our bar less fun and that means less money for us. And that matters. Because this is our livelihood.

So, honestly, when I start complaining about the beeping of your child’s school bus and the cab that picks you up for your corporate job at 6am, then we can talk. But I’m never going to complain about those things. Because I am a reasonable human. So just shut the fuck up and move. I hear there are some really quiet towns in New Jersey.*

*No offense, New Jersey, I love you!

 

An Open Letter to a Developer

16 Oct

Dear Ryan Pedram,

Hi, my name is Rebekah and I live down the block from the luxury condominiums you are currently constructing. Let me tell you a little bit about myself and my street. I have lived on this block for over 10 years now. Even still, even with all these young kids from where ever they are coming from moving into Brooklyn in droves every month and saying they are “from” here, I don’t think I can actually call myself a New Yorker. It never feels as though I have been here quite long enough to call this city my own without feeling like an impostor. Even still, I love my block and it is more my home than probably anywhere else. Despite what people say about the anonymity and lack of community here in New York, I know my neighbors if not by name then certainly by face. I wave at them and chat with them when I go about my day and they notice when I leave on some adventure or other for an extended period of time; they notice when they haven’t seen me running in a while; they just notice. Well, those who are left do, anyway. See, my block has changed quite a bit in the past few years. It seems like every few months one of those familiar faces is forced to sell their property under the pressure of constantly rising property taxes and in response to the threats made by developers like you.

Now listen, I am not going to sit here and pretend like my arrival over 10 years ago wasn’t a canary in the mine shaft to some of the people who have lived here for decades, generations, even. When young, white kids start moving in, you know shit is about to change. I did my best to respect the place I was moving to, the neighborhood that existed before my arrival. I never once acted, like so many newcomers do, as though I “discovered” something. Talk about some language reminiscent of colonialism, ya know? I know now that my young, privileged face read as an upcoming rent hike to those that lived here then. Like the beginning of the end. Like gentrification (which it was). To those people, I apologize. Seriously. I know it doesn’t make it better but I am truly sorry. Even with what followed: all the new faces, the new bars, the coffee shops, the thrift stores, the bike shops, the bike shops, the bike shops — all the trappings of Hipster New York that have made Brooklyn a brand and paved the way for a Banana Republic to open on Fulton Mall (like, what?!) — this neighborhood has, in many ways, remained itself: low key and unassuming. A lot of the people on my block have managed to hold on.

But now the new New York that has been plaguing neighborhoods all over the city, but most notably Brooklyn, has arrived here. (Thank you for that, Bloomberg.) And you are responsible for the building currently going up on my block. This past spring and summer, men in suits descended on my street, trying to buy up whatever buildings and lots they could. A house that had gone down during Sandy, one which was never cleared away, suddenly looked like dollar signs. Buildings with residents — houses where people lived — were condemned by the city and those people forced out to look for new housing in a place where rent prices seem to climb by the second. Then those houses were leveled. And then silence. Until this past week.

This week has been horrible. I, like many people I know, live an off-schedule. I am a bartender and a writer. I keep odd hours and I work from the table in my (usually relatively quiet) kitchen. I understand that I cannot expect the world to kowtow to my abnormality. But the construction has made my home absolutely uninhabitable. Noise I can handle. I live in New York and share this space with millions of people and I understand what that entails. If I wanted pitch black nights with stars and crickets and to be awoken by birds in the morning, I would move to the country. But Mr. Pedram, everything is shaking. The work your contractors are doing up the block, which, by the way, they said they would be done with by 6pm on Tuesday when I first spoke with them (it is currently Friday at noon), is causing things to fall off my refrigerator, my coffee to dance across the table, my cats to cower, fur standing straight up, under the sofa for hours. When I called you on the phone just now you said that the Department of Buildings had been called to the site 2 dozen times and that this portion of the work would be completed in 45 minutes. As if the fact that you aren’t breaking any of their bullshit regulations should offer me some solace. I mean, I know this is crazy but how about you offer us some compensation? I am paying rent on a space I cannot be in. You stand to make millions and millions of dollars. Do the math.

I am not going to act as though my experience has been any different from, worse than even, the hundreds of thousands, hell, millions of New Yorkers who have watched as their neighborhoods become unrecognizable, as the homes they’ve rented for years become unaffordable, as the mom-and-pop shops they have frequented close and make way for banks and pharmacies, banks and pharmacies, more banks and more pharmacies. And I know, it is a lot worse for other people. My roommates and I are still able to afford our apartment, for now. And I am so incredibly thankful for that. But when those starry-eyed newcomers with their strollers hogging the sidewalks, their cars taking our parking spaces, their money closing our neighborhood businesses arrive, how long do the rest of us have? They will have “discovered” this neighborhood that existed for so long before them and before me and it will start to look like everywhere else.

I know that it is all money to you. But just for a second, can you acknowledge that people live here? More than that, even. Acknowledge that people have lives here. Lives that they have worked hard to establish. Lives that deserve better than apartments that shake because you need to make way for the new hip neighborhood. Because after you do that, after you throw up this shottily-constructed building that, if the other new construction in this neighborhood is any indication, will begin falling apart within 3 years, you will move onto the next thing, pockets lined with cash. And those of us who live here now, probably won’t be able to afford it anymore. And where do we go? Where do any of us go? Where do all of the people — in Crown Heights, Long Island City, Harlem, East New York, Astoria, Mott Haven — go? And how much longer can this really go on? How many more newcomers with money can there be?

I’m sure you don’t have the answers any more than I do. And I am not going to act as though this is something only affecting me and the neighborhood I live in. I know this has been going on for years, that I am lucky to have avoided it so long, that other people, specifically people of color, have it worse. I know that I am partially to blame. But fuck, man. My house is shaking and the only thing I have to look ahead to is an ugly new building going up on my block. Assuming I can still afford to live here.

So thank you for taking the time to answer my phone calls today, for speaking with the contractors about my complaints, and for saying that you “understand and feel for what I am going through.” Thank you, in short, for attempting to placate me. But just so you know, I think you, and all the people doing what you are doing in the name of personal enrichment, are assholes. I think you are all destroying this city. This city that gets slightly less awesome with every single personality-less building that clutters the skyline. And by the way, it has been more than 45 minutes and my house is still shaking.

Sincerely,

Rebekah