Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are you kidding me?

In 1998 the City towed my bus to the impound lot. It really irritated me. It was January 1998. A sloppy January. The snow from December was melting. All of my shit was crammed in my VW bus parked in NE Mpls. I was staying next door with three Catholics and a Russian Orthodox guy.

It had been there for a couple weeks, the brakes rusted, the accelerator cable rusted, and the bungee cord I once used to keep it from jumping out of fourth gear- cracked from the Minnesota winter. It was loaded with my books. My skis. My camping equipment. My rusted tools. A friend and I towed the bus from Prospect Park with a chain, while she was in Colorado for Christmas with the family. I’m not sure why she bought two tickets for that trip. She came back to a real mess, but not to me. Painful. Next time I’ll use a tow rope instead of a chain.

When I found out, I hated that fucker for having it towed. And I let him know it. He said his sisters didn’t have anywhere to park. Said they were coming into town tomorrow to go to their mother’s funeral. I was drunk. Probably finished my first bottle of wine by the time I confronted him in his front yard. He was home from work. A machinist. A union guy. A stocky fucker too, but old. He seemed really old. A pissed off drunk asshole and a pissed off old asshole yelling at each other in Northeast for an hour and a half on a Wednesday night in the January thaw. There’s a first time for everything. Right?

I didn’t realize at the time what it meant to have some jackass’s piece of shit parked in front of your house. That bus contained everything I owned, except my books for the current semester, several changes of clothes, my suit, and tie or two. After another bottle of wine for me and more than a couple PBRs for him, I slathered away apologetically. I had a new respect my neighbor, for homeownership, and for common courtesy. It took me four trips to the impound lot to unload the bus. After paying $200 for the ticket and towing fee, I left the bus parked in a no man’s land somewhere in Harrison.

Some of my neighbors think I’m racist because I have the city tow abandoned pieces of shit from our block. The same neighbors don’t know that I love living here. We need to talk. Seriously. They didn’t like it when we built our fence. They didn’t say anything but I knew it. We like the fence. It keeps our dogs in, and keeps other dogs out. It also keeps some of our neighbors out. They think I don’t like black people near my house. We left two inches of space between the pickets, to open the fence up more… so as not to wall-off our backyard, and our neighbors.

I think some of my neighbors play their music too loud. I also think some of my neighbors really know how to cook. They’re the Miles Davises of barbeque, but they listen to the Arby’s Sauce of music- turned up REALLY FUCKING LOUD. Some of my neighbors break in to their friends’ and neighbors’ houses and take things. Like big screen TVs, Playstations, cash, and pot. Those are the black neighbors I don’t want near my house. Come to think of it, those are the white, brown, yellow, red, green, orange, and blue neighbors I don’t want near my house either.

What is it about living in Willard Hay that makes talking to your neighbors so difficult?


  1. Good Questions, Tact. {Can I call you Tact for short?}

    Personally I think some of the ponderings you bring up are centered around class more than race, but in our society we have race race race race race pounded into our heads every where we turn, from a very young age, that we sometimes over use it and misapply it.

    And then of course there is what I call "behaviorism". I will totally discriminate against you based on your behavior. Guess what, it's not a protected class. So if you want to wear your pants below your a** I will treat you different. If you drive a car that rattles and shakes from loud bass music, I will treat you and judge you differently. If you wave & nod as I pass by, or you have a smile and a kind word as you are grilling your miles davis ribs then we will get along well. No matter what class and race you are.

    Behavior trumps it all. It brings us together and it will quickly divide us. We should all acknowledge kind, decent behavior and call out bad behavior for what it is.

    It's authentic dialog like this around race and class that will help us learn and answer ponderings and ultimately give us solutions.

  2. To my fan club commenter, seriously, do you not know who NoMi Passenger is? Because I spelled it out yesterday on that other site. Pay attention and keep up dude!