Thursday, June 11, 2015
I'm not sure I've complained here on the old a moon, worn as if it had been a shell about the McMansions going up in my neighborhood. What happens is that one day you wake up to hear enormous groaning sounds and crashes, look out your back door and see an 80-year old perfectly respectable cottage flattened. This can happen in under two hours, as can the knocking down of equally as old and perfectly healthy sycamore trees. What goes up in their place are gigantic modern dwellings that might fit into a wooded landscape but look preposterous on the postage stamp lots. The fact that these McMansions dwarf the houses around them, have balconies that allow the owners to peer down into our humble backyards and not onto sweeping ocean vistas or have interiors that quite emphatically mimic Ikea display rooms doesn't prevent people from coming in and spending upwards of $2.9 million on them. There's one going up just behind my house right this very moment, and nearly every morning when I open the back door to let my dog out, I am literally assailed by the sounds of the workers' music. They play the music loud enough to muffle the sounds of their drills and hammers and all manner of construction noise, so you can imagine how loud that must be. I have a neighbor who lives right next door to them who has three little children, one a baby not a year old. We have commiserated over the music for months. No stranger to discrimination, as an Orthodox Jew she was very sensitive to what she called the workers' culture and felt uncomfortable asking them to turn down their -- I'll be blunt -- mariachi music. Let's face it. Most of the construction work in this city is done by men of Latin origin, and when they work these long, brutal hours putting up McMansions, they listen to Latin radio. I actually like mariachi music but not at 7:00 in the morning and onward for eight hours. If Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Otis Redding and the Byrds were standing on the top floor playing music for eight hours, I'd probably go insane as well, but there's something particularly hellish for me about the incessant buoyancy and happiness of mariachi music untempered by, let's say, something mournful or blue.
Oliver has gone out with his megaphone and yelled at them to turn it down, to no avail. I've walked around the corner and given them my best uni-brow glare, but workers on McMansions could give a damn about women and their issues. I've thought about running around and doing what Gomer Pyle called a citizen's arrest*, but mostly I've just stewed in my own house.
This morning, I opened my bleary eyes to hear it reverberating even over the usual crows who cackle so loudly some mornings that I fantasize about shotguns. I emailed my neighbor with the subject line Have you made a pitcher of margaritas, yet? and she replied that she is thrilled to have my baby continue sleeping in a closet. Dark humor is the great uniter and binds me to people tighter even than blood. I imagine my neighbor and I, armed with shotguns, could bring down some crows and blow out some boomboxes as well. This morning, she gave me the number of a police officer in our neighborhood who she said is very personable and would respond if I called. It sounded very Andy Griffiithish (I mean, this is LA!), and I won't mince words but admit that I'm not exactly a law enforcement fan. There's something about all those mirrored sunglasses and the knee-high shiny black boots that give me the creeps, but I digress. I made the call.
Reader, Barney Fife (that's what I'll call him) told me he'd look into it and get back to me. An hour or so later, I realized that all I heard was the wind through the palms, the tinkle of the chimes on my porch and the chittering of the insane squirrels that romp on the wires that criss-cross the air. There might have been just the faintest sound of a leaf blower somewhere and the whir of a helicopter because it wouldn't be Los Angeles without that constant drone,but otherwise -- silence. And Officer Fife had actually left me a message that he'd stopped by and asked the workers to turn down or off their music.
Next thing you know, I'm going to be bringing brownies round to the police station and a pitcher of margaritas to the workers at the McMansion.
*Just in case you forgot about it: