Drunken screams and roaring bikes: Uptown noise overwhelms

Roxanne Sadovsky

Zaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhtatingtingtingtingrollwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! I’m still working on the translation, but I’m a little rusty in speaking street. I don’t quite know how to conjugate honking.

If this – or any combination of the above – sounds familiar, you have likely gone to a romp at the Bedlam or you live in Uptown. If the latter is the case, as it is for me, you probably are awakened at least three times per night by the following: cars, bottles, drunks or folks who go to romps at the Bedlam.

Will someone please explain to me why it has to be so loud in Uptown?

Can someone explain the screeching tires? Let’s start with those. I drive a lot. I don’t think I have ever screeched my tires. In fact, I don’t know what this would entail, should I ever get the craving, nor do I know what it would say about my personality if I did. I have heard of engine-revving machismo in relation to testosterone, but I don’t understand who you are seducing at 3 a.m. Secondly, where are you headed in such a hurry at this hour?

With virtually no traffic on the streets, what is making you come to a screaming halt just beneath my window? Maybe in rush hour traffic I could understand this behavior.

Whatever the reason, all of this begins around 1 a.m. and lasts well into the morning, becomingly increasingly exaggerated as the moon rises. Often it resembles one of those old-fashioned movie sets that accompany interpersonal dramas occurring in the front seat of the car before it goes over the cliff or loses its brakes.

Then there’s the honking. I don’t know if people know this, but honking your horn will not create any less of a line to get onto the ramp. Nor will it inspire folks who are determined to park for $10 a minute to change their minds and park on the street instead of blocking traffic. The only thing honking will do for you at this point is either throw some poor blared-upon cyclist off his pony or induce screaming profanity. Basically, it has almost the same effect as your car alarm, which, by the way, does not compliment my folk music collection well. What do you honestly expect to happen when that thing goes off? While you are upstairs doing shots of Everclear, Mr. Happy Thief is thanking you for the Honda’s siren song that will enable him to make off with your leather jacket unnoticed.

Let’s talk about the screaming. I have screamed before. I know the curative power of a good hoot and holler. However, exactly who is it you are telling to frock off at midnight on a Tuesday? If it’s the folks who live in my apartment, we get the message, thank you very much. If it’s the bouncer who kicked you out of the Uptowner, could you take it in the parking lot next time? And for god’s sake, stop blaming the alcohol.

Of course I understand being drunk. I understand being drunk and screaming; I too, have been 20 and angry. Most of the time, I take that crap to therapy or to the bars. Yet I could never bring myself to scream in a residential neighborhood at the top of my lungs.

Of course motorcycles can be cool, but I prefer them midday when the rest of the fume chorus is in full swing. And is it just me, or have bikes gotten louder? I’m talking loud as in something-abducted-my-soul loud. In Europe, I assume bikes are loud because they lack mufflers. But we have those here. What does that sound accomplish that gunfire won’t? Whatever the trend du jour, do these hog-hounds have to ride those untamed swine down my block before the paper has been delivered? Can you at least wait until you hit the freeway before shifting to that one gear that sounds like a crow got stuck in the tailpipe? Much obliged.

All of this is just the warm-up band. However, I think you can see where I am going with this. It’s clear that I can also discuss the rabid dogs you choose to walk at 4 a.m. or the bad-mood music you need to pump out of your low-rider just in case any of us who enjoy sleeping wonder what we are missing.

Once the bikes have headed south, I am awakened in the early morning by a noise that at first sounds like a microwave oven. Because my subconscious is working so hard to keep me asleep, it attempts to mythologize this noise by incorporating it into my dream, albeit the boring dream about pulling the reheated baked potato out of the microwave. However, once I realize the noise continues even after I pull the potato out and eat it, I wake up and remember it’s the first of the 10 trucks that begin morning deliveries and pickups. The beeping sound is, of course, the big rig backing up. Then before it moves on to idling, it has to open and close its hatch a few hundred times and do something exasperating with its brakes before repeating the entire process. If I understand the machinery, the truck ought to be backed into my lobby by the time it stops beeping, but I really have no explanation for why it isn’t. In any case, it translates over here as a very tired and overworked yak.

Even worse than that, though, is the recycling. I understand the town’s need for keeping up with the politically correct movement; if you’re going to drink bottled beer, by god, suffer the consequence and give the poor bottle a shot at coming back as a Coke. However, what’s the rest of that racket once the bottles have been poured out of the bins and onto their next cycle of evolution? I can keep up with the bottles crashing once, but eventually it starts to sound like a steel drum punk-grunge band is going through a compressor. It’s as though part of the process involves transporting the bottles back and forth as though they are mixers. Just what exactly is the thought process? “Well, okay! They fit in the truck! Let’s see if they can fit back into the bins!”

I admit I am an older student who ignorantly chose to live amidst Uptown’s drunken crossroads. However, this still doesn’t justify the noise. Perhaps few of us know that loud noise – next to fear of falling and closed spaces – is among the innate human fears. Perhaps it does not occur to the horn-blowers that this fear operates out of a need to survive and is nothing more than an organism protecting itself against perceived danger. In other words, sleep does not come easily when bottle rockets are blowing up the night outside of my window.

One may also argue that only certain types live in Uptown and that we get what we deserve. Heck, we don’t deserve a noise ordinance if we are stumbling distance from intoxication. Sure, only two blocks west it is illegal to idle your engine or turn left from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., but over here feel free to exploit my lower income bracket.

I am not saying I don’t enjoy modern conveniences. I fly home. I like to drive and listen to Afrocelt really loud with the windows open. I enjoy winding the pastured back roads on a motorcycle, especially when I am in love in mid-July. I also drink Bud in a bottle. I’m just saying that some of us would really appreciate if you took these indulgences a little bit further away from our bedroom. If we want to hear fireworks, there are better ways.


Roxanne Sadovsky’s biweekly column appears Thursdays. She welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]