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Saturday, February 10, 2007

please won't you beat my neighbor?

so one of the minor, tangential perks to owning a home is that you have no neighbors stomping around above you ... or complaining about your stomping from below. sweet. we've shared balconies with neighbors who smoked and found a way to exhale through walls and directly into our faces. we've had neighbors who needed to be told repeatedly not to blast music at 11 pm because our baby was sleeping directly on the other side of the wall and also their taste in music was crap.

so imagine our delight upon moving into a new home: no one upstairs! no one downstairs! no one directly on the other side of the wall! we could stomp and we could play music all the livelong day ... no one would bother us and we wouldn't bother anyone else.

such naive children we were.

from the first night in our new house, we could hear the couple next door SCREAMING at each other. every night. all the time.

on the second or third night in the house, i came home from work to find a boy, no older than 5, standing on the stoop, in the freezing cold in only his pyjamas. he looked at me, a total stranger, and said, "have you seen my mommy?" i said, "well, no, but i bet she's on her way home." he said, "i'm going to look for her." i said, "maybe you should go inside where it's warm, i bet she'll be home soon." and so he did.

a couple days after that, the boy's mother came by at 4 pm, still in her pyjamas. she creeped my wife's ass out, looking around our house, acting all high, wondering out loud how much she could sell her own place for--hell, i'll personally be their broker if they're considering a move. mrs nice guy thought she detected a little bruise above neighborlady's eye. oh for christ's sake.

a day or two after that they were fighting again and mrs nice guy distinctly heard the woman say/shout to her husband "WELL YOU'RE THE ONE WHO'S FUCKING HER!"

oh it gets more awesome. i was leaving the house a day or two later, with my kid. it was our monday together. i ran into adulterous wife-beating neighborman. he was standing outside having a little cigarette. it was 9 am. he looked at me and said, "man, i can't wait till my kids get out of the house, go to school, so i can smoke my head off. know what i mean?" i am pretty sure he didn't mean cigarettes. so i was all, umm, do you have most mondays off? he was like, "nah man, i'm a foreman and i don't have any fuckin' days off. except thursdays. no. tuesdays. yeah. wednesdays too." um, ok, i said. have a nice day smoking your head off even though you don't have mondays off and please don't ever talk to me again. then he asked me if i knew where he could get bootleg Xbox games because his "boy thinks they're fuckin' $60 frisbees." i said, alas, i did not but i would ask around. then as i started walking away he said something which i couldn't quite make out, but sounded like: "hey, want to get charged up?" i smiled, played deaf and waved, gesturing vaguely with the stroller that had my TODDLER in it. when i returned at around 12:30, he was still home -- he came to his door grumbling in his boxers as i was opening mine. oh crap! suddenly, i found myself frantically fumbling my keys and sobbing like some fleeing topless co-ed camp counselor about to be killed by jason voorhees in one of the friday the 13th movies.

the the very next day i returned from work only to find all of adulterous wife-beating druggie neighborman's clothes strewn across the sidewalk, his wife standing defiantly atop the heap with her hands on her hip. some hapless passerby cracked a joke: "throwing him out, eh?" she shot red laser beams out of her eyes and shouted "DAMN RIGHT I AM THROWING HIS ASS OUT. WE GOT THREE KIDS TOO. FUCK HIM!" the passerby was all, "oh. i was joking ... this is awkward ... guess i'll be on my way." and what did i do? i ducked my head and pretended like nothing unusual was happening all over my stoop-area--that where i come from people throw their adulterous wife-beating druggie spouses out by dumping the contents of their closet on the street in broad daylight while screaming obscenities all the time--and i went into my house desperately hoping that i wouldn't be caught on tape for next week's episode of "COPS: Your Classy Brooklyn Neighbor Edition." i snuck inside and listened as he came home, found his clothes on the sidewalk, and yelled at her. she yelled back. no audible evidence of violence going down, but i definitely found myself looking up the NYC domestic abuse hotline and calling a friend of mine with ties to Child Protective Services ... and carefully charting the rapid decline in the value of my once very expensive home.

the next day, we got the coup de grace: i came home from work just as some skinny teenager in a hoodie was slinking out my neighbor's house. nothing suspicious about that. i walked into my living room and picked up my child. the sitter says: "hi. your neighbor is dealing drugs out of his house." apparently several times throughout the day, cars had pulled up in front of the building and idled for just a few minutes as a shady-looking occupant darted in and then out.

ah, precisely what we were looking for in a place to raise our child. it's a wonderful day in the neighborhood, y'all. come visit. bring housewarming gifts. something homey like, you know, pepper spray.


Anonymous Kara said...


2/10/2007 4:52 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

[mouth hangs open]

2/10/2007 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. What next?

2/10/2007 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't the sellers have to disclose things like this?

2/10/2007 11:24 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

funny, anon 11:24, because it's our working hypothesis that this is exactly why the sellers decided to sell. and, no, i don't think it's one of the things they'd have to disclose. anyway, we're hoping for a speedy arrest/divorce/foreclosure to ease the neighbors into a new habitat.

2/10/2007 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Shalini said...

whoa, that sucks ass. I hope that an anonymous call to the narcotics division of the police will help or something.. that's horrible.

2/11/2007 12:47 AM  
Anonymous andrea said...

I'll call the narcotics division for you. This can't continue.
Drug dealing is for real.

2/11/2007 10:14 AM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

maybe we're overreacting. maybe he's an SAT tutor?

2/11/2007 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any kind of "neighborhood watch?" Or can you start one? What are the rest of your neighbors like. I would think you would ALL have a vested interest in chucking the bums out.

2/11/2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious - how long were the previous sellers in the house for? If they were there for a long time, they probably got used to it. The situation sucks - sorry you are going through this.

2/11/2007 1:23 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

geez. I am sorry? Is that the right thing to say. How terribly annoying.

2/11/2007 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of how long the sellers lived there, knowing you had a child they should have disclosed something!!!

2/12/2007 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where the fuck are you living? Damn.

Your Brooklyn Neighbor

2/12/2007 8:29 AM  
Anonymous lil said...

I lived in Southern California in a smallish town on the base of Big Bear mountain. Nice neighborhood, but some older kids where selling Meth out of their grandma's house across the street from ours. One day the cable guy was up on a pole hooking up our new cable when cops pulled up in our drive way and pulled out their guns and stared a shoot out with the meth house across the street. The poor cable guy was stuck up on the pole between all of this. When it ended, he left quickly and we had every pay channel ever imagined. NO CHARGE. Silver lining. There is always a silver lining. The meth lab burned the house down a year later. The grandma survived.

2/12/2007 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Your Neighbors said...

Hey MNG,

We'd appreciate it if you didn't air our "dirty laundry" in public. We don't talk about your daughter's "poopy diapers" on our blog.

2/12/2007 4:00 PM  
Anonymous sallyacious said...

Gaaaah! And I thought the little old lady who walked a block to our yard every day to let her dog poop there rather in her own where she'd have to clean it up was a problem.

Best of luck with a fast and pain-free resolution to the drug-dealing neighbors.

2/12/2007 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 7:17 - the real estate game is nyc is to NOT reveal anything when selling a place. that's why it is up to the buyer to do his/her due diligence. unfortunately we find out these things when it's too late. when we bought our place i knocked on next door neighbor's doors to say hi and to feel out the situation. there is nothing worse than finding your dream home only to discover the people next door will make your life a living hell. i sincerely hope things change for MNG. i have a feeling it will take some time though. good luck to you, friend.

2/12/2007 4:46 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

my bad, les voisins. how about this: i'll refrain from airing your laundry if you guys refrain from dumping it all over my sidewalk. deal?

2/12/2007 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Poster Here: I'm curious. Why can't MNG write about his neighbors here? Afraid of lowering your property value? This is the trouble with this 'hood -- nobody wants to band together as a community and make things better. I think MNG is *trying* to do that.

2/12/2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

First house story. West side was a fat middle age bald guy. Didn't think much of it. Then I started noticing a lot of traffic in and out of the house. Sure enough, drug dealer. Talked to a guy on force. He said, oh yeah, small time dealer. Busted him two or three times. Not a big enough dealer to go away for very long. They started sending a cop car down the street a couple of times per day. That kept a lid on things. Two years, two very long years. He finally screwed up and missed enough house payments for the bank to foreclose. Nice guy bought the place, he ended up having to gut it to fix the damage. Then he couldn't get his money out of it and had to rent it. Always had a good relationship with him. It took him about another year to find a renter who was worth while. Nice folks. Bottom line, idiots like these always screw up eventually. Things will get better.

2/12/2007 9:18 PM  
Anonymous damian said...

i've been sitting here trying to come up with a few options of what i would realistically do in your situation, rather than just shooting off a glib comment...i hope they help - you know you can take 'em or leave them...

1 - anonymously contact the police and run the situation 'hypothetically' past them to find out what would happen if you made a complaint that led to a raid, and what would happen afterwards. note the word "would" happen rather than "could" happen - i hope you get an old cop, not a new cop.
2 - change all of your locks and beef up security a little.
3 - bump into the neighbours on the other side of them, or across the road in the hopes of in the near future bringing it up with them and getting a little history on the dealer's activities.
4 - report suspected spousal abuse or child abuse when it happens. i'd hate myself if i just let it go. hope that he suspects one of the other nearby neighbours and dosen't immediately conclude that it was you who called the police.
5 - make the back yard the most attractive place for your kids, as opposed to the front yard.

that's it. it would be a tough situation to be in, no doubt. i wish you the best of luck...


2/12/2007 9:30 PM  
Anonymous John Rothschild said...

To add to Damien's list:

1. Property Shark the your property and your jerk neighbor's property. This gets you information on how long the people who sold you your house lived there and whether or not you neighbors own their house and for how long.

2. Whether or not neighbors own the property start looking for building code and health violations. I'm assuming there's garbage issues and rats. Next there's the issue of cable tapping. The list WILL be long and there are MANY city agencies that would be interested.

3. Search the neighbors names on and also go to your local police agency and county to search for any police records. You can also order this online but it may not be up to date. You want to know their criminal/civil court history. Megan's Law disclosure which pertains to sexual predators is also important here.

4. You need to get police reports for any calls concerning you neighbors. If there was a history of such calls for drugs/violence/etc.

5. Check your sales agreement. Many of them contain a clause that makes a demand on the seller to disclose "adverse conditions."

6. If these are renters, then the owners of the property have legal and financial responsibility. See you real estate lawyer about this course of action.

I agree with Ted that people like these screw up eventually but it's nice if the trash can be removed sooner than later.

2/12/2007 10:43 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

thanks ted and damian -- really great advice. i have to admit that i am basically from the "let them hang themselves" school of thought. eventually they'll fuck up badly enough not to require my intervention. if they didn't have kids it would be one thing, but i don't feel the need to actively be getting involved in someone else's family routine, such as it is -- unless i know for a fact that those kids are in immediate trouble. it's a really tough call.

2/12/2007 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

hey, mng,

good god. what a ton to deal with! i'm with you on the ambiguity and complexity; my only thing, though, is i would have called the fuzz the minute i saw the five-year-old outside in pajamas, alone. kid's not safe. you can call anonymously and just leave a tip. the kid deserves the help, and, man, would i feel like shit if something happened to him in that instance. you know?

2/13/2007 5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MNG, you can't complain about the situation with its very real child abuse/neglect issues and then say you want to let them hang themselves. this is your neighborhood, this is your child's home, your wife's home, YOUR home. this is important stuff. do something, man. anything.

2/13/2007 11:18 AM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

i hear you anon 11:18, and that's my instinct ... but i don't have anything concrete to tell any sort of authority figure. other than the fighting, which is only shouting as far as i can tell, i don't have tangible proof of anything. the kid standing outside was weird, but the lights were on in the house, the door was open and dad was probably in there. i am not making excuses, trust me i am actively looking for a reason to call someone (and i probably should have on the night of the clothes-on-stoop), but right now i don't have anything to report other than my suspicions. bottom line: i have no idea what's really going on behind their closed doors.

2/13/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous samantha jo campen said...

I just ran upstairs to kiss my neighbors. I even slipped them some tongue.

2/13/2007 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, MNG. didn't mean to bust your balls. i wish you a speedy remedy of the situation. good luck.

2/14/2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

How did I miss this post???? I would've missed this most awesome line: "i found myself frantically fumbling my keys and sobbing like some fleeing topless co-ed camp counselor about to be killed by jason voorhees in one of the friday the 13th movies."

And, to think I was upset that our next door neighbors are a bit aloof.

2/23/2007 8:41 PM  
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4/08/2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger pedro velasquez said...

When basketball Rogers died several years ago, he had millions of "neighbors" all over the world and, although he was quite famous, he never thought of himself as a TV star. He said, "I always thought I was a neighbor who just came in for a visit." Mr. Rogers knew what it meant to be a good neighbor. One day, sportsbook a lawyer asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life. When Jesus asked him what God's Law said, the lawyer answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus answered, "You are right. Do this and you will live." But the man wanted to make himself look good, so he asked Jesus another question. march madness "Who is my neighbor?" he asked. To answer this question, Jesus told a story about a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They beat him, took his money, stripped him of his clothes, and left him beside the road to die.

4/16/2010 3:54 PM  

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