Monday, November 05, 2007

Why I Need To Hire A Sniper.

I understand the romantic allure of wind chimes if you live on the prairie. The winds come through and create random tones -- adding sounds to previous silence -- and letting you know that there's a whole world out there. It breaks up the solitude created by quiet. It lets you know that you're not alone. It's a message carried from the city to the fields by wind.

But in the city, there are few sounds more annoying.

Perhaps the cause is that when people own a place, they want to make it feel homey. Hanging wind chimes serves this affect, despite the fact that the environment is not conducive to this. They want to fulfill the image they had in their head when they dreamed of independence, regardless of the constraints placed on them by size or location of said home. Many people surround them, and may not want to hear wind chimes.

When I first moved to California I lived on the ground floor of an apartment complex. My upstairs neighbor had a balcony that hovered above mine and an entranceway porch that did the same. Both his balcony and entranceway were absolutely saturated with potted plants. My neighbor would water his plants so much that an avalanche of water would cascade down onto my place -- filling my patio three inches deep and creating a curtain of water that made it difficult to physically walk out of my front door. I had a virtual waterfall outside my door. The man above me did not have the environment to support the lifestyle he desired. He needed to move or drastically reduce the amount of plants he owned. A person that owns twenty acres of land in the middle of nowhere can set up a gun range outside if he so chooses. A person in a dense community cannot. Depending on where you live -- there are constraints -- both physically and ethically. A goldfish grows in proportion to the size of its tank, and so must you.

I'm not sure if people are just spatially unaware or simply don't care. I hope it's not the latter. Clustered together like bees in a hive, we are acutely affected by one another.

Two weeks ago, a neighbor across the alley hung a cluster of green ceramic leaves on their third story balcony. The wind chimes make horrifically chaotic chatter. When the breeze picks up, it sounds like someone throwing a dozen xylophones down a stairwell.

Is this person unaware of how sound travels, or do they think that the unpleasant clinging is confined only to their balcony? I can deal with the infrequent tones of simple silver tubes hanging, where they rarely touch one another, but this cluster configuration of twenty ceramic pieces is constantly bumping into each other like rush-hour commuters in a Tokyo subway. In an urban area such as ours -- where we constantly hear traffic, car alarms, helicopters, and shopping carts rattling as they're pushed by homeless people down our alley -- why on earth would you want to add extra noise pollution? Doesn't common decency play a part? The fact that they don't care may bother me more than the noise itself.

I can't begin to describe how annoying or distracting they are. For this reason, I need to hire a sniper. When the wind dies, I'd like him to quickly break every green ceramic leaf with a speedy bullet. Hopefully the sound of gunfire will make my neighbors move to the prairie, where they already seem to think they live.

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