Tuesday, September 27, 2005
sleep, the neighborhood, and fuck
I think I have a pretty high tolerance for such things, but enough is enough.
At 4:30 this morning I was jolted out of bed by a banshee-like shriek. The noise appeared to be coming from my air conditioner, and it sounded like the goddamn thing was letting out one last wail before it exploded right in the fucking window. Groggy but surprisingly spry, I darted out of bed over to the AC to shut it off, hoping to prevent a major catastrophe. I turned it off, but was not able to relax. The noise remained.
A look out the window proved that the unconscionably loud noise was not coming from my air conditioner, but rather from a hose, coming from truck, snaking into the basement of the Italian restaurant I live next door to. Apparently, the restaurant needed some work done, so they called in Jenny Exhaust System Services to do the job. At 4:30 in the morning. On a Tuesday.
Over the next hour, I am surprised that a homicide did not occur. First, I should try to further describe to you the nature of the noise. I've already used the words shrieking and wailing. I would also add to that list shrill, screeching, piercing, and and it doesn't stop soon I'm going to start ripping my fingernails out. If the drills that put together the carny stands for the San Gennaro Festival sounded like dentist drills, the exhaust hose outside the restaurant sounded like a saliva sucker times roughly 15,000.
What was worse was its intermittence. Instead of a steady, loud, lasting commotion, the hose would suck for thirty seconds, then break for forty. Then it would suck for ten, break for ten. Not only that, there would sometimes be long stretches of silence, long enough that I'd start thinking, "OH YES! The good Lord has come to the rescue and the noise has stopped! It's still only 4:57 - I can still get a solid three hours of sleep!" But after four minutes of gorgeous comforting silence, that fucking hose would start up and shriek again. It was heartbreaking.
When I first looked at the window just after 4:30, all was dark. The buildings around me were unlit, and the only people on the streets were the ancient Chinese ladies carrying bags of who-knows-what from whatever store is open in Chinatown before 5am (it's kinda eerie and dreamlike almost; these old women, waddling around in the pre-dawn hours carrying heavy looking neon orange and bright pink bags, coming from wherever, going to wherever. If I were high, it might freak me out more than a little bit).
When I checked out of the window again, this time at almost 5am, EVERY single apartment in my neighboring buildings had at least one light on. These assholes had woken the entire neighborhood. This gave me only a small amount of succor, knowing that I was not alone in my suffering. But more importantly, I thought, "You know, if I went down there and murdered these guys right now, the only witnesses would be the people they're keeping up with their racket. I could probably get away with it. I haven't murdered someone in like three years, but it's like riding a bicycle: once you go black, you never go back." Ultimately I decided against killing them, because that would require me putting on pants and actually walking outside (it was chilly out this morning).
The noise stopped just after 5:30, but by that point the damage was done. Despite trying, I was filled with a boiling rage and so could not fall back asleep. I started my day. At 5:30am. Sweet.
But I'll tell you what: I am done. D-O-N-E. Little Italy/Chinatown STINKS. I spent a good part of the morning looking at apartments on craigslist, because I can't do this anymore (of course, I'm not going to move, but looking made me happy). The three reasons ChiLita is terrible:
1) The sounds. Every two weeks some lame-ass motorcycle gang (guys, motorcycles gangs were cool in the '60's - let it go) will descend upon Little Italy to a) eat and b) rev their engines for four solid hours. We get it - you guys are awesome. Sweet bikes that you ride. I stopped riding my bike when I was 14 and actually accepted the fact that I have a tiny penis. But if you guys wanna hang out with a bunch of hairy guys and overweight chicks and rev your engines to prove you are alpha males, that's cool. But I just want to tell you that everyone knows you're insecure about your sexuality and have a tiny penis. Just letting you know.
(And please don't kick my ass)
The motorcycle madness meshes well with the general commotion of yelling waiters, gawking tourists, and very angry Chinese people yapping at each other. I imagine these Chinese people are saying to each other:
Chinese Woman: "Where is that fish head I bought this morning? Did you eat it?"
Chinese Man: "I don't know what you are talking about. I've been outside loitering and smoking thin cigarettes all day."
Chinese Woman: "I know that you ate it! I was up at 3:30 this morning to buy the best fish head and you ate it! I wanted to prepare a special meal tonight so that I could stink up everything in a 100 foot radius for a week! You are so insensitive!"
Chinese Man: [smokes thin cigarette, loiters]
Did I also mention that I live above a restaurant in which someone bozo plays music? Yeah, he does the same five songs, every hour, on the hour, about four to six times a night. EVERY DAY. Now whenever I hear "New York, New York", "Sweet Caroline", or "I Can't Help (Falling In Love With You)", I have an involuntary spasm that causes me to reach for the nearest sharp object and drive it into something fleshy (my right thigh looks like a cheese grater).
2) The smells. Living in Little Italy, you'd think I'd be treated to some delightful smells: chicken parm baking in the oven, homemade sauce simmering on a stove, and cheese, cheese, and more cheese melting on just about everything.
You know what smell I have instead? Grease. Anyone who ever worked in a bar or restaurant can identify that "I've been standing over a fryer cooking buffalo wings for the past six hours" scent, which blankets a six block radius of my neighborhood 24-7. Nothing like going to work at 9am, walking past one of your twenty-eight local Chinese restaurants, and retching because that rank smell of fried oil is too much to handle at such an early hour, even for a fat fuck like me.
And let's not forget the fish...Oh the fish. But let's lump that under...
3) The sights. If you walk down Mott Street, just around the corner from my apartment, you can buy any type of fish you want. Also - and I don't know if you're interested in this, but I'll throw it out there anyway - you can buy any sort of inside out fish or fish head you want, too (I hear that fish guts go perfectly with vegetables that I've never seen before I moved to Chinatown/Little Italy).
And what happens when the markets close in Chinatown? The trash comes out. I'm not bothered by trash. But what I am bothered by are crates of stale produce left on the streets to rot before disappearing a few days later, but not before turning every color of the rainbow and leaking fluorescent liquid onto the sidewalks and into the streets. NYC's Chinatown: Come for the fish guts, stay for the rotten produce.
If you like the show "Growing Up Gotti", you're in luck. On the Little Italy side of ChiLita, you can see the full range of "Italian Douche", from children who look ready to punch you in the balls to old men who will fondle your girlfriend when you're not looking. Such are the attractions of Little Italy.
So I'm done. This lease can't end soon enough. I can't wait to pay $2400 a month for a tiny apartment on some tree-lined block in the West Village. I'm sure I'll love living there, until the good people at Chase Bank show up at my apartment with pipes and chains to "collect".
My day, in case you can't tell, is ruined. Not only did I wake up early, but I didn't fall asleep until almost 2am last night because I've been stressed out, seeing as I'm kinda unemployed starting Monday (more on this later). All day long I've been sitting in my office, growling. And I will continue to do that until 5:30pm, when I will hop a cab home, drink some bourbon and milk, take a few Xanax, and sleep for 17 straight hours.
Until then, have a good day. Now back to growling.