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For the past four years, I’ve lived on York Avenue in the 80s across from what has to be one of the world's most obnoxious bridge-and-tunnel clubs.
My building is a small five-story walkup, and my rented apartment, like everyone else’s, spans the entire length of the building, meaning our bedroom windows face the avenue. On Friday and Saturday nights from around 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., herds of people pile onto the sidewalk smoking and yelling. Sometimes they arrive in huge party buses from Westchester or, worse, New Jersey, for special events (KY Jelly Wrestling anyone?) and the buses keep their motors running loudly under my window (where there is a bus stop) all night.
At least two or three times a month there is some sort of incident at the club where some drunken idiot beats up his doppelganger in the middle of the street. That sort of stuff usually starts after midnight, and for some reason they are usually shirtless.
When I see the community board notices up – they post them on my front door at times—they always reference the countless neighborhood complaints. They frequently have meetings to address this, but I have never attended because I am lazy and feel there is no way they will ever shut down this club that has been there for years. I have called 311 in the past for noise concerns and I believe my neighbor downstairs moved out because of the problems. As far as I know, all that has resulted is the club management posting a completely ineffectual sign in its window asking patrons to keep it down outside out of respect for the neighbors.
When I first saw my apartment four years ago, I wasn’t aware of the flyers pasted to telephone poles labeling the bar “the carbuncle of the neighborhood” and imploring people to attend community board meetings to shut the bar down. I noticed the bar itself, but had no idea what it was. It is closed all day and only seems open on Fri/Sat nights so I didn’t notice it until that first Friday night.
I suppose I could have asked the neighbors about any noise issues before moving in; they would have been eager to gripe. I could have checked with 311 and the local police precinct to find out what complaints they typically got for the area. I could have wandered the area on a weekend night, but because I knew it to be an extremely safe neighborhood, it never occurred to me the assault I should have been worried about was the one on my ears.
To be honest, though, my apartment is big, cheap, and rent stabilized. Even if I had known about the carbuncle across the street, I probably would have gone ahead and rented anyhow—and learned to cope, like I’m doing now.
I try to sleep with the windows shut and the A/C on---sometimes even in winter---to drown out the noise. I use lots of foam earplugs. But they annoy my ears and I end up pulling them out in my sleep. I’m not prepared to put in soundproof windows at my own expense.
Several people in the building started turning their living rooms into bedrooms to survive the late-night noise. I’m not because I don’t want my bedroom next to the kitchen.
I also keep my camera close to my bed to chronicle the mishaps occurring down below. I now have quite the collection of fights, accidents, sidewalk vomit and arrests. It’s kind of a bizarre art project, and somehow turning something miserable into something creative helps quell the annoyance.
That, and reminding myself that it’s only two nights a week—unlike the radiator that clangs all night long in the winter…but that’s another story.